Rachel Cordasco’s Review of „Black Tea and Other Tales” by Samuel Marolla (Italy)

    Rachel Cordasco : “I first read the title story in The Apex Book of World SF 4 (ed. Mahvesh Murad, 2015) a year ago, and I remember being extremely disturbed by it then. Just a couple of days ago, I read it again, and it was even more frightening. All three stories collected in Black Tea and Other Tales are unsettling and terrifying precisely because they mess with the reader’s own sense of reality. These stories draw on hallucinations, shadows, and coincidences (or are they) in such a way that we’re never quite sure where the threat is coming from.  Marolla places the reader in the already disturbed minds of his protagonists, such that we cannot see beyond what they see and experience. We’re along for the ride, and the most terrifying thing of all is that we have no control.

    Black Tea” (which received an honorable mention in Ellen Datlow’s Best Horror of the Year 2013) masterfully draws us into a reeling, nauseatingly hallucinatory world in which four men (electricians) are hunted down by an old woman within a constantly-morphing abandoned house. We’re dropped into the action knowing nothing more than the trapped electricians, who can’t seem to remember who they are or why they’re in the house at all. Only the notes that they write to themselves warning about the old lady- claiming that she’s evil and is trying to kill them- make them suspicious and eager to escape. The shifting rooms and vertigo-inducing hallways leave the men easy prey to the thing pretending to be an old lady, and there doesn’t seem to be a way out…”

    The review’s continuation is here, on Rachel Cordasco‘s site Speculative Fiction in Translation


    Black Tea and Other Tales” by Samuel Marolla (Italy)

    translated by Andrew Tanzi

    Acheron Books

    November 16, 2014

    62 pages


    Rachel S. Cordasco, lover of all things literary, operatic, and yarn-y.

    She earned a Ph.D in Literary Studies from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, US in 2010, and taught courses in American and British literature, and Composition. She also worked at the Wisconsin Historical Society Press.

    Currently, she writes for Speculative Fiction in Translation, Book Riot and (formerly) for SF Signal.

    Welcome, lovers of speculative fiction. For the past two years, I’ve been reading a lot of spec fic in (English) translation and am constantly amazed at the rich diversity of the genre and its iterations around the world. I started reviewing spec fic in translation at SF Signal in 2014, and thanks in large part to John DeNardo’s support, I’ve forged some wonderful connections with publishers, authors, translators, bloggers, and readers who all recognize the importance of reading stories from other cultures and traditions. Thus we learn just how similar we humans are, and how fascinatingly different. Speculative fiction offers us a unique perspective on the different peoples who call this planet home, and translation is itself a way of turning the alien into the familiar. This is why I want this site to be a home for all sorts of information on the genre (and thus a continuation of the World SF blog created by Lavie Tidhar): we’ll have reviews of the latest translated spec fic; interviews with authors, translators, publishers, editors, etc.; a massive and always-updated bibliography of every translated work of speculative fiction (yes, it’s a tall order, which is why I’m counting on you to help me); and many other features. So for those of you who have found yourself wondering what Romanian science fiction is like, or why people are so pumped about the Three-Body Trilogy, this is the place for you. I’ll be politely asking (i.e. demanding) contributions to this site from all of you wonderful readers, so get ready. Thanks, and in the words of a great starship captain…ENGAGE! ” – Rachel Cordasco



    Latest articles

    Related articles