Review: Withersin, Volume 3, Turpentine, Iodine, Arsenic

by Mike Griffiths

withersinWithersin, Volume 3, Turpentine, Iodine, Arsenic. Misty Gersley, Editor in Chief.

If you haven’t heard of Withersin, I would strongly suggest that you get yourself a copy right away. Although primarily a horror-inspired publication, its mixed-media approach allows it to cover a wide range of interests, which leave most other magazines choking in its dust.

Where some magazines tend to focus on fiction to the exclusion of everything else, Withersin accepts no such limitations and, with sinister intent, exposes its readers to a myriad of bizarre and disturbing subjects. Within the twisted pages of Withersin, you will find such subjects as supernatural investigations, unusual saints, demented dreamscapes, and unexplained phenomenon. The editors also feature interviews ranging from influential horror authors to leaders within the paranormal communities.

Withersin has just recently changed its format. While some magazines have gone the e-publication way, Withersin has moved in a completely unique direction. What used to be a tri-annual magazine is now only put out once a year, but here is the strange part. Even though it is now in what could be considered book form, it is still three separate magazine issues, under one cover!

One of the most unsettling things I found between the pages of this current manifestation of Withersin was the reportedly true tale of a ghost encounter called “Do You Want To Play Catch?” by Heather J. Cutherbertson. Not much actually scares me these days, or if it does it is because I’ve tried hard to let it, but this story did it on its own.

There were four interviews in the most recent Withersin publication. I found the discussion with Dr. Robert Schoch, who is a professor of Geology and Paleontology at Boston University, very fascinating. He has painstakingly broken down various types of paranormal activities and abilities and is attempting to study them in a scientific manner. Far from being a kneejerk believer, but not quite a skeptic, Schoch’s numerous books investigate the various supernatural phenomenon that humans have, or at least claim to have, encountered. Schoch often has his own take on such matters, such as his belief that poltergeist activities are caused by the will of the people involved and have nothing whatsoever to do with spirits of the dead.

Without a doubt, Withersin is one of the best and most entertaining horror-focused magazines available. These current issues of Withersin feature numerous works of dark fiction, such as, “Still Life, With Fries” by Michael A. Pignatella. In this tale, a hungry traveler stops much too far off the beaten path in order to satisfy his hunger. The food smells good, but he soon discovers that he is less-than-pleased about how things end up being on the menu.

Withersin is edited by two very-talented women and sometimes, their choice in extreme horror can be more terrifying for their female readers. A great example of this is the short story “Movie Queen” by J.M. Harris. In this insanely bizarre journey into terror, a woman is forced to face something far more horrific than her worst nightmares could have conjured up.

Another story that could be more disturbing for women is “Hermanesha”, written by Richard Wright. In this unnerving tale, a woman is taken hostage and kept naked by a man that brings “dysfunctional” up to a professional status. He, however, is not a slice-them-across-the-throat-and-get-a-new-one serial killer. The man considers this hostage his new girlfriend. She soon realizes that her only means of escape is a delicate dance with his psychosis.

There is not much one could complain about here if you enjoy horror and dipping into the realms of the unexplained and supernatural. Perhaps the word count on their stories could be a bit short, but with how much they pack into the magazine, this makes sense and also lends itself to a faster-paced exploration into the uncanny. Withersin is a model of what any horror magazine should be striving for. It is holistic, diverse and very particular with what it allows within its pages. Without a doubt, this is an enjoyable read and well worth the investment.