As a horror fan, I like to immerse myself in horror of all forms. However, as I was growing up, the horror that always spooked me the most was Hammer Horror. Gothic tales of the terrible including mummies, vampires, ghosts, monsters and Peter Cushing…amongst other famous English Thespians. The key to the Hammer Horror films is one thing: Subtlety. The gore is sometimes minimal, the chills dripping with tension, the acting hammy but sincere, and the story-telling top notch. Which is why, when reading Dr. Blessing’s Curse, I felt like I was reliving the golden age of Hammer.
A simple tale, a novella if you will, about Dr. Blessing, a practitioner in the 1800’s. One murky night on the cobblestones of London – think Jack the Ripper and Sherlock Holmes and you’re halfway there – he attends an emergency call on behalf of an acquaintance. When he arrives, he discovers something terrible, ghastly. Three years later, during a dinner party with some friends, he relives the moment. At that point, he decides to show off the monstrosity, one he’s kept for all of these years…
The story is compelling. Set in the 1800’s, you might expect the story to be droll and boring, possibly straightforward. You’d be wrong to assume this. Rollins has created a tense, strangely enigmatic tale of dread and insanity. Taking all that was horrific in the 1800’s (basic medicine, religion, poverty, unprotected sex), he crafts an excellent horror story that’s rich in detail, realistic in craftsmanship – the language, dialogue and conversations are very British – and graphic in detail. By the end of it, I was like ‘what the hell just happened?’ When it sunk in, I was amazed. The ending packs a solid punch but it only makes you want to read the next chapters in the story.
5* – For reliving my youth and remembering what was great about Gothic horror. Rollins creates a world that only confirms that the real danger in society is society itself. Monsters, serial killers and goblins: step aside. Dr Blessing is a unique character, one that develops in such a short span of time (it only took half an hour to read) and has already convinced me to buy the next chapter. On this evidence, you’d be hard pressed to find a better short story involving good ol’ Blighty…especially one so blood soaked. Great horror tale!