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September and Other Stories
by Julie Ann Dawson
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Reviewed by: John Walsh

Cursed pharaohs, gigantic scorpion monsters living deep within the desert sands, demons back from the abyss and beautiful triplets with various psychic gifts: if these topics appeal, then Julie Ann Dawson's collection of stories and poems is likely to be of interest. Based around the novella, September, this slim collection explores themes of betrayal, loyalty and secrets man was not supposed to know. The central figure is the young woman Natasha who, together with the ghost of her drowned childhood friend Tabitha, wields considerable magical ability and goes about searching adventure in best pulp fiction manner. Much of the action featuring Natasha and her two sisters derives from the inspiration of an ongoing campaign of the Role Playing Game The Call of Cthulhu. However, some of the other short stories and the handful of poems derive from other settings.

The stories are quite entertaining but there is a distinct lack of successful sexual relationships among the various characters, which might possibly be revealing of the author. Of course, it is wrong to try to be too Freudian in analyzing what authors write. Nevertheless, there seem to be a lot of messy and bitter divorces, young women done wrong and then abandoned and, generally, dysfunctional relationships. Perhaps in future collections youngish Natasha and her beau can break this cycle of misery. More generally, a little subtle editing might have helped to tidy up some of the typos and the occasional infelicity of style.

This is an enjoyable set of pieces by an author with a pleasing, fresh take on some familiar and well-loved themes. I look forward to seeing whether she is able to develop her authorial voice in some more complex work.

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