I have been an Elizabeth Yon fan ever since I read her short story in the compilation Echoes in Darkness. Now she has a book out all her own, and it is an atmospheric feast. Blackfern Girls stands as a testament to Yon’s ability to create a world which surrounds you in total macabre believability. As you read the four stories that make up this collection, you are drawn into the characters, the stories, and the overall feel of what is going on in this haunted rural area.
The delectable stories in Blackfern Girls range from the slightly creepy to the totally unnerving. What they have in common is not only a regional basis, but an expert’s characterization and world building. You will be drawn in by sweet little girls only to be repulsed back by their seeming evil. The shock of the evil would not be possible if you failed first to believe in the innocence. You will start to agree with a disbeliever, only to be shocked at the depth of her belief. Again and again, what you have come to understand will be turned on its ear.
If there is one area of these stories that fails for me, it is the lack of closure. While each of the tales in the book builds a fully realized world, the story it contains doesn’t seem to me as well realized. Don’t get me wrong, I am all in favor of leaving the reader of a story with some mystery and decisions to make for themselves, but the stories don’t even seem to go that far. They leave us hanging. Waiting. Maybe that is what Yon intended, but it doesn’t work me, and I am left holding for the final note. But I will keep waiting because I really enjoy these stories and the characters.
My one quibble should not stop you from enjoying Blackfern Girls. In fact, this compilation is a perfect companion to this Halloween week and a marvelous example of a fine writer’s skills. Not only that, but it is a true bargain on Amazon. Go buy it now. Go! It is only available on eReader at the moment, but I have been assured by the publisher, Bannerwing Books, that it will be available in dead-tree format next year. And yes, I plan on purchasing that hardcover to proudly display on my shelf and to remind myself how artfully atmosphere, characterization, and downright creepy can be done.