Review: “Replacements” by Lisa Tuttle

5 of 5 stars.

Tonally pitch perfect, a subtle horror ensnares the life of an average working stiff on his morning London commute in this short urban fantasy.

Stuart Holder glanced down at a pavement covered in a leaf-fall of fast-food cartons and white paper bags and saw, amid the dog turds, beer cans, and dead cigarettes, something horrible.

With quick comparisons to a leathery naked-looking cat, a wing-less bat and an evil monkey, the creature Stuart encounters inspires horror in the man more accustomed to mercy in regards to wayward spiders and wasps and other pests. Despite the creature’s obvious pathetic helplessness, Stuart crushes its head under the heel of his shoe.

Two blocks later and now in a commuter crowd, Stuart encounters another of the horrible creatures presumably seen by only one other commuter, a female indeterminably fascinated / horrified. Stuart refrains from chivalrously skull-crushing that beast, too. But then his day starts to go weird. His workaholic, yet routine wife doesn’t return a phone call from him and then leaves work early. When she gets home, she has a horrible creature in tow . . .

This tale brilliantly rides the line between horror and allegory as it shows the change in relationship encountered by young couples upon having children.

This tale appears in Creatures: Thirty Years of Monsters edited by John Langan and Paul Tremblay after originally appearing in Metahorror.
[Check out my other reviews here.]


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