I first became aware of Joanna Parypinski when we shared space in the anthology INDIANA SCIENCE FICTION 2011. I was impressed by her work, so when I heard her first novel was coming out I picked up a copy. I’m glad I did. PANDORA (2012) is a great read.
Joanna has populated her fictional town of Sickle Falls with well-rounded, engaging characters. There’s Ben, the good kid who’s relentlessly bullied by a trio of miscreants, and Edna, a successful writer whose stories may be starting to affect her mind, just to name a couple. The tale’s protagonist is Maria, a woman who moves to Sickle Falls with her husband Chris for a new teaching position awaiting him there.
The basement of their new house is filled with grim paintings of a demonic-looking woman. Maria also finds an intricately carved ivory box. Trouble soon sweeps across the town after their arrival, bringing supernatural chaos and death with it.
Joanna’s ability to juggle multiple story lines is masterful. I found each one intriguing, so there’s no let down when it shifts from one character to another.
It’s amazing how much is packed into this short novel. I was personally drawn in by the rich characters, haunted house aspects, and an ancient evil antagonist. That’s not all that’s here though. There’s a mass murderer at large, a nice bit of mythological history, a descent into madness, and more. I have a feeling we’ll soon be hearing the name Joanna Parypinski mentioned as a major force in horror fiction.
You can keep up with Joanna at http://joannaparypinski.com/
Reviewed by Matt Cowan