Review: “Who Looks Back?” by Kyla Ward

3 stars.

Drawing from a Lovecraftian place, this short tale takes a natural disaster and offers a potential supernatural horror interpretation of the events upon the two protagonists.

Waimangu, New Zealand is a young dynamic landscape shaped by seismic and volcanic forces that churn the earth and turn lakes into super-heated, gas-leaking acid baths. Here, extreme eco-touring friends, Kelsie and Lewis, descend to race across a valley using parkour the urban, gymnastic, cross country sport. Amid toxic, hallucinogenic gases and caustic thick steam, the two lose their senses and their bead on each other as thermal vents go active.

Throughout the story, the POV changes from focusing on one main character to the other with every other paragraph. Appropriately, as each is experiencing a unique, disorienting read on the landscape, the collective disorientation levels up.

“Who Looks Back?” appears in New Cthulhu 2: More Recent Weird edited by Paula Guran after originally appearing in Shotguns v. Cthulhu, ed. Robin D. Laws (Stone Skin Press, 2013).
[Check out my other reviews here.]


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