By Heather A.
4 out of 5 stars ★★★★☆
In her debut collection of short fiction, Due takes us to Gracetown, a small Florida town that has both literal and figurative ghost; into future scenarios that seem all too real; and provides empathetic portraits of those whose lives are touched by Otherness. Featuring an award-winning novella and fifteen stories—one of which has never been published before—Ghost Summer: Stories is sure to both haunt and delight.
I first saw Tananarive Due as the host of the Hugo Awards this past summer. She was fun and energetic, though I didn’t know her writing history, or anything about her, to be honest. During my research, I was pleasantly surprised to find out that she had a collection of short stories that was recently published. As a person who likes short fiction, and who is becoming more and more interested in finding good horror stories, this was a perfect match for my tastes.
How many times have I thought the worst–apocalypse is near, an epidemic reaches New York, the creepy scratching outside my window is a ghost instead of a tree branch… and Due brings those worst thoughts to life in her stories. In the section on “Carriers” there was a massive outbreak of a deadly disease and we follow the story of Nayima as she grows older and makes difficult decisions with what has happened.
In the section on “Gracetown,” Due creates a town that on the surface is normal, but superstitious. It turns out that those superstitions, like don’t swim in the lake, or seeing ghosts until you’re 12 years old, are not so made up after all. I found the Gracetown stories to be the most compelling of the collection, especially the novella “Ghost Summer,” in which a young boy begins hearing voices and a dog barking at night and comes to find out they are the ghosts of three young brothers who were being chased by a white landowners dog and get trapped in a well. It’s tragic, sad, and terrifying all wrapped into one.
Another story I found interesting was “Free Jim’s Mine” where a young couple in the 1800s, a black woman and a Native American man, seek refuge at her uncle’s mine for a night, but something haunts them and threatens their safety. It was super creepy (I love/hate sensory deprivation scenarios), and the twist at the end was clever.
Overall, this collection had everything I could have wanted–covering every type of sci-fi, fantasy, and horror sub-genre there is and still bringing a cohesive atmosphere and theme throughout. I was pleasantly surprised and I am now going to read some of the author’s other works.