By Bill Gauthier
Bad Moon Books
I was certainly aware taking on this review that a number of you Dark Discoveries readers will be familiar with Bill Gauthier – seeing as he’s written a column for the magazine for a few years now, as well as contributed stories and also had his first book (a short story collection) published by my esteemed Editor James Beach. So I guess he likes Bill’s writing a bit. I also know that readers routinely ask about his column or when DD is going to publish another one of his stories so I guess some of the readers feel this way as well. But my duty as a fair and unbiased reviewer trumps any favoritism so I pushed all of that out of my mind and got to work reading.
Alice on the Shelf is a pastiche of Lewis Carroll’s classic Alice in Wonderland. It also fuses in a few other fairy tales into an original, adult fantasy – one much darker than the Carroll book. It starts out with the protagonist, Brad, picking himself up from the wreckage of a failed marriage. He’s recently discovered he has strong feelings for a friend, Miranda, who’s helped him get through his ordeal, but he’s not sure if she feels the same way about him. Just as he’s getting the courage to tell her how he feels about her, she disappears and his quest to find her sends him right down the rabbit hole.
This feels like a very personal tale. In reading this, I felt I was taking the journey right alongside the writer. One of Gauthier’s strengths seems to be to able tap into his own experiences and turn that into a good story. All of us have experienced pain, joy, loss, etc. in our lives, but the mark of a good writer is one that can crystallize this into good fiction. His love for fairy tales and fantasy is definitely present as well and he’s able to weave it into the story effectively. So I’d definitely recommended this novella.
– Reviewed by Trever Nordgren