Twelve Tales Lie, One Tells True comes hot and heavy from master story spinner Maria Alexander. I love horror. Love it. I love short stories. Love them. Twelve Tales Lie, One Tells True combines the two art forms of horror and the short together into a powerful harmony. This collection works in so many ways but the most important is hinted at in its title. One Tells True.
The writing is lyrical at times and reserved when it needs to be. You can see the ebb and flow of rhyme giving birth to rhythm within Maria Alexander’s work. However, all of that would be just pretty window dressing if it didn’t have a story to back it up. This is where Alexander shines. She delves deep into connection to the human aspects of horror. Yes, sometimes we are afraid of the demons that go bump in the night but there is a primal connection at the heart of every tale. This connection is what makes Alexander’s work unique.
My father’s death was far from peaceful. A heart attack ripped life from him in a single spasm of rage.– from The King of Shadows
Horror comes in many forms and none grander than the horror we do to ourselves or to our ‘loved ones’. The themes of abuse, in all of its rainbow gambit, are central here. Each character presents its own scar—its own battle with demons that many of us may have wrestled with (or still are) in our own lives. We might have a lecherous family member, one who hurt us—one who was protected and allowed to do so—in our lives. Maybe it wasn’t you who was affected, maybe it was someone you loved. To what extent would you seek revenge? Would you kill? How about 1000 times? Would you dare live out your fantasy making the wicked suffer again and again? At what cost do we seek retribution? These are the very real, very grounded questions that Alexander and her characters wrestle with.
I sob uncontrollably as he lifts me, his scarred hands easily overpowering me as he carries me into the clearing. I am just a rag doll to him.-from Though Thy Lips are Pale
Warts and all, or so they say, the world is exposed. Nothing is taboo—by putting something taboo it gives it power. Maria Alexander’s words and work tears down those old power structures and brings them back to the people without voices. Her words brings the power back to those of us who struggle with demons self-made and inherited. By giving the world real (flawed and fucked) characters to struggle with supernatural manifestations of real (flawed and fucked) aspects of life, Alexander is both mistress of her world and exorcist.