What do you get when you cross an Albino, demon hunting, and the Southern life of a swamp dweller? You get a whole lot of crazy. In Alabaster Pale Horse by Caitlyn R. Kiernan, Dancy Flammarion is a young albino girl with a strong skill for killing evil. The short story collection works out of order slowly regressing through the explanations for why Dancy is being hunted by all forms of evil. The table of contents does offer the stories in chronological order, for those who want to follow the insanity that way. Stark black and white illustrations from Ted Naifeh add even more creepy to each story and ensure the reader is never truly at ease.
The first story “Les Fleurs Empoisonnees” is disturbing as hell, and yet like Southern Hospitality, somehow charming. A community of women knows as Stephens Ward Tea League and Society of Resurrectionists is just as creepy as it sounds. Obsessed with the mysteries of the universe, and of embalming and preserving, the society is plagued with tea sandwiches and a pretty messed up talking taxidermy bear. Dancy is picked up while hitchhiking and taken to the society without a choice. Once inside, she comes face to face with some terrifying images I’m still recovering from.
I should mention this story is only the beginning. Deranged demons in churches and swamp creatures that demand souls are side by side with stories of Dancy’s mother’s lifestyle choices that may or may not have lead to her damnable creation.
This book left me feeling both wanting to visit Savannah or maybe perform some sort of voodoo ritual to protect myself from the crazy stuff described in the book. Caitlyn R. Kiernan is not only a fabulous wordsmith, but great at getting a disturbing image of a demon or corpse in your head and leaving it there until you’ve managed to firmly grasp Dancy Flammarion’s existence. This book for sure left me wondering “What the Helll Did I Just Read?”
Alabaster Pale Horse is available from Dark Horse Press now.