Welcome to our first Pulp Spotlight of 2023. For first time readers, these articles consist of reviews of pulp fiction we enjoy. Today, we’re focusing our attention on Serena Jayne’s 2022 short story collection, Necessary
Welcome to our first Pulp Spotlight of 2023. For first time readers, these articles consist of reviews of pulp fiction we enjoy. Today, we’re focusing our attention on Serena Jayne’s 2022 short story collection, Necessary Evils.
Back in the lost world of 2019, New Pulp Tales had the honor of publishing Jayne’s “A Hard Habit to Break,” which is collected in Necessary Evils. We mention this to ensure readers are aware of our bias toward Jayne’s work. We think she rocks, which is why we included her in New Pulp Tales Magazine Issue 1, our first and only printed work.
Enough of the formalities, let’s get down to business. Serena Jayne is a terrific writer whose prose keeps you entertained throughout her stories. The tales in Necessary Evils all run toward the darker side of life, drugs, depraved sexual gratification, and death. Of the eighteen pieces of fiction, I would categorize eight as horror, five as noir, and five as a mix of noir and horror but with relatively happy endings. The horror presented by Jayne is not focused on the supernatural and instead gives readers a look at threatening people and terrifying circumstances. Noir, if you’re not familiar with the genre, is often about flawed protagonists trying to find success, only to end up in increasingly worse situations. In the case of the collections title story “Necessary Evils,” the flawed main character’s tragic ending amuses, but in “Crazy Eights” it’s a horrifying and sad affair. It’s an interesting genre that I do not think is well known to most casual readers.
Since Jayne writes horror and noir it should not be a surprise to find out she’s very good at presenting seedy people and places in all their grimy details. After reading some of these stories you will feel like they have soiled you, and I mean that in the best possible way. Jayne transports you to the worlds her characters inhabit. There are tales told in unconventional means, such as “Best Friend Forever,” which is relayed via a series of legal letters. She also plays with fun tropes in stories like “Final Girlfriend,” a riff on the classic final girl formula in horror, and “Darkside Effect,” a twist on the Strange Case of Dr. Jackal and Mr. Hyde. Each entry in Necessary Evils has its own charm and they are all brisk and entertaining.
In summation, Serena Jayne’s work is excellent. She presents the worst aspects of humanity and does not pull any punches. You will be on the edge of your seat for every horrifying plot twist. Hopefully, we have convinced you to give Necessary Evils a read. It’s available for purchase here. You can get it on Kindle Unlimited, but if you’re a true pulp enthusiast you’ll want to smell the paper it’s printed on.
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