This short story inspired all kinds of feelings for me. I haven't spent much time in the very rural place where I grew up, in quite a while, and being there always feels like being in a different world. Seeing old places and stirring up old memories causes the young, very sheltered Tasha to come out to do battle with the current version of Tasha, so it was easy to imagine the storm raging in Paula's head when she returns home for a funeral.
Along with Paula's internal conflict helping to set the uneasy tone for the story, the folk horror rolls in quickly. Nothing good ever happens in rural mountain locations, especially when you add in alcohol, childhood ghost stories, a flashlight, and a hike to a cemetery deep in the woods. What's meant to be a fun night reunited with her cousin Angie, turns into a nightmare that neither of them anticipated. A deadly family curse has been reawakened, and no one is safe until the debt is repaid.
The main characters are so endearing that I was horrified at the thought of anything happening to them, and hoped like hell they would succeed! Paula and Angie both share a load of family trauma, and Uncle Larry is a sweet, protective, "good old boy" who will stop at nothing to protect the family he has left. This loyal, dysfunctional little family is absolutely the underdog, and I dare you to pull for anyone else!
I'd be remiss if I didn't mention that this cover came from our very own Matt Wildasin! His socials are all listed under the contributor page, as well as the listing in our writing resources section.
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