Dreadful Delineations
John Maclay

Delirium Books, Trade Paperback, 210 pgs, $16.95
Reviewed by – Steve Vernon

My wife Belinda spent the first dozen years of her working life as a trained chef. As such she has taught me an awful lot about what you need to put together a meal. Above all else, a chef needs a good sharp knife. Some good pots and a good fry pan and a good working source of heat. The basics.

John Maclay has the basics. Plot, tension, character – the man wields a wickedly sharp knife. His style will put you in mind of Matheson at his best, or Rod Serling’s Twilight Zone. The stories in Dreadful Delineations all have that feel of a reality that has slipped just a little off the beaten track. This is classic material. The stories would be at home in any major anthology. Put simply, John Maclay delivers a damn good read, every time.

Don’t believe me? Figure I’m just a gushing wanna-be hack of a reviewer? Take a look at the guy’s credentials. His work has appeared in Twilight Zone, Night Cry, 14 Vicious Valentines, Scare Care, Masques III, Stalkers, Night Screams, The Horror Show, Cemetery Dance, Borderlands III, Pulphouse, Weirdbook and many other markets and magazines. He started Borderlands. He started Masques. The guy has made his bones and he’s got the chops to prove it.

From the Frankenstein freaked-out fantasy of “A Younger Woman”; the sexual obsession of “The Final Order”; the wild-assed absurdity of “Good News for Hemorrhoid Sufferers”; to the niftily twisted “Tanning”; the political overtones of “Meat Men”; to the fine finale piece “Dark Stretch of Road” these tales entertain and terrify.

Some of the tales are a little dated and their EC-style dénouement is a little behind the times, but the craftsmanship of these stories more than makes up for the old school ambience that a lot of them share. I really enjoyed hunkering down over this collection and I’m putting it up on the shelf for re-reading.

I recommend you pick up a copy. I believe you’ll enjoy it.

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