Review: “The Brink of Eternity” by Barbara Roden

3 of 5 stars.

The darker side of the age of exploration is brought forward in this faux-nonfictional tale. It purports to be a history almost along the lines of “found” footage. Three narrative or source threads alternate in relating the story making it academically interesting, though its inclusion in an anthology of dark fantasy and horror is less clear.

The indented thread claims to be quotes from We Did Not All Come Back: Polar Explorers, 1818-1909 by Kenneth Turnbull [HarperCollins Canada, 2005]. This invented source tells the history of protagonist William Henry Wallace’s life in Virginia and then his leaving to explore the uncharted northern ice expanses to find a passage into inner realms of the planet, not unlike a quasi-realistic Journey to the Center of the Earth.

The italicized thread follows Wallace lost on the ice in his final known days trying to survive on seals and sheltering in a series of “ice houses.”

The non-indented, non-italicized thread, tells an earlier version of Wallace before he is alone on the ice. The tone for both narrative threads is appropriately Victorian, but lamentably distant.

This story was included in the anthology The Year’s Best Dark Fantasy & Horror: 2010 edited by Paula Guran.
[Check out my other reviews here.]


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