Reviewed by Karen L. Newman
Small publishers such as Gothic Press generally don’t release reference books. However, Akin to Poetry: Observations on Some Strange Tales of Robert Aickman by Philip Challinor is such a book and is an interesting academic study of some of Aickman’s short stories.
This book reminds me of the Cliff Notes and Monarch Notes so popular several generations ago, before the internet. All have soft covers and contain summaries of important works. A student could read Challinor’s book and have an excellent grasp of each story without reading it. If one has already read Aickman’s work, this book enhances the reader’s comprehension. However, this book is not for the casual reader who would find the dissection of each story tedious. The flavor of Aickman’s work is lost.
The references are noted at the end of the book, not in numerical order as in most academic books. The reader must make an effort to match the references with the citations for each story, another reason the book is not for the casual reader. In a lot of instances Aickman’s stories are retold, unfortunately in a boring manner; such is the result of most academic work. The price of $22.50 for Challinor’s work here is rather high, in my opinion, for a soft-cover book. However, a true fan of Aickman would be willing to pay.
Akin to Poetry: Observations on Some Strange Tales of Robert Aickman is really a book for a true fan. If you’re interesting in learning more about Aickman, read his stories for yourself.
--Karen L. Newman