Six chilling stories that bring the Gothic style of writing popularized in the 18th and 19th centuries into the 20th and 21st.
The bulk of Huberty’s collection takes its cues from Gothic writers such as Edgar Allan Poe and the innovator of the genre, Horace Walpole, and these works show a deep understanding of the genre’s disturbing charms—consistently hovering between the mundane and the extraordinary, constantly calling into question what is real and what is perception. The subject matter of the stories varies: “In Blackbrooke Hall” details four college students on holiday and the horrific discovery they make at their lodgings, “Forever Jim” follows a homeless woman in Paris drifting between the stark realities of her life and the presence of the dead poets in their graves around her, and the titular story of the collection, “Dog Boy,” is based on the true account of a prison-based dog-training program that ends in an inmate’s death. This collection takes the literary thriller back to basics and eliminates many of the modern flourishes, mostly for the better. However, its subtle tone is occasionally too vague and, in the case of “Counting Sheep” (and to a lesser extent “Dog Boy”), awkwardly dances around specific and important plot points while putting too much distance between the narrator and characters. The collection’s final entry, “The Black Cat,” manages to avoid this by casting off some of the genre’s more rigid trademarks, allowing the reader to better identify with the characters, letting the terror they experience feel all the more horrific. The collection also contains “The Dream,” an excerpt from Huberty’s upcoming novel The Crewel Wing, and it fits seamlessly in the collection and works well as a stand-alone entry.
Slightly limited by its style, but nonetheless a charming and haunting read.