Tuesday, February 1, 2011
Deathwatch by Lisa Mannetti
Deathwatch is Lisa Mannetti’s beautiful new collection of two novellas - Dissolution and The Sheila Na Gig.
Dissolution explores an evil mother’s power over her house, even from beyond the grave. The inhabitants of the house include conjoined siblings, an alcoholic father and a pair of servants. Stuart Granville, a would-be medical student from the South who's been expelled for drinking is hired to tutor the two young girls. Once at the house he realizes the true reason for his employment and it is much more grisly than he could have ever anticipated.
Mannetti is able to incorporate the medical horrors of early America with the timeless fear of the unknown. It is the stuff nightmares are made of. Mannetti attacks the reader from all angles. The horror is not isolated to the supernatural- instead she chooses to bring real world atrocities to the story. This leaves the reader with no safe haven as we follow Stuart’s descent into darkness. Dissolution is a brilliantly crafted story that will haunt you for days after finishing.
In The Sheila Na Gig, Tom Smith is seeking refuge on a ship bound for the New World. In his native Ireland, he has dealt with too much loss and tragedy which included the loss of his only love, avoiding his evil witch of a grandmother, and trying to save his sister, Delia, from the abuse of his father. Tom gets wrapped up in a strange state of mental anguish as he looks to the occult to make things right in his increasingly horrific world.
The Sheila Na Gig may have been the stronger of the two stories simply because the loss that Tom experiences is so completely depressing. We watch as any semblance of love and support is slowly stripped away from him by the evil forces that exist within his life. It is enough to bring the reader to tears. Tom finally believes that he has one last chance to redeem his life and make it all normal again but the result is the most heartbreaking tragedy of all. Mannetti’s varying flow in The Sheila Na Gig reflects the constant turmoil within young Tom Smith. At times the writing is urgent and frantic but Mannetti is also able to reign it in and produce an almost dream like quality when necessary. This is truly a testament to mastery of the craft.
Never have I been so enchanted while experiencing all engrossing horror. Lisa Mannetti’s Deathwatch has the rare power to draw the reader in with beautiful composition and then crush you with unflinching horror. She can take the most taboo subject and make it seem heartbreaking and tragic with her elegant prose. This really is where the power in Mannetti’s lies. She has this ability to make a reader weep in a situation where they would normally find themselves being repulsed thus causing a unique emotions within the reader’s heart.
There is absolutely no reason why Lisa Mannetti shouldn’t be a powerhouse within the genre for years to come. I know that she has officially made the list of authors whose work I would label as “Can’t Miss.”
Please, please, please go pick up Deathwatch now!