Three Gothic Stories by Thursday Simpson (Moonchaps) takes the reader on a journey of longing, lust, loneliness, and sometimes, murder. As the title of the collection suggests, the three stories fall within the category of gothic fiction, following protagonists through moments of horror, beauty, death, and connection.
“A Woman Who is Pure of Heart,” the first story in Three Gothic Stories, is about a psychic who takes an angry father she meets at a bar back to her apartment for an unexpected evening. There is a hunger in the protagonist, a desire to move to Italy, to get away and have a better, more romantic life. She finds the man she picks up abhorrent and is savage in her butchery of him, literally slicing him until he bleeds to death, but Simpson gives the reader insight to understand her motives and her judgment of this man.
The second story, “Leather, Black Chords,” is the standout of the collection. It follows a performer at a S&M club who ends up in a precarious situation with a male stranger. The show is over and everyone has gone for the night, leaving her alone and seemingly defenseless. Not this character though. When the man goes to hit her, she grabs his arm, pulls him down, and forces her leg against his chest. She disarms him and turns his own gun on him before killing him.
The last story in the collection doesn’t quite hold up in my opinion. “An Opera of Lyrics and Saints Living in the City” seems disjointed and disorganized in comparison to the other two stories. The gothic element isn’t as present and I kept waiting for something to happen in the story more than the protagonist talking about various places and people she encountered. One aspect of this story I appreciate, however, is its focus on art. The protagonist is enthralled with an opera written about St. Francis of Assisi that we are told she checks out from the library every time she comes to New York. There are also references to various other art forms such as paintings and music, which adds dimension to the story.
Thursday Simpson has put together a free soundtrack to listen to alongside Three Gothic Stories that is definitely worth checking out.