Plans Diaboliques – Dany Dagenais (2016)

Not my usual reading fare, but in the name of national linguistic unity I thought I’d read a French book for a change and do my part to coalesce the Two Solitudes here in the Great White North. I also needed to reinvigorate those brain cells dedicated to that task as I get to practice my French oral deftness at work but rarely do any reading in the language. I do read French on occasion but not as much as I did in elementary and high school when I hated doing it. At that time I was even forced to read a few novels as part of the curriculum, but hardly the types of novel that pique my interests. Being so out of practice, what I needed was something I could digest in smaller doses like a collection of short stories. Luckily I happened to picke up just that from author Dany Dagenais at a local comic convention last year. Plans Diaboliques contains an entertaining assortment of stories that range between horror, science fiction and just a touch of the bizarre in snippets that are easy enough to understand and teach me a few things along the way.

The pocket sized glossy softcover – who’s uncredited cover artwork should be attributed to Sv Bell judging by some of his previous work – comes in at a moderate 156 pages contains the following eight stories

6 Degrés de Séparation: “6 Degrees of Separation”

A fast paced alien parasite story in which a neck burrowing, tentacled invader hops from one person to another chasing some ultimate unknown goal. As new characters are introduced they just as soon become the next host for the alien and are then used bring the alien one step closer to that goal. But’s that goal remains a mystery during the deadly journey.

Destin: “Destiny”

A simple but entertaining take on a visit to a clairvoyant by a highly skeptical woman. Despite some evidence that the gypsy seems to know personal information the skeptic makes a mental checklist of the typical ploys and tactics used by con artists to garner repeat business. When the psychic dispenses the three staples – Money, Love and Death – the woman is satisfied she is a fake. When some of her predictions begin to become true in a impossibly short time the woman steadfastly she refuses to believe the last ominous one.

La Chose Dans Le Sous-Sol: “The Thing in the Basement”

One of the longer stories in the collection about a man who discovers a … well a “Thing”, in his basement after tracking down the source of a recurring noise. Transitioning from fear to fatherly concern, the relationship develops until the man decides to introduce his new friend to the woman who recently left him, convinced that it was just a misunderstanding.

Le Fossoyeur: “The Gravedigger”

What does a young gravedigger do when he starts hearing shouts and banging coming from the coffin he is about to inter? A highly predictable outcome but the scant few pages make for a fun few minutes of reading.

Le Banquet: “The Banquet”

When little oversized orphan Xavier finally gets adopted by a wealthy couple, it appears like a dream come true. Living in a mansion, lavished with gifts, taking exotic vacations on a personal jet are all perks bestowed upon him by his new parents. But having a personal chef attend to his every culinary whim is the best fringe benefit of living the high life. He can hardly wait for the big annual feast his parents arrange for all their friends.

Une Bonne Journee “A Good Day”

A little magic restores a meat butchers vigor to run his business despite a few bad apple customers who harangue and complain in the face of all his efforts to please. An odd form of revenge in this decidedly weird tale.

Marie-Jeanne “Mary-Jane”

When young Thomas and his girlfriend are caught indulging on a bit of weed by the girl’s father he is surprised that not only is the father not mad, but has a tale to tell of his own drug laced adventures. But the father, barely able to contain his annoyance with greedy and simple-minded Thomas, has a surprise and hallucinatory ending.

La Thérapie de George le Peureux “Scared George’s Therapy”

George has a fear complex that bundles more than a few phobias. In fact his panic spans to just about everything you can imagine. As he pours his heart out to the patrons in a local bar, rather than pity the poor man, they give him a solution. One that changes his life in the literal sense.

I thoroughly enjoyed this collection (available at indiepress.net and look forward to reading his next collection – Slinger Sister – which I also recently picked up. Et je suis sûr que mes compétences en lecture française se sont améliorées.

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