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Ékleipsis: The Abyss

By: Tamel Wino
Publication Date: October 2021
Reviewed by: Kimberly Trix Lee
Review Date: October 19, 2021

Ékleipsis: The Abyss is a collection of six short stories about different people in different situations with different issues but all centered around a thematic focus of human nature. Three stories stuck out the most for me.

In “No Place Like Home,” Jordan, his vlogger wife Rebecca, and their two kids were living a picture-perfect family life until, one day, Jordan came home to find an unknown woman who claims to have been sent by his wife to their house to cook dinner for them. This woman had keys to their house, the passkey to their security system, and she even knew her way around their kitchen with suspicious ease. She even knew about Jordan and Rebecca’s gift-giving tradition. With his wife’s whereabouts still unknown and this strange woman acting like she was family, Jordan needed to figure out how to deal with things, fast.

“En Prise” is told from the perspective of Ash, a guitarist who just ended a two-year-long relationship with her alcoholic now-ex-boyfriend. She drove half a day to see her mother, and after a good long cry and a warm cup of tea, Ash decided to take up the offer of a musician friend to share an apartment and be introduced to potential gigs. With her backpack and her guitar, Ash set out to hitchhike. She first rode with a kind lady who warned her about a possible serial killer on the loose before dropping her off but Ash had no space for fear in her heart. Trying to find her next ride, she came across a man playing chess against himself and eventually secured a spot in this man’s truck to get her to the next city. As they drove, her amusement at the man’s social ineptitude gave way to disgruntlement and eventually to suspicion and fear. Ash decided that, if this man were a predator, the best thing to do is for him to think that she was a predator too.

“The Descent” is about a hedonistic pilot, Chris, who was adrift and aimless in his life up until he saved an old woman and a dog from being crushed by a subway train in the nick of time. He was heralded as a hero. Chris then started changing his life for the better but the itch to feel that same high that he had felt during that heart-stopping rescue was ever present. Still chasing that high but unable to grasp it, Chris started drinking and was in a downward spiral once again. He eventually revealed to a friend that he once tried skydiving to chase the same high and got banned because he delayed pulling the parachute. His friend then told him that perhaps it wasn’t the adrenaline rush that Chris was chasing after but rather the feeling of doing something heroic. Armed with this revelation, Chris went to work.

Ékleipsis: The Abyss by Tamel Wino is a collection of short stories that focus on psychological horror. The title itself is a Greek word that means abandonment, which I think correlates with how the collection attempted to explore the darkness of human nature and the abandonment of what is rational in the face of the irrational. The stories were all predictable but this is not really a criticism because I’ve always thought that good horror is less about the unpredictability of the outcome and more about the effectiveness of the storytelling. Although I’d say that all of the stories in this collection started strong, I found that they fizzled out in the middle; in some more than the others. For some of the stories, suspension of disbelief with respect to the characters’ reactions was something that I did not find easy. If it was intentional, to show how irrational people could act, I think the execution could have been better. In one specific story, the abrupt change in the main character’s conviction was disorientating, especially since it was written from a first person point of view, hence I found the narrative quite unconvincing. However, one story that I particularly enjoyed was “En Prise” with how it explored the concept of how when a sheep meets a wolf, all the sheep could do was to pretend to also be a wolf in order to survive.

Quill says: Ékleipsis: The Abyss is a psychological horror short story collection that’s easy to read and predictable but explores promising concepts about the human psyche.

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