The Nightmare Chronicles

The Nightmare Chronicles - Douglas Clegg There is not a single story in the collection I did not like, and there are at least three that really stand out. What I like about Clegg, or at least about these stories, is that they are well written, patiently constructed, with a healthy emphasis on characterization. The stories are framed by a narrative in which a woman named Alice and her two sons have kidnapped a boy for ransom. It turns out that this boy is not quite of this world, and has the ability to project nightmares onto his captors. The nightmares he projects are the thirteen stories. While the framing narrative is unnecessary, and not as well constructed as the stories themselves, it is still nonetheless interesting.

There are a number of themes & ideas that appear throughout the work. There is emphasis on religion, relationships and skin. Religion appears in various forms, from misled zealots to avenging angel-monsters. Relationships vary throughout, from unfaithful lovers to masculine prison love, and all forms of familial relations, and its the tightness of some of the relationships that makes the threats in the stories all the more frightening.

Finally, skin makes several appearances throughout. Clegg deals frequently with human skin and the strange worlds that we hide underneath. We have skins acting as trophies, metamorphosing, housing other creatures and even embodying strange worlds. We even receive brief lessons regarding insects and exoskeletons, that, unlike us, have their soft spots safely on the inside. Overall, the skins in these stories generated a better framework than the story of Alice and the kidnapped boy-devil, and I enjoyed Clegg's ideas regarding skin so much that I waited for its appearance in each piece.

For my full-length review of the collection & its individual stories, please visit Casual Debris.