'The Maze' by Michael Chislett

The second story in the The Ghosts & Scholars Book of Mazes (Sarob Press 2020) is a fine tale of New Age beliefs coming into contact with more ancient and authentic forces. Rhiannon is the teenage daughter of ditzy Cleo, who doesn't like being called 'mum' and drags the poor girl to psychic fairs. Cleo is full of something, but it's not necessarily spiritual energy. I think we've all met the person who is convinced that they have special powers, which never seem to include self-awareness.

Cleo decides that they must visit a maze, despite its being off-limits. Rhiannon is nervous, noting official warnings that the maze is dangerous. She glimpses what appear to be statues in the trees around them as they approach the entrance, and is relieved to find the maze locked. Predictably, Cleo decided to break in regardless, and is soon wending her way toward the centre. At this point a fairly light-hearted tale turns nasty, while retaining a touch of the grotesquely comic. The conclusion recalls M.R. James' classic maze tale, but with a more outlandish twist.

I am a huge fan of Mike Chislett's work, so it won't surprise anyone that I enjoyed this one immensely. It contrasts with the more restrained Valentine story (see below) but both conjure up the sense of labyrinths as areas where worlds intersect and the unwary can fall foul of the inexplicable.

So, next up in 'My Dancing Days Are Over' by Paul Stjohn Mackintosh.


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