The Keeper and Other Strange Tales, by Stephen Tallevi
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Today, I’m excited to be reviewing The Keeper and Other Strange Tales, by Stephen Tallevi.
So, if you’ve got your favourite drink to hand and are all settled in, let’s begin.
The Keeper and Other Strange Tales is a collection of dark short stories, which includes five chilling tales, each with its own unique themes.
The five stories are briefly summarised below.
The Crimson Oak:
Lizzie’s mum passed away four years ago. Now, it’s just her and her father. Richard (Lizzie’s dad) worries over Lizzie when she goes on a school trip, with the legend of the Dreaded Oak on his mind, a tree that seems to grow a new branch whenever a young girl goes missing from their town. This was a brief yet chilling story with a full plot condensed into a mere sixteen pages. It was told well and made the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end. Themes included family, loss, nostalgia, and keeping old memories alive.
Note: this was one of my favourites from the collection.
James, an anthropological researcher, rents a room in a cottage for a month in Reachers, Sutherland County. Here, he looks to study the bones of skeletons, of persons believed to have held Pagan beliefs. As legend has it, such Pagan worshippers believed they could remain young by stealing a person’s eyes.
I felt that this story was a bit more rushed than the first. Nevertheless, it was creepy and gripping, inviting me to keep turning the pages.
A Deadly Slice:
Enzo takes up golf at the bequest of his employer. However, he soon goes missing while searching for his golf ball. His disappearance leads detectives to learn of several murders, linked to the dealing of narcotics.
This story was not my favourite as it felt a little too jumbled, plot-wise, for me.
The Forgotten King:
A school trip to the Glenden County Zoo ends in tragedy when a formerly dispirited lion being held in captivity makes a daring escape, displaying just how dangerous and formidable the king of beasts can be.
This story was brief yet intriguing as it explored the nature of such a proud animal, showing its warped nature in captivity, and revealing its more majestic and primal nature once freed.
Three young scholars are taking a road trip in the English countryside, on a brief sabbatical from Oxford University. When their car comes to an unexpected standstill, the three men seek assistance at a nearby house up on a hill. Once they’ve received help from the mysterious keeper of the house, they seem to go in circles, constantly looping back to the strange house on the hill where their car first stalled.
This story was, by far, one of my favourites. I especially loved the ending when I connected the dots of what had happened.
As this was a short story collection, our usual list of positive aspects is a bit shorter.
- Firstly, the writing style was gripping and to the point, drawing me into each story, keeping me hooked throughout.
- Secondly, each story was unique and cleverly thought out, leading me to question the peculiar events which arose.
Overall, The Keeper and Other Strange Tales was a gripping and delightfully short read. Each tale explored a particular, mysterious situation or theme and ended in a unique way.
Key themes included loss, death, and mysterious circumstances.
My Rating: 4 stars.
Recommended to: lovers of dark short story collections.
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