Charity and Sacrifice by Gloria Oliver
Publisher: Uncial Press
Genre: Historical, Horror
Length: Short Story (32 pages)
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe
Trapped in a loveless marriage, will Elizabeth’s sacrifice to regain Robert’s love be in vain?
All Elizabeth hoped to do was to rekindle the love in her marriage. Yet despite ignoring her social obligations and immersing herself in her husband’s important work, somehow this only made things worse.
Her last hope is her unborn child — a source of unrequited love to fill the void inside her. But that too is taken from her. How? Why?
Her doctor avoids her. Her husband berates her. And there are whispers — whispers telling of things that cannot be.
Yet the more Elizabeth ignores the rumors, the more they press on her to seek the truth, so she concocts a plan to find it. To find it and hopefully exonerate both Robert and herself. To discover the reason she’s lost all that’s dear to her. And she will do it, even if she must venture into Whitechapel to do it.
Secrets can destroy a life that someone has spent years building. They can also transform it.
This was one of the most deliciously chilling tales that I’ve read in a long time. The horror was mixed in with Elizabeth’s quiet worries about the fragile state of her marriage and her grief over her terrible loss. I genuinely wasn’t sure what genre I was reading in the beginning because there was so much going on. The scenes were written so that they could fit into several different genres, and that made me insatiably curious to know what the author was going to do with all of the themes she’d introduced in the beginning. While I can’t say much else about this without giving away spoilers, I was quite pleased with how Ms. Oliver tied everything together. To me, the best kind of scary story is one that can be found in the last place I’d ever think to look for it.
With that being said, I would have liked to see a little more foreshadowing in the storyline. I had to reread the ending a couple of times to figure out what the author was hinting at. The clues that were shared earlier on were so subtle that I didn’t pick up on enough of them to understand the final scene the first time I read it even though I had really loved the plot up until that point. If this section had been easier to comprehend, I would have chosen a much higher rating.
The character development was nicely done, especially when it came to Elizabeth. Even though she grew quite a bit, my first impression of her was so strong that I could completely understand why her personality matured the way it did. She remained true to her original self even while she evolved into an entirely new version of herself. I deeply enjoyed watching her make that change.
Charity and Sacrifice is full of the kind of horror that slowly sneaks up on a reader. Give it a chance if you’re a fan of psychological frights.