Endlessness

In That Endlessness, Our End by Gemma Files

COME CLOSER, FRIEND. LET ME TELL YOU A STORY.

Heard the one about the Airbnb that eats your dreams or the iron-crowned king who preys on his own bloodline from the air, still smoldering centuries after being burnt alive? How about the cloudy antique bottle you can wish your excess rage inside, or that crooked alley down which something waits to replace your disappointing child with a far more pleasant facsimile? We all know the truth, especially in times like these-in an anxiety-ridden, sleepless world such as ours, it’s only ever our very worst dreams that come true. Here streets empty out and people pull themselves apart like amoebas, breeding murderous doppelgangers from their own flesh; houses haunt, ideas possess and a cold and alien moon stares down, whispering that it’s time to spawn. New myths rise and ancient evils descend. From the seemingly mundane terrors of a city just like yours to all the most dark and distant places of a truly terrible universe, nothing is as it seems…not even that dimly-recalled cinematic memory you’ve been chasing all these years, the one you think might be just something you stumbled upon while flipping through channels after midnight. The one that still disturbs you enough to raise a cold sweat all over your body, whenever you try to will its details clear.

Hot on the heels of her 2018 This Is Horror Award-winning short story collection Spectral Evidence, critically horror author Gemma Files compiles fifteen more of her most startling recent nightmares-a creepily seductive downward spiral of dark poetry and existential dread, entirely suitable to the slow apocalypse going on all around us. So take your mind off your troubles and send it somewhere the rules still operate, if only to punish those who violate them.

The IndieMuse Review

Gemma Files’ latest macabre collection of horror shorts presents us with darkly poetic tales of cursed movies, dream diaries, doppelgangers, family curses, fairies, lost videos, insomniacs, rituals, cosmic cults, deadly secrets, armageddons and remaking the universe.

This is an incredibly difficult book to review because it is hard to convey effectively what these stories are about, while simultaneously doing them justice without falling into the trap of either over-simplification or over analysing. Neither is it an easy book to read, but it is an endlessly rewarding one.

Anyone who has read Gemma Files’ horror work before will recognize her incredible talent for maintaining a constant sense of dread and unease throughout all her stories. She deals in themes and subject so cosmically large that there is a real ‘anything goes’ sense, but stories are typically set in an all too familiar down to earth situation. There are the unfathomably powerful and evil forces at work in “The Puppet Motel”, living in a Toronto based Airbnb, or the existential terror of “Venio” where a student writing exercise unleashes an unstoppable and inexplicable darkness upon their normal, everyday existence. Each story is grounded in a familiar reality before Files introduces inconceivably high, Lovecraftian-esque stakes with a level of creativity so uniquely her own that you would be hard pushed to find any other horror author writing today so adept at getting to the core at what really frightens people.

Some stories are incredibly rich and dense, rewarding those willing to pore over every detail, while some are more straightforward and accessible, taking the form of a radio interview (“Bulb”) or fairy-tale inspired monologue (“Cuckoo”). There are moments of extreme violence (the opening tale, “This is How it Goes” has some truly horrifying imagery), the oddly surreal (“Come Closer”) and the dream-like (“Sleep Hygiene”). A lot of these stories genuinely terrified me (reading “Cut Scene” just before bed was a huge mistake) and some are so laden with existential dread (“Worm Moon”, “Distant Dark Places”) that I needed to put the book down and pick up something different before pressing on.

While there is a lot of variety, In That Endlessness, Our End feels like a very cohesive collection. There are a lot of shared themes, to the point where a lot of the shorts feel very interconnected and, sometimes even a retelling of the same event from a different perspective. I found it to be an incredibly difficult book to put down for long, constantly telling myself ‘just one more’ until the final page.

In That Endlessness, Our End is a book that defies categorization, but what it undoubtedly is, is a book that will challenge you as it switches so deftly between so many conflicting themes and feelings. It is an incredible collection; one that reminded me just what I love so much about horror fiction and one I cannot recommend highly enough.

RICHARD MARTIN

Richard started reading horror books at a young age, starting with R L Stine’s ‘Goosebumps’ and ‘Point Horror’ series. He traumatised himself at the age of twelve when he read Stephen King’s ‘IT’, and never looked back. He is currently based in the UK, where he lives with his partner, and an inappropriate amount of books.

Curation Results: In That Endlessness, Our End

gHoster
B-Baal
Emo-Lee
KnotBTK
Deathdealer
Curator Notes: "Thoroughly entertaining from start to finish, this collection will surely be a frontrunner for best of the year." —gHoster

This title has been officially certified by indiemuse reviewers and curators as a recommended read. Read about our certification process here.

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