Tabula Rasa

Tabula Rasa

Search / Site Map

Contacts

Australian Horror

Australian Horror Films

Recommended Viewing

Australian Monsters

 

Links

INTERVIEWS

The 2005 Spec. Fic Snapshot

 

KJ Bishop

Jack Dann

Will Elliott

Richard Harland

Robert Hood

Martin Murphy & Ian Iveson

Christian Read

Cameron Rogers

The Spierig Brothers

Peter Weir

Kim Wilkins

ARTICLES

Finding Carnacki the Ghost Finder

Pilots into the Unknown

OUR BOOKS

Prismatic

Agog! 1

Agog! 2

Daikaiju!

Epiphanies of Blood

Immaterial

Passing Strange

Southern Blood

INFORMATION

The Boys

The Roly Poly Man

Wake in Fright

REVIEWS

809 Jacob Street, by Marty Young

After The Bloodwood Staff, by Laura E. Goodin

The Art of Effective Dreaming, by Gillian Polack

Bad Blood, by Gary Kemble

Black City, by Christian Read

The Black Crusade, by Richard Harland

The Body Horror Book, by C. J. Fitzpatrick

Clowns at Midnight, by Terry Dowling

Dead Europe, by Christos Tsiolkas

The Dreaming, by Queenie Chan

Fragments of a Broken Land: Valarl Undead, by Robert Hood

Full Moon Rising, by Keri Arthur

Gothic Hospital, by Gary Crew

The Grief Hole, by Kaaron Warren

Hollow House, by Greg Chapman

My Sister Rosa, by Justine Larbalestier

Path of Night, by Dirk Flinthart

The Last Days, by Andrew Masterson

Lotus Blue, by Cat Sparks

Love Cries, by Peter Blazey, etc (ed)

Nil-Pray, by Christian Read

The Road, by Catherine Jinks

Perfections, by Kirstyn McDermott

Sabriel, by Garth Nix

Salvage, by Jason Nahrung

The Scarlet Rider, by Lucy Sussex

Skin Deep, by Gary Kemble

The Tax Inspector, by Peter Carey

Tide of Stone, by Kaaron Warren

The Time of the Ghosts, by Gillian Polack

Vampire Cities, by D'Ettut

While I Live, by John Marsden
 

2003 EyeScream Film Festival

2004 EyeScream Film Festival

2005 EyeScream Film Festival

2007 A Night of Horror Film Festival
 

Shadowmuse

Under the Blue Moon, 2008
 

Alison's Birthday

The Boys

Carmilla Hyde

Cassandra

Daybreakers

Dangerous Game

Dark Age

Dead End Drive-In

Gabriel

The Last Wave

Lost Things

The Long Weekend

Razorback

Summer of Secrets

Visitors

Wake in Fright
 

Hearts in Atlantis

OTHER HORROR PAGES

Modern Day

The Dark Ages: A History of Horror

On the Page

On the Screen

Reviews
 

Australian Comics
 

Tabula Rasa

The Scarlet Rider

by Lucy Sussex, Ticonderoga Publications 2016 (1996)

A Review by Kyla Lee Ward

The Scarlet Rider, by by Lucy Sussex

A writer is writing. She is selecting the right words to tell her story. This is a tricky and even dangerous business, for vengeance does not mean justice, negligence does not mean murder, and not even the title "orphan" is transparent. In short, words have consequences, and, if Mel can prove that the author of The Scarlet Rider was a woman, then that will have consequences too.

A recent arts graduate, Mel is so desperate for a job she agrees to a seemingly impossible task: identify the author of an anonymous novel serialised in an Australian newspaper during the 1860s. But, drawing on a memory of her childhood, she makes an almost immediate breakthrough. In her young life, Mel has already seen more than her share of tragedy, so maybe that's why the story affects her so personally. But as the coincidences begin to add up, she is forced to consider an alternative explanation.

"I felt like a huntress early in my search, but Geraldo reversed the chase, in the Fox and Hounds, making me prey, the creature hunted. He lost me, but there's someone else in pursuit, who's put an a in "hunted", making me feel haunted..."

In Melbourne, as conjured by Lucy Sussex, a busy traffic intersection can be transmuted into the gold and glass of an antique mirror. Antique mirrors,meanwhile, pack a wicked punch. Libraries and archives are repositories of the most interesting people imaginable, any of whom might well be a medium. In such a milieu, it is no great step to accept presences lurking behind one and influencing one's actions. Yet, are they benign, merely wanting the truth to out, or inimical to the living?

Exquisitely written and as carefully constructed as a Victorian acroustic, The Scarlet Rider is a rare find indeed. Taking on Australian history--a notoriously duplicitous beast--and making it relevant to an Australian present is something few genre writers would dare and fewer still succeed in. The Scarlet Rider dramatises the process of research, with verbal fencing matches, last-minute dashes across the city to make connections or retrieve a precious manuscript, and of course, the friction between Mel's growing obsession (and her growing confidence and self-respect) and her friends from university, with whom she shares a squalid apartment.

"They kissed, and Mel smelt old wood pulp in the fluffy hair, which was almost the same shade as May's skin, both being a sallow, jaundiced colour suggestive of decaying paper. Mayzee was an invalid, but Mel was still half-inclined to ascribe her colouring to the paperbacks she loved."

Sheer grotesquerie. But even here, we must be careful of words. "I never knew 'research' was a synonym for 'hanky-panky'."

Sussex is known for her historical and literary non-fiction, editing and reviews, as well as fiction. Her only adult novel to date (though she has written severally for young adults), The Scarlet Rider won the Ditmar Award upon its first release and, to my mind, is as perceptive and relevant today. Contrary to popular belief, not all research can be conducted on the net and I cannot believe the prospect for arts graduates has improved. Above all, the search for origins has grown no easier and requires no less courage.

To further explore Sussex's ouvere, I would recommend her collections of shorter fiction, with an eye to such gems as "La Sentinelle" (another Ditmar and Aurealis winner, showcasing her ability to enchant the present with history) and the chilling "The Revenant", (which makes one think that perhaps Mel got off easy in her encounters with the dead). But The Scarlet Rider is the point not only to begin or expand your appreciation of this author, but of an overlooked fragment of time.

 

©2018 Go to top