Bizarrely, the fates seem to have conspired to give me a whole load of really positive reviews this week as an early Christmas present! So, without further adieu…
Marshall’s work is fantastical and surreal, with similarities to that of writers like Kelly Link and Robert Shearman. But whereas Link’s stories can sometimes seem wilfully opaque, Marshall’s are built round an emotional core that is always engaging; whereas Robert Shearman might use his twisted plots for the purposes of dark comedy, Marshall’s stories are full of heartbreak and hurt. … Gifts For The One Who Comes After should single out Marshall as one of the most accomplished writers of the fantastic being published today, an exceptional collection likely to be among the best 2014 has to offer.
— This is Horror
Helen Marshall’s “Gifts For The One Who Comes” is her love letter to storytelling. Marshall examines the way that we are shaped by the tales we tell ourselves and the stories that are told about us. She reminds the reader that we are made up as much of stories as we are of matter, and that they shape the way we think about ourselves and those who are around us.
Helen Marshall’s second collection, following two years on from her acclaimed Hair Side, Flesh Side, is a skilled butcher’s knife, slipping under the reader’s skin and lifting it away, baring nerve endings to the sharp bite of air. Viscera are reeled out and read; shameful appetites are exposed. By the end of the collection we are all complicit: Marshall’s world is one in which all flesh is alive, and everyone must eat.
The focus of this collection is Marshall’s writing; her well crafted stories feature very stylistic and very unsettling prose. From bucolic small towns to small fishing villages, the atmosphere Marshall crafts is very subtle but also very suspenseful….Marshall’s powerfully disconcerting prose can switch from sentimental whimsy to disturbing grotesque in a single sentence. She baits her snares with believable, relatable characters and powerful affect, and the reader blunders into a tightening loop of the bizarre and dread.”
—Weird Fiction Review
After hearing multiple rave review of her second collection, Gifts For The One Who Comes, from panelists, authors, and fellow attendees, I was able to change my schedule at the last minute and slip into Helen’s reading — where I was thoroughly delighted. I dashed down to the Dealer’s Room and bought her book immediately. She is a major new talent, and you should investigate her work as soon as possible. I know I am.
Marshall is a masterful storyteller, penning stories that manage to be creepy and beautiful at the same time. Her fiction hits hard emotionally, bringing to mind the debut collections from Nathan Ballingrud and Livia Llewellyn. The stories explore many themes, among them family, dysfunction, inherited guilt, growing up, and regrets. Her writing comes across as honest, and fearless, qualities which elevate her writing into the topmost tier of weird fiction being written today.