Thommy Ford Reads

A blog by the staff of the Thomas Ford Memorial Library

“Sardonicus” by Ray Russell

saturday-shortsSaturday Shorts Week 8
Welcome to our new weekend series for 2014.
Every Saturday this year one of our staff will suggest a favorite short story from the library’s collection, all of them a great choice for quick weekend reading.

haunted castles

Sardonicus is the first story in the collection Haunted Castles: FIC RUSSELL

Traumitized in his youth, Mr. Sardonicus has developed a rigid and unchangeable smile on his face, as if a caricature of a sneering villain were affixed there. It’s ok though, Sardonicus has a fool-proof plan that’s not at all nefarious:

1. Use vast wealth to buy a brooding old castle in Bohemia. Check.

2. Trap a beautiful wife from a down-on-their-luck family in a loveless marriage. Check.

3. Use said beautiful wife to lure the world’s greatest physician to the castle in order to cure the deformed grin. Check.

So there. Everything should work out just fine now, right? Of course not. Especially since this famous physician turns out to be all noble and heroic and stuff, naturally more into saving the damsel in distress than fixing Sardonicus’ face.

I think it’s a fun set-up, and gothic storytelling at it’s best—taut, quickly paced and big on atmosphere. It’s got broad, bold characters that are all likeable, even the big bad evil one. On top of that it’s got a perfect thriller of a twist at the end.

Give it a try and if you like “Sardonicus” carry on and read it’s companion pieces “Sagittarius” and “Sanguinarius.” They’re all collected together in Penguin’s Ray Russell collection Haunted Castles.

Review by Matthew

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This entry was posted on February 22, 2014 by in Book Review, Fiction, Horror, Saturday Shorts, Short Stories.
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