The Book of Fears


125 pages
ISBN 0-920304-31-1





Rosalie I. Tennison is Editor of Communicator Magazine.


The Book of Fears is a disturbing collection of short stories that grip the reader. Susan Kerslake examines many human fears in this ten-story volume. Kerslake has the ability to reach inside the mind and describe the feelings of someone who is trapped. She examines imprisonment, hospitalization, loneliness, and pain.

The stories have descriptive twists that catch the reader unawares. The endings are ambiguous but the implication is that the outcome will not be positive. For example, a kidnapped woman in “The Rules” resigns herself to non-rescue because her captor doesn’t play by her rules. In another story, “Choices,” Peggy realizes that her boyfriend might not stay with her following an accident that has left her without feeling in her legs.

Some of the stories are touching in their pathos. “Did you ever...” describes the life of Emma, an elderly woman living in poverty forgotten by her family. Hilary, in “Mirror Mirror,” fills her lonely evenings watching video tapes of herself dressed in second-hand-store clothes playing out her fantasies.

The Book of Fears is Susan Kerslake’s first collection of short stories. It is a haunting debut that traps the reader in an unforgettable web of fear. Some of the stories touch a sympathetic, responsive chord, but others disturb and unsettle.

With this selection of stories, Kerslake has taken the short story genre into another dimension — the realm of fear and how it affects the mind.


Kerslake, Susan, “The Book of Fears,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed April 21, 2024,