John O’Neill’s gothic short stories, set in the Canadian Rockies, are haunted by the violence inherent in nature and humans. The mountains are majestic and impassive. The characters are surprising, bent, but also empathetic. Their survival is tenuous. A two-sister team of goth tour guides offers guided excursions up switchback mountain trails; a paroled convict thumbs his way into the life of a family driving west; and an animal pathologist, while performing a necropsy on a grizzly bear, has an unusual encounter with both technology and humanity.
Goth Girls of Banff is a superb collection, sharply written, with plot turns as consequence-laden as those on an iced-over mountain road.