Review by Brennan LaFaro
Rhode Island is an oft-overlooked hotbed of horror, steeped in Lovecraft lore and a focal point of the New England vampire craze. What a prescient choice, then, to begin this anthology with an introduction to the state’s horror-soaked history, penned by Faye Ringel, who also contributes a story later in the volume. Then come the stories, each contributed by a member of the Horror Writers Association Rhode Island Chapter.
Some of the works have roots in Rhode Island, but take the terror in new directions, such as John Lynch’s “Blood in the Sand” —a military horror story dedicated to the RI men and women who have fought overseas and one of the strongest tales I’ve read from this author yet. Co-editor Christa Carmen contributes “Testing a Horrible Superstition”, a poignant piece about a mother-daughter relationship and the first story to focus in on the vampire epidemic of the 1800s. As a side note, anyone who enjoyed Paul Tremblay’s recent book, The Pallbearers Club, and wants to dig a little deeper, will find a lot to like in this anthology.
Victoria Dalpe’s “The Hidden Heart” captures the spirit and the essence of Providence while co-editor’s L.E. Daniels’ “Spectacle Cove” revels in its gothic setting and poetic language, a beautiful backdrop to a chill-inducing story. Paul Magnan’s “Soul Parasite” punches in a short space, wasting no time in setting up the pins and knocking them down, a definite stand-out in the book.
Sprinkled throughout are poems by Mary Robles, acting almost as guided interludes, taking the reader by the hand and showing the sights and sounds that line Rhode Island’s shadows. Curtis M. Lawson’s “Unsuccessful Coping Mechanisms for Grieving Lost Lovers” burns slow and doesn’t skimp on the creeps, prompting the reader to wonder who lived in their house/apartment before they did, and what kind of trinkets did they leave behind?
Bringing up the rear, Aron Beauregard’s “The Salt Man of South Kingston” follows the historical homages to Rhode Island with an urban legend for the next generation, an insidious monster that preys on those lost in the snow. While not as extreme as some of Beauregard’s other work, this one will still make the reader grimace.
Also containing stories by Joshua Rex, Jason Parent, Mr. Michael Squid, Barry Lee Dejasu, H.Y. Hsu, K.H. Vaughan, and Steven Belanger, We Are Providence is a diverse showcase for just how big the stories from the smallest state can be. Come explore the city, comb the graveyards, and dip your toes into the icy ocean. There are so many thrills and chills these Rhode Island authors are dying to introduce you to.