“Grabbing the readers attention from the outset, Marie O’Regan tells of a man whose life starts to fall apart when that omnipresent word suddenly pops into his head. This is a well crafted, and intriguing tale that holds the reader from start to finish;” David Price, for www.sarahcrabtree.net.
“Marie O'Regan gives us another of the anthology's finest entries. Her protagonist, Ben, begins to hear (or imagines) 'alsiso' in everyday sounds and speech, and finds himself becoming more and more violent, which seems to go against his natural tendencies. Events come to a head when he confronts his cheating wife at her lover's flat, and we finally understand what has been happening to Ben. The chilling final sentence ends the tale on a note of inescapable horror.” David Hebblethwaite, for TheAlienOnline.
“Marie O’Regan’s story is an intriguing riff on mental illness and past deeds coming back to haunt the present, as a man’s life falls apart around him and he is left with nothing except the knowledge of who he really is and what he is capable of, chillingly real in its depiction of sexual violence and a disintegrating relationship.” Peter Tennant, for The Third Alternative, Issue 37.
Marie O'Regan's 'Alsiso' is a frankly disturbing story, although very well executed, of a man who starts to hear voices, slipping into madness and alienation from his wife.” Djibril, for Future Fire.
On Sea View:
“Ms. O'Regan’s story seems to borrow something from traditional folk tales, but presents the material in a fresh and unpretentious way. The ending is a killer, and full marks to her for describing sexual acts without falling into the lazy use of cliché. Outstanding.” S. Jerome, for www.savagenight.com.
‘Standing out is 'Stay' from Marie O’Regan, which is a story you’ll appreciate more by reading it twice. I won’t give away its plot but it’s a memorable story full of drama and intrigue.’ James Whittington, The Dark Side, Issue 110 (August/September 2004)
On Can You See Me?
Can You See Me by Marie O’Regan reads like a ghost story of sorts, but one in which there is no ghost, except whatever spirits are conjured up by guilt and remorse. The male protagonist is ‘haunted’ by a ditched girlfriend, a woman with whom he was involved in an S&M relationship. O’Regan cleverly keeps the matter of Claire’s corporeality ambiguous for much of the narrative, juggling the various strands in a way that constantly wrong foots the reader, with the true state of affairs revealed only at the end. At the story’s heart is a keenly felt subtext, embodied in the titular plea of the ‘abandoned’ woman, for recognition of individuality, to stop using other people as a means to fulfil one’s own needs. Peter Tennant, for Whispers of Wickedness (www.ookami.co.uk)
On Mirror Mere, by Rainfall Books, 2006
Mirror Mere is a collection of 18 short stories by the horror and dark fantasy writer Marie O’Regan. The collection is introduced by Paul Kane and published by Rainfall Books. Thirteen of the stories have appeared previously through such diverse media as the book series Terror Tales, genre magazines like Dark Horizons and the Internet (e.g. www.horrorlibrary.net.). Five of the stories, including the longest and for me the most engaging offering, the novella story ‘Mirror Mere’ from which the collection takes its title, are all previously unpublished.
The cover and internal modern artwork by David A Magitis attracts potential readers with its disturbing, dreamlike images. The temptation to delve within its pages is provided by writers Muriel Gray and Stephen Gallagher with descriptions such as “deliciously, satisfyingly nasty”.
But what of the stories themselves – and is the promise of a spine chilling read actually delivered. Television silenced and fortification secured in the form of a generous serving of single malt (I like to keep in touch with the spirits) I settled down to what I hoped would be an enjoyable read.
All the stories in the book are set in the ‘here and now’ and involve the ordinary mix of contemporary characters you might encounter in everyday life but whose nature or experience causes each of them to enter a different dark world in a manner that reminded me somewhat of the stories in the ‘twilight zone’. In ‘Suicide Bridge’ we meet John the suicide who, having thrown himself off said bridge encounters those now dead who jumped before him, doomed to observe and occasionally interact with the living, until the performance of some unselfish act allows them deliverance from the limbo world they occupy. Then in ‘Sea View’ there is Roger the reviewer of seaside B&B’s who enthusiastically engages in the sexual exploitation of landladies, themselves eager to secure his recommendation – until one particular seaside visit provides a fantastical sexual encounter with deadly results.
There is a strong sexual theme to several of the stories, interweaving with an exploration of death, madness and horror. Desire, lust and depravity are believably presented, as is an equally fearful descriptive of the dire results that can follow when things are taken too far, bringing in their wake suffering and even madness – this side and beyond the grave.
