Sunday, March 20, 2022

The Peculiar Affliction of Allison White, by Jesse Bethea


"The Peculiar Affliction of Allison White," by Jesse Bethea, in Chilling Crime Short Stories, Flame Tree Publishing, 2022.

Most of the stories in this book are reprints, including one by me.  Bethea's tale is one of nine originals, if I counted correctly.

This is a story about science versus superstition.  We are in rural New England in the late nineteenth century. The narrator is a physician.

His problem is that a young girl - his own niece - is claiming to be ill and furthermore saying that she is being attacked by vampires.  The irrational villagers believe her bizarre story and are digging up the graves of the supposed monsters, searching for signs that the dead have been escaping from their graves.  "T]here are no signs of things that don't exist," the doctor grumbles.

If he can't find a way of conquering this madness corpses are not the only victims who will be harmed.  This is a very clever story.

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