Written by: Drake Morgan
After reading Scully’s debut novel Verland: The Transformation, I was eager to dive into her second release. The Knife and The Wound It Deals is a short story collection and reflects a diverse range of styles and themes. The Gothic touch she brought to Verland: The Transformation is most definitely present, but she proves a multi-faceted talent with touches of science fiction, noir, and fantasy.
The Gothic literary tradition is her forte, and the collection opens with an eerie, atmospheric piece on, rather appropriately, death. “This Thing Lives” is an examination of a man afraid to live and when faced with death, he discovers the horrific truth about his barren existence. “Champ’s Last Round” is a rousing tale far more in the traditional horror vein than other Scully offerings. Part zombie, part Frankenstein experiment, it is disturbing and terrible in its implications. “Grief Assassins” is another highlight, reflecting Scully’s depth of writing. This story blurs the lines between science fiction, fantasy, and horror superbly. “A Simple Game of Chess” is a trip inside the mind of a madman. The twisting paths and winding roads almost left me in a state of madness, particularly after the fleeting reference to Communists and decadence that haunted me for hours afterward. Stories like “Fire Devils,” “Earth Shall Return Them,” and “The Mirror Tells a Different Tale” put Scully squarely in the forefront of modern Gothic writers.
This is not horror in the modern sense. This is Gothic literature. It’s not brutal, violent, or gore-soaked. The stories are dark, haunting, disturbing, and horrific in their implications. Scully takes the darkness of the human soul, rips it from the hiding places deep within us, and forces us to look the beast in the face. A much more frightening prospect than one more serial killer I assure you.