Midnight Echo Issue 4
Lee Battersby, Editor
Australian Horror Writers Association
Magazine, 100 pages, $13.00
Review by Sheila M. Merritt

Does Australian horror fiction uniquely differ from its American or European counterparts? In the fourth issue of Midnight Echo, The Magazine of the Australian Horror Writers Association, the question arises in an interview. The answer at once seems simplistic: Yes, because of the isolation factor. The large areas of uninhabited land; tremendous urban sprawl; and sparsely populated terrain; can create a sense of vulnerability and societal remoteness. Those elements exist in the dozen short stories compiled in the magazine, but the variety reflected in the tales negates the notion that they speak with an Antipodean “voice,” or even the much emulated accent. There is a pleasing diversity in each narrative’s approach to terror; no restrictions of period or culture. And (gasp) not all those contributing come from down under.

The cultural expansiveness of the journal extends to its eight artists, and four interviews. Best selling American author Charlaine Harris is queried about success; her thoughts on the TV series True Blood, based on her novels; the day to day activities she engages in; how spirituality is entangled in what she writes. An enlightening exchange with verbally glib artist Vincent Castiglia, whose studio is in Manhattan, articulates the design and motivation behind his work. He cites the influences of H.R. Giger and Salvador Dali, and gives insights into the realm of the visual. Symbolism and specific choices in theme and style are well discussed. The Q&A with “two Aussie heavyweights,” Angela Challis and Dr. Marty Young, regarding their ambitious anthology Macabre, provides an illuminating look at the history and future of Australian horror writing. The collection encompasses more than 170 years of the continent’s dark fiction, extending “from the first ever published ghost story to original tales of terror by some of today’s best writers.” The periodical also contains poetry, and “Sinister Reads,” which describes current works by AHWA members.

Midnight Echo is currently printed twice a year, with every issue having a different set of editors. Keeping it fresh and interesting appears to be the intent of the publication. Based on Issue 4, the goal is achieved.

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