Title: A Gentle Hell
Author: Autumn Christian
Publisher: Dark Continents Publishing
Lovers of dark, hypnotic and thoroughly surreal fiction need to sit up and take note of author Autumn Christian. A Gentle Hell is a superb collection of short fiction that she has brought out under Dark Continents Publishing’s Tales of Darkness and Dismay banner and she does not disappoint.
They Promised a Dreamless Death investigates our need to deaden our emotions and partake of a mainstream culture that results in the living dead. Or at least that’s how I saw it.
In Your Demiurge is Dead Christian plays upon themes of religious hypocrisy, as well as an investigation into the deaths of young people. The two are somehow linked in a gritty telling.
The star of the show is The Dog that Bit Her, which plays upon the theme of co-dependency in a relationship, as well as the age-old myth of the werewolf and moon madness.
The Singing Grass is perhaps the most difficult story to pin down, suggestive of an artist’s relationship with their muse and the exploration of the subconscious in order to create art.
In conclusion, I’ll state that most of these stories—in true surrealist fashion—are open to personal interpretation, and that to try define them would be to rob them of most of their beauty and mystery. Underpinning all of them is the uneasy relationship between man and woman, in an evocative and atmospheric dreamlike landscape that shifts as restlessly as the story that is being told.
Christian’s writing is pure magic and deserves all the success as a fresh voice in literary genre fiction. Her effortless prose whisks readers into a sometimes nightmarish reality that mirrors our own, with the aftertaste of a fever dream. I place her up there with greats such as William Burroughs, Philip K Dick and Ray Bradbury.