Personal Demonsby Published 01 Jun 1998
Short stories by well known horror writer.
"Personal Demons" Reviews
The opening story is a wonderful take on urban myths, worth reading the book
for this alone.
This is a really good, four-star collection of short stories. Here are my ratings for each one.
Spanky's Back in Town: 4 stars
Dracula's Library: 5 stars and probably my favorite of the collection
Phoenix: 5 stars
Unforgotten: 5 stars
The Man Who Wound a Thousand Clocks: 5 stars
Inner Fire: 3 stars
Wage Slaves: 4 stars
Armies of the Heart: 4 stars
Five Star: 4 stars
Scratch: 3 stars
Still Life: 4 stars
The Cages: 3 stars
The Grand Finale Hotel: 4 stars
Midas Touch: 4 stars
Permanent Fixture: 3 stars
Looking for Bolivar: 4 stars
Learning to Let Go: 3 stars
I have come to find I enjoy short stories; I didn't used to. This is an older work of Fowler's and he admits to holding back a lot due to what he perceived the public would accept. There are some interesting concepts here and I'm curious to read some recent work of his, now that there seems to be "no-holds-barred" in literature. (As, I think, it should be.)
Collection of 17 short stories
Spanky's back in town- a faberge (ornate) casket from Russia is discovered by English archaeologists and it contains something very important that someone wants to get back and use for their own personal benefit. It was ok. Rating: 3.5/5
Dracula's Library- Jonathan Harker is at castle Dracula and is tasked with categorizing and appraising Dracula's library and its enormous collection of books. As you would expect, strange things start to happen to Harker as time goes on. Fowler does a great job of writing the story and making it feel like a lost chapter to Stoker's masterpiece. Rating: 5/5
Phoenix- a wealthy businessman is told that he's one of the chosen ones who can bring about change to the world and a church offers him the opportunity to join in on their ceremonies and they will almost worship him because of his privileged status in their eyes. He also has been assigned an old man who is kind of like his guardian angel. The man finds out that there is more to this church of the Phoenix and being than the chosen one than he originally thought and maybe these people aren't so crazy after all. Rating: 4/5
Unforgotten- a shrewd young businessman and his associate find a hidden room in one of the old buildings that he purchases. A room put there for a specific purpose. Rating: 4/5
The man who wound a thousand clocks- A sultan who is obsessed with time enlists a young man to tend to and specifically wind, the thousand clocks that are a part of the kingdom. Very good. Rating: 5/5
Inner fire- England is in the midst of a present day ice age and one man attempts to figure out what he wants to do now that the situation seems hopeless and the entire country is a desolate wasteland with few survivors and even fewer supplies. Pretty average. Rating: 3/5
Wage slaves- a man starts working at a completely computerized, self regulated company and office building where all the workers behave strangely. Interesting concept but doesn't go anywhere. Rating: 3/5
Armies of the heart- mobs of people attack a gay bar and its patrons after a child killer is suspected to be in their midst. Appreciate the social commentary. Rating: 3/5
Five star- a crooked member of Parliament is on vacation with his wife somewhere in Europe to try and let the heat from a recent scandal die down. When their return plane is delayed, they're offered to stay in an unknown hotel because all the others are booked. Maybe not the best choice? Excellent little tale. Rating: 5/5
Scratch- a struggling couple decide to play the lottery. The husband purchases a scratch off ticket and wins a less than desirable prize. Nice shorter tale that started well but ended a bit flat. Rating: 4/5
Still life- a tale of a woman who goes to a coffee shop every week and thinks about her lost love who moved away years ago. Perhaps true love never dies. Rating: 3.5/5
The cages- people are being kept in cages and two men are discussing it. Rating: 3/5
The grand finale hotel- A former tabloid journalist snoops around a hotel that offers a special service designated only for certain guests. Rating: 5/5
Midas touch- a woman's neighbor is more than just a quiet, attractive man. A lot more. Very good.
Permanent fixture- a woman raises a family in a house across the street from a soccer stadium and unwittingly becomes a part of the fan base in some capacity. I didn't like it but people who are huge soccer fans might. Rating: 2.5/5
Looking for bolivar- an Englishman is asked to house sit for a very eccentric and quirky woman who lives in an apartment in Manhattan with a bull terrier named Bolivar and too many strange guests going in and out. Funny story. Rating: 4/5
Learning to let go- a professor, his wife, and friend are on the train heading to a conference to lecture on fact and fiction. They, along with others, begin telling stories to pass the time. They soon discover what is really fact and what is mere fiction. Very introspective. Mentions several of the stories that came before it in the collection. Nice way to end the collection. Rating: 4/5
POSITIVES: Fowler is a very imaginative writer. His stories bounce around from genre to genre at times and it works for the most part.
The writing is good and in some stories great. Fowler is descriptive without being overly so and he can create some quirky little characters.
Most of the stories were solid to above average with a few being very good.
Pretty good collection. No real clunkers in the bunch except for maybe "Permanent fixture."
NEGATIVES: The horror is lacking except for "Dracula's library" and maybe a couple more.
I wasn't really that excited to continue on with the book. While I never contemplated putting it down, I just wasn't that enthused about reading a new story. It didn't hook me completely. But that's not to say it isn't a good collection because it is for the most part. It's kind of hard to explain the feeling I had while reading it over several days.
Interesting concepts employed but some of the stories have some abrupt or clipped endings that left me scratching my head a bit.
Christopher Fowler is one of the most gifted short story writers in any genre. Collections like DEMONISED and THE DEVIL IN ME are perfect examples of his masterful comand over short story form.PERSONAL DEMONS is comparatively inferior work.The stories here are uneven, rangin from brilliant pieces like PHOENIX, an excellent "Biblical" apocalylse tale,and CAGES,a very short story about some weird prison that could be Hell,to mediocre ones like DRACULA'S LIBRARY, that reads like lost chapter of Bram Stoker novel.Fowler rounds up the collection with a story in wich characters tell stories to one another while on a train journey,stories we just read.This is a good collection but not in the same league as DEMONISED and THE DEVIL IN ME..