The queen of the short story, Joyce Carol Oates brings to life four bleak, passionate characters in their respective short stories. Each is painted beautifully, each is fully realised and each reads real. Her characterisation should be studied; it’s a masterclass in creating personalities that you can empathise with and hate; love and loathe; understand and judge with knowledge; and, ultimately, relate to. In Evil Eye, these four long short stories/short novellas, may not have the most interesting plots, but they have some of the most interesting characters in that you will come across in short fiction. My favourite was “The Execution”, concerning a spoilt rich kid on a Ritalin binge planning to kill his parents. It’s not so much dark as sombre and drab. The mood is rainy, not thunder and lightning. It’s a picture painted with miserable calm and it remains with you.