Tuesday, September 15, 2015
Spend a Ghost Summer with Tananarive Due
Ghosts, zombies, werewolves are what you can expect from Tananarive Due’s collection of short stories, Ghost Summer: Stories. For the first time, Due’s previously published short fiction (one unpublished) can be found in one place.
After reading The Lake last autumn, I knew her short stories would be good, but I wasn’t expecting to be blown away the way I was reading Ghost Summer. Due’s stories produce a feeling of unease, tension, and even melancholy. The characters are ordinary people (even the supernatural among them) who wrestle with extraordinary situations. That’s what makes the stories so frightening.
The collection is divided into four sections: Gracetown, The Knowing, Carriers, and Vanishings. The people in Gracetown spend the summer in the town of Gracetown, a place where the summers are unusual. I’ve read “The Lake” previously. “Summer” was …ahh… relatable as a parent. And “Ghost Summer” explains why Gracetown is haunted in the summer.
The Knowing involves entanglements with the supernatural. “Aftermoon” was my favorite in this section. A werewolf struggles to hide her true nature from humans, until she meets a specialist. Carriers is about viruses, zombie and flu. “Patient Zero” is a moving story, where a boy kept in isolation is unaware of the havoc beyond the door of his room. “Removal Order, Herd Immunity, and Carriers” follow Nayima in the early days to the years after a plague wipes out most of the human population. Finally, Vanishings looks at death, whether it’s a welcome event or something denied.
The stories were written for various magazines and anthologies, including Gumbo: A Celebration of African American Writers. The settings and time periods vary from the slavery era to a post-apocalyptic future. Though some are horror, there are also elements of speculative fiction.
If you’re looking for something spooky but also moving, Ghost Summer is a great choice.
Thanks to Diamond Book Distributors via Netgalley for the review copy. All opinions are my own.