HOLIDAY, M. Rickert, Golden Gryphon, $24.95, 164 pages, ISBN: 9781930846654, reviewed by Barry Hunter.
It has become rare to find a story or novel that will knock your socks off or make you stay up until you finish it. In this all too short collection, M. Rickert presents some of those stories that end too quickly, but leave your mind racing thinking about what you have just read.
I am reminded of Stephen King’s CYCLE OF THE WEREWOLF where the moon’s cycle and the werewolf’s killings are rendered in twelve stories as the year progresses. M. Rickert has twelve tales based on the holidays of the year and presents twelve extraordinary tales giving us a year’s worth of HOLIDAY’s to be remembered.
“Holiday” is the story of the ghost of a six year old blonde beauty queen, and other young ghosts, appearing to a writer that has ghosts of his own to face. “Memoir of a Deer Woman” shows the effects of cancer and a woman’s unusual solution in her fight against the disease. “Journey into the Kingdom” tells of the lighthouse keepers’ daughter, her talent and her method of remaining alive. The origin of the nightingale is re-imagined in “The Machine”. The “lost boys” and their now grown leader are featured in “Don’t Ask”. “Traitor” is a new twist on modern warfare. “Was She Wicked? Was She Good?” is a story about how far would you go to discipline your child. “You Have Never Been Here” and “The Christmas Witch” are the other tales to complete the collection.
The two other stories in the volume that really touched me are “Evidence of Love in a case of Abandonment: One Daughter’s Personal Account” and “War is Beautiful”. In the first story, we see the results of a future where those who have had abortions meet the judgment for the crime and the results that fall upon the children and families. In “War Is Beautiful”, I was transported to the jungles of Vietnam and the descriptions Mary uses herein make it as real as it was in 1970. She has the “feel” of the country, the smell of the remnants of a falling rain, the descriptions of the people, and reality of what it took to remain alive.
Rickert has written a collection of ghost stories that will remain close to you for a long time to come. The only thing that may bother you more is how many of the ghosts are already living with you.