Around three months ago, I saw a notice of the upcoming anthology, Midnight in the Graveyard, from Silver Shamrock Press. The book featured a highly talented group of contemporary horror authors, including Kealan Patrick Burke, Elizabeth Massie, Chad Lutzke, Catherine Cavendish, and many others. I marked it on my calendar and began counting the days till its release. Suffice it to say I was honored and excited when Silver Shamrock offered me an electronic ARC of the book. I received it and immediately plunged into the tales within.
I was not disappointed. There’s not a single clunker in the book, often a rare feat for an anthology. After finishing the book, I can honestly say I read every single story and enjoyed them all. Hands down, this is one of the best anthologies of short horror fiction I’ve ever read.
The largest chunk of stories here are what spring to mind when one thinks of the horror genre: tales delving into the realm of fear and terror. One of my favorites of these was Russian Dollhouse by Jason Parent. Remind me never to go into a haunted house attraction that by all rights, shouldn’t be there. Give it a read and see if it gives you the chills as it did me. Last Call at the Sudden Death Saloon by Allan Leverone was another freaky tale that reminded me of why I generally don’t go poking around small towns where I’m a complete stranger.
A smaller group of the stories reminded me of EC Comics and Tales From The Crypt. I could almost hear the Cryptkeeper chortling in fiendish glee at the climax of The Glimmer Girls by Kenneth McKinley and Swamp Vengeance by Brian Moreland. Those two tales, along with Cool for Cats by William Meikle and Bettor’s Edge by Tim Meyer were some of my favorite of the anthology, hands down. I’ve always been partial to those types of stories, with their fiendishly twisted sense of justice meted out to those who’ve wronged others.
A few of the selections are hauntingly sad tales that will tug at the reader’s heartstrings. Join My Club by Somer Canon, The Putpocket by Alan M. Clark, and Euphemia Christie by Catherine Cavendish will provoke an emotional response on the reader’s part. Of course, none of them are as hard-hitting as Tug O’War by Chad Lutzke. For those readers who aren’t prone to tearing up during powerful emotional moments, a box of Kleenex will need to be on hand. When I finished reading Lutzke’s story, I had to put the book down and take a break.
There’s cosmic horror for fans of that sub-genre. Holes in the Fabric by Todd Keisling and The Graveyard by Lee Mountford deliver some dreadful eldritch monstrosities waiting to devour the souls of those unlucky enough to fall within their grasp. Those who like horror on the grotesque side will enjoy Cemetery Man by John Everson. That type of horror is generally not something I like to read. Still, Everson displays some great writing chops in his tale, and fans who like their horror on the hardcore side will like Cemetery Man.
One story in particular that really stood out for me was New Blood, Old Skin by Glenn Rolfe. Though creepy in part, it’s more about the inspiration that drives a horror writer than a foray into the realm of fear. It was the first story I’ve read by Glenn Rolfe, and I’m glad I got introduced to his work. It was riveting. I’m definitely going to read more.
Midnight in the Graveyard brings in some major star power in the person of Robert R. McCammon. I’ve been a fan of his work ever since I read The Wolf’s Hour, back in the 80s. I looked forward to reading his new tale, Haunted World, with great anticipation. I was not disappointed. Haunted World leads the reader through a reality where Heaven and Hell have both run out of room, forcing a flood of spirits back down to Earth. The reader can imagine the hijinks that ensue.
Portrait, the last tale of the anthology, is also the most powerful. The previous entries go from fear to sadness to disgust to fiendish glee, but when the reader gets to Portrait by Kealan Patrick Burke, well…All I can say is there are stories that once you get a sense of what’s happening, you don’t really want to look any more but you just can’t help it. You have to keep looking and then you find yourself at the end, at the dreadfully glorious finale where you’re left feeling like you’ve been punched in the gut really hard and you can’t breathe. Portrait was that good. It was a fitting end to one of the best anthologies I’ve come across.
Midnight in the Graveyard will be released on October 15, 2019. If you enjoy horror, if you love reading a good spooky story, you’ll absolutely want to add this book to your collection. This is the first anthology from Silver Shamrock Press, and they’re charging out of the gates hard. I look forward to their next offering. Silver Shamrock is a press to keep an eye on.
I was provided an advance reading copy of Midnight in the Graveyard, courtesy of Silver Shamrock Press. I received no monies or any other form of compensation for writing this review, and the opinions stated herein are my own.