Craft and Style Description: What do you get when you cross the stylistic prose of Shirley Jackson and Sylvia Plath, and then sprinkle it with chilling flavors from stories like of Sebastian Gutierrez’s Gothika? Let me tell you. You get Jennifer Loring’s “Conduits.” And yes, if you love a dark, psychological tale where the canvas of a story uses poetic language in both large and subtle brushstrokes, you won’t be able to help yourself–you’ll totally dig this novella.

Experience of the Tale: Just so you know, I’m constantly commuting–trapped in a car for three to five hour drives or jetting on a plane to different military bases to teach. On days off, I might be exercising in my small swim spa at home. Because of this, audio books are the best way for me to enjoy the many stories my fellow writers/word artists have written.

I purchased the Audible form of Loring’s “Conduits,” for one of my commutes and as soon as I pressed “play” on my iPhone screen, I invited her dark tale to take me into a world of mental terrors. The Audible book’s narrator, Margy Stein, has an unnerving and mysterious voice that complements this lovely piece. Her tone has the poetic lilt necessary to emphasize the art of Loring’s words.

The Story: In this tale, a young woman (Mara) fights for her sanity while struggling not to drown in her personal maelstrom of past tragedies. It doesn’t help that the people she loves most in her life, die. Mara’s past challenges her sanity as spirits of the dead seek her out to use her for their specific needs. I won’t go into more detail since the story is just over two hours long and I don’t want to provide spoilers. Suffice to say, if you love psychological terror and poetic words, you’ll truly enjoy this dark adventure.

Summary: Loring is, essentially, a narrative poet. Yes, she can tell an amazing story, but it’s the accompanying pace–the rise and fall of the prose that laps at your mind like ripples of freezing water on a winter lake shore. Loring’s unique style raises beads of red across the reader’s brain and anticipation reigns as her razor words hover, poised to cut once more. As you stare at the blade, glinting in the moonlight, you’ll find you are powerless–snared in her tale of obsession and pain. Don’t be afraid. It won’t hurt–much.