Saturday, 10 September 2016

'The Haunting House'

The final story in Lynda E. Rucker's new collection from the Swan River Press is previously unpublished. It takes the classic theme of the person haunted by a dream and plays with it. In this case the dream is of a house, apparently deserted, through which the dreamer moves. But then, one night, she senses a presence in the dream-house that was never there before...

As Lisa Tuttle says in her introduction to the book: 'It is the conjunction of believable characters and real places, convincingly depicted, that gives these stories their emotional power and makes the strangest of events seem almost inevitable.' In 'The Haunting House' Lucy, estranged from her family and with no friends, struggles with reality but finds sleep comforting, not least when it takes her to the empty house. Her passive approach to life eventually leads her out into the Oregon wilderness, where the house - or something like it - can be found.

Like so many Rucker characters Lucy is cut off from any support network that might stop her drifting over the edge of... what? Reality? She seems to be the victim, but perhaps she is simply fated to be cut off from everyone in the most effective way possible, by ceasing to exist. The way it happens is clear enough, why it happens is implied, but in the end it's the story that matters, and this is an excellent end to a superb collection.

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