“In the Rhythm of Horror – The Abyss of Dances” is a collection of six fantasy stories by young Croatian authors. The stories were chosen via a competition that Mala zvona held in 2020, after which authors Josip Čekolj, Mateja Pavlic, Marin Pelaić, Ines Vajzović, Martina Vidaić and Orin Ivan Vrkaš were chosen. Except for the characteristic fantastical elements of the unexpected and wondrous, the motive of dance also connects the stories – a dance of the dead and the arisen, a dance of half-humans and half-animals in the moonlight, an oriental dance of wraiths in black capes. These obnoxious dancers contribute to an uneasy atmosphere but at the same time, they create an aura of mystical beauty. Each story is illustrated with a black and white piece by Klara Rusan Klarxy – her work masterly depicts the merge of the real and the otherworldly, and makes a world that might seem dark and bizarre mysteriously alluring.
In this short novel Michael Ende takes us for a journey across Europe, Asia, Africa, all the way to Hindukush. The story’s protagonist, Cyril Abercomby is an English aristocrat and the son of a 19th century diplomat. In his childhood he follows his father on diplomatic missions and when the father dies, Cyril inherits the family fortune and continues wandering across the globe in a pointless spleen. Although he had been enjoying the luxury of grand hotels and high society ever since his earliest childhood, Cyril is haunted for life by a feeling of non-belonging, of homelessness. But then one day, he finds his home – on a painting. Suddenly his voyages become purposeful: he must find the place depicted on the canvas, no matter the costs. This quest leads him to different atrocities and a final, suicidal, mission: neither dead, nor alive, Cyril finds his home in the space of his own imagination grafted upon a real geographical place. Michael Ende thus develops a dark, but lyrical story on alienation, the power of imagination and the workings of art. His text has been illustrated by the painter Dominik Vuković who visually represented the dark contours of this story that revolves around a painting.