by Caryn Larrinaga

Twisted Tree Press
2021, 165 pages, $9.95

ISBN 978-0-9990200-7-4

Click here to purchase

DREAD SOFTLY is an excellent collection in which a few stories stand out:

“No Soliciting.” Doris scowls at the ring of her doorbell. She just wants her grocery order of a special kind of food: That is all she is looking for. Instead, a salesman shows up, despite her parrot, Frankie’s, calls to shoo the guy away. Little Doris finds out, when she allows the salesman inside, what he truly is.

“Watchers’ Warning.” Ripley, the rescue cat that Fiona brings along with her, is frightened of the dark, but more frightened that Fiona doesn’t recognize the creatures inside the house. Ripley deduces that they must be invisible to Fiona, but he knows what must be coming, trying desperately for her attention, to get her to leave and avoid the dangers.

“A Friend In Need.” Annie’s friend, Emily, is in a coma, unlikely to come back, until Annie speaks to her spirit and is tasked with finding a book of spells and a way home. Unfortunately, that way, for Annie at least, can be dangerous.

“The Bump.” A boy and his parents are on a long journey, and stop in a town for some rest. The boy encounters a bunch of children playing a strange game, while the children exhibit behavior that is even stranger.

“Inguma We Trust.” Imagine a story in which the dream, or, actually nightmare, becomes real: in this case, the illustration of Inguma by Basque artist Raquel Alzate (was that demon used on a cover of Ray Bradbury’s first hardcover edition, LONG AFTER MIDNIGHT, Alfred A. Knopf, 1976, the same demon?) In this case, a boy, Thomas, is the victim. His mother, Amaya, is doing all she can with help from the boy’s father, Glenn. Help arrives in the form of the imp, Zazpi, and his brothers, and all they want to do is work for their master. The master is Amaya, and they are ordered to protect Thomas from whatever is haunting him, unseen, while he sleeps. The demon may be too great for Zazpi to handle — or perhaps not.