Monday, 22 July 2013

A Chimaera in my Wardrobe

Tina Rath's stories about the small, amiable chimaera that is indeed found in a wardrobe started appearing in Supernatural Tales in 2002. Issue #4 saw the eponymous title story of the series, in which the chimaera tells an impoverished bit-part actress ('Supporting Artiste', or SA) a series of tall stories. But none, of course, are as unlikely as the storyteller himself. More stories duly appeared, the last in 2009's ST#16 ('Trouble with the Hob'), but not all of the chimaera's tales fitted the ST format - some were more science fiction than supernatural, for instance. But they're all very enjoyable and written with consummate elegance, and you can buy them all now as an eBook for Kindle.

The thing that I admire most about Tina Rath's work is the way she combines a keen intelligence with understated wit. She easily weaves werewolves, vampires, ghosts and less likely creatures into her tales, while always keeping the reader's feet on the ground with her command of detail and deft characterisation. This is especially true in her 'double act' stories featuring two police officers - Sgt Prendergast and PC Oliver. The former is older, fatter, and considerably wilier than the young, idealistic constable, and provides many of the book's best lines.

If you're looking for a pleasant, stimulating read, with humour and a hint of melancholy (after all, the chimaera only stays for a summer), then this is a book for you. And I believe a hardback collection may be in the offing for those who shun the fell engines of the digital revolution!

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