Amber's Reviews > Mansfield with Monsters

Mansfield with Monsters by Katherine Mansfield
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's review
Jul 24, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: reviewed
Read in May, 2012

I have to confess: I’ve never read anything by Katherine Mansfield. Thus, I’ve no idea how closely these short stories are based on her work. I should probably also state up front that I’m not usually a huge fan of short stories. However, personal prejudices aside, the idea (and cover) of this book is certainly compelling – NZ stories with a twist of supernatural flavour. Don’t go into this book expecting comedy however – despite the name, Mansfield with Monsters is in a very different vein to other out-of-copyright works republished with added monsters. Mansfield with Monsters fits snugly into the horror genre, with its seamless, and often unsettling, blending of mundane and fantastical.

Mansfield with Monsters is engagingly written, and the authors’ voice will pull you effortlessly into each story. The supernatural elements were such a natural part of each story that if I ever do read any of Katherine Mansfield’s originals, I’m fully expecting there to be zombies involved. My personal favourite was The Woman at the Store, which I found as deeply creepy as only a good horror can be.

However, I grew impatient with many of the stories as it seemed as if interesting supernatural elements were left hanging without a satisfying resolution. One example of this is in The Young Girl, where adults are bonded with leeches that seem to feed on their emotions. Why they bond leeches is not explained, nor does it have any bearing on the story, which is simply about an unhappy teenager having to go out to tea with her younger brother and his guardian. The Daughters of the Lizard Colonel features two middle-aged daughters who are trying to adjust to the recent death of their overly-controlling father. The supernatural twist: they can change into reptilian creatures, and they eat people. There’s also a hint that their lone human servant may be bound to them in a supernatural way. Is any of this resolved? No. This slice-of-life style is, I believe, typical of Katherine Mansfield’s stories, but I found it incredibly frustrating.

Despite my frustrations, I have to say that overall I thought the book was very well done. I would recommend this book to fans of Katherine Mansfield who are open to a tasteful supernatural reinterpretation of her work, and also to those who like short stories with a horror/fantasy flavour.
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