As I said before, the most captivating story for me is ‘Mirror Mere’, where Mike presents his wife Sue with a pretty mirror from a shop straight out of Stephen King’s ‘Needful Things’. Turns out that the mirror is capable of seduction, inducing both Mike and Sue into acts of shared, and in Sue’s case, individual eroticism. Again sexual temptation brings in its wake dire consequences. Sue is eventually sucked into the mirror and Mike has to suffer the horror of being able to see but not reach her, whilst in turn Sue encounters the creatures, humans drawn into the mirror and turned into wraiths, who inhabit the grey world in which she now finds herself. Whilst researching into the mythology of mirrors in order that he might recover Sue, Mike meets Carole, whose partner Adam has been previously lost in a similar encounter with a mirror. Together they embark on a quest to bring back Sue and Adam, only to become drawn in themselves, whence they discover the terrible truth that the mirror hides and the final fate from which none of them can ever escape.
One or two of the stories did not grab me personally. For example ‘Samedi’s child’ struck me as an element of a story, a scene from rather than the complete telling of a tale. On the whole however I found the book to be a very satisfying read and if you are looking for imaginative story telling that is disturbing and sexy at the same time, then like me you will enjoy this book. Mick Garrity, Jeff n' Joys Newsletter, Jeff n'Joys Bookshop
On World Without End
Marie O'Regan is featured author, and probably the best known and most accomplished of the magazine's contributors. In World Without End she cleverly builds what at first blush appears to be a simple tale of a young girl losing her teeth into one of global apocalypse. You can take this in several ways - as simply an externalisation of the girl's feeling that tooth loss is a monumental catastrophe, or as an actual scenario in which the macrocosm reflects the microcosm (and tempting to wonder if the girl represents Gaia). Either way, the idea is intriguing, and the story well written, managing to hold the attention all the way and make us suspend disbelief. Peter Tennant
On Hellbound Hearts
‘With an introduction from Clive Barker himself, this anthology of short stories inspired by Pinhead and his merry band of Cenobites has obviously won respect where it matters most. Even more impressive, however, are the number of heavy-hitters involved in this project, each of whom gives their own well-informed spin on all things Hellraiser. From The Stand director Mick Garris (whose “Hellbound Hollywood” brings fear to a film set, and even references Candyman) to 30 Days Of Night’s Steve Niles (who documents some graphic fleshfilleting in “A Little Piece Of Hell”), this is far from a quickly bashed-out horror hack-job. Another highlight is Barbie Wilde’s “Sister Cilice”, which offers a uniquely female spin on the mythology. Other members of the fair sex (including Buffy novelist Yvonne Navarro and Otherworld author Kelly Armstrong) also take a bash but Wilde, who played the Female Cenobite in the movies, tells the most insightful tale. Then there’s “The Cold” by Conrad Williams, best known in cult circles. Williams manages the impressive task of bringing Barker’s supernatural sadomasochism into a more grounded, “real world” scenario and it proves to be one of the most compelling and well-realised shorts on offer here... For any Barker buff Hellbound Hearts should provide more pleasure than pain.’ (Four Star Review in SFX magazine)
‘Kudos MUST go to Paul Kane and Marie O’Regan who have pulled out of the bag a magnificent clutch of tales and have managed to coax from the authors many rich, dark and some truly frightening stories that have added a new and complex light to an already vastly complex universe. It’s a great read and I hope that Pocket Books, the publishers, commission a second volume soon. 9.5/10.’ (Johnny Mains, All Things Horror)
‘ It is truly amazing how Clive Barker’s work could go on to inspire so many different terrifying tales. Each and every one is worth reading and it was painful to try and pick out just a few to talk about when all of the stories are so stellar. Each of the authors captures the aesthetic and themes of the Hellraiser mythos, all the while tweaking it just enough to make it their own. What truly makes this anthology so exciting is how many different directions authors can go with Barker’s legacy. From Native American lore to the future of science behind “Shadow DNA”, there is really no limit to how writers can reinterpret and retell the Hellraiser mythos... Horror fans that relish shocking literature as well as Clive Barker and Hellraiser fans are sure to enjoy Hellbound Hearts. Don’t torture yourself, get your copy today!’ (Fatally Yours)
‘The stories collected in Hellbound Hearts remain true to the nightmarish mythology that inspired them. They are subtle and suggestive, violently unrestrained, and penned by writers perfectly suited to the task. Kane and O’Regan have done a wonderful job. Hellbound Hearts will delight and disturb the fans of Hellraiser, and those who first discovered The Hellbound Heart in George R. R. Martin’s Night Visions 3. Hellbound Hearts is highly recommended.’ (Jason Rolfe, HorrorBound)
‘Hellbound Hearts is collection of Hellraiser influenced stories that’s dear to my heart. Being a fan of Barker and all things Hellraiser, I must say it’s great to see that the legacy or mythos is being carried forth... I come out of this book feeling as if the writers dug deep to pull out these stories of damnation and suffering. There is a black abyss that lies deep in the hearts and minds. Hellbound Hearts is a doorway into that notion. Hellbound Hearts will sit proudly next to all things Cenobitovian and Barker, whether directly inspired or indirectly awakened it stands on its own as a collection to have.’ (HorrorNews.net)
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