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Rosalie Parker
The Old Knowledge
Tartarus Press
UK E-Book Edition
Publication Date: 07-01-2011
194 Pages; £2.00
Date Reviewed: 0-12-2015
Reviewed by: Rick Kleffel © 2015

Index:  Horror

It's easy to underestimate how much our perceptions of the world around us are based on knowledge unique to the 20th and 21st century. We've learned so much, so fast, and become such experts in disseminating this knowledge that we take it as an eternal given rather than a passing fad, or at the very least something new and very unusual.

'The Old Knowledge' by Rosalie Parker is more than a set of formulas, or remedies or spells. It's a different way of being in this world. The stories to be found in this slim volume are chilling to be sure, and engrossing in every way. But there's a bigger picture than just the stories themselves. These stories take us not to a different world, but a different vision of this world. It turns out that how you see can break down the barriers between life and death, and not always in a manner conducive to the former.

For all that, expect to find eight engrossing stories here, all in the mode of horror classics, with an original take informed by the author's work in archaeology and in publishing horror. In "The Rain," Geraldine, a thoroughly modern woman, decides upon a vacation in a more rural environment. "Spirit Solutions" looks into the world of high-tech afterlife encounters. I'd love to see more stories based around this group; they're fun and smart. "In the Garden" manages the neat trick of turning gardening into a setting for horror.

"Chactonbury Ring" is a brooding piece of archeological surrealism, while "The Supply Teacher" manages to be an entirely new take on an old horror trope. It's funny and remarkable. The centerpiece of the book is "The Old Knowledge," another tale of city meeting country and archaeology that is delightfully full and rich. "The Cook's Story" takes us back to the garden, and "The Picture" is a nicely turned tale of haunting.

I read this in EBook form, and found it a superbly presented piece of reading. To be sure, you can find first editions and reprints from Swan River Press scattered about. But you can esiy order the ebook direct from the publisher, a pretty damn amazing deal to get your foot in the Tartarus door. The upshot will likely find you seeking out their other work, and it is well worth finding. But Rosalie Parker's collection of stories will haunt you no matter where find them or how you read them.

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