The Horror Zine Review
Boroughs of the Dead
by Andrea Janes
|Paperback: 130 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace (September 26, 2011)
Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.2 x 0.3 inches
Boroughs of the Dead
by Andrea Janes
Review by Jeani Rector
I was first introduced to Andrea Janes in October 2011 when she submitted a story to The Horror Zine under the pen name A. J. Sweeney. The story was titled Newtown Creek and when I first laid eyes on it, I recognized it to be a winner. It is an eerie and morbidly fascinating story about two brothers, and you can read it HERE.
So when Andrea told me she had compiled the best of her work into a book titled Boroughs of the Dead, I knew this was one book I wanted to read.
Boroughs of the Dead contains ten dark tales that all take place in or around the boroughs of New York City. The cover art displays a shining Statue of Liberty with a skeleton paddling a boat in front of Our Lady Liberty. The sky in the background is overcast and ominous; an indication of what lies inside.
Andrea Janes writes with a very fluid pen. Nothing shallow here; her writing is deep and thoughtful. Her descriptions are beautiful yet not overdone where they would slow down the pacing of the plot. All in all, I feel her writing is on par with a professional level.
Much of the material in Boroughs of the Dead is written in an old-fashioned, nineteenth century style reminiscent of Edgar Allen Poe. In fact, a subject of one of her stories is Herman Melville. In many writers’ hands, this style would seem forced and pretentious, but Janes is able to pull it off to where it seems natural and even eloquent.
There are modern stories as well, the most notably being Newtown Creek.
The book starts off with a rather long-titled story called “We’ll All Be in the Arms of Our True Loves Before Long,” about a scientist/doctor who falls in love with an apparition. When the ghost turns out to be a real woman who had been murdered, she brings him to her body. End of story, right? Not with Janes. What happens in Janes’ story is how he tries to reanimate the dead woman. Not for the faint of heart, and if you read the story, you will get my pun.
“A Fitting Tribute” is a rather gruesome story about a spinster aunt that imposes upon a selfish teenager when she comes to live with the family. “The General Slocum” begins as a tale of an old woman with second sight, only to end unexpectedly in an entirely different direction.
I was particularly attracted to “The End,” and not just because the protagonist is a writer whose character in her book is named Inspector Rector. Now Rector is not a name you hear very often! Beyond having such good taste in a name, “The End” is yet another one of Janes’ stories that end entirely differently than what the reader expects.
And that is the brilliance of Andrea Janes’ work: she doesn’t play by the rules. She teases you with one idea and then twists the knife, sometimes literally, into an entirely different direction. There is nothing sub-standard in Boroughs of the Dead. Each story is unique and exciting, and her writing style is absorbing.
I highly recommend Andrea Janes, and I can only hope that she decides to submit more fiction to The Horror Zine.
You can buy the book HERE.
About the author
Andrea Janes lives with her husband in Brooklyn, New York, across the street from a cemetery and a high-voltage ConEd substation. She hopes that one day, maybe during a thunderstorm, this combination will result in some really cool zombie action. Her writing can be found on her website www.andreajanes.com and on her blog at bourbonandtea.blogspot.com
About the reviewer
While most people go to Disneyland while in Southern California, Jeani Rector went to the Fangoria Weekend of Horror there instead. She grew up watching the Bob Wilkins Creature Feature on television and lived in a house that had the walls covered with framed Universal Monsters posters. It is all in good fun and actually, most people who know Jeani personally are of the opinion that she is a very normal person. She just writes abnormal stories. Doesn’t everybody?
Jeani Rector is the founder and editor of The Horror Zine and has had her stories featured in magazines such as Aphelion, Midnight Street, Strange Weird and Wonderful, Dark River Press, Macabre Cadaver, Ax Wound, Horrormasters, Morbid Outlook, Horror in Words, Black Petals, 63Channels, Death Head Grin, Hackwriters, Bewildering Stories, Ultraverse, and others. Her book Around a Dark Corner was released in the USA on Graveyard Press in 2009.