Lisa Morton, Editor
Trade Paper, 257 pages, $15.95
Review by Sheila Merritt
How often the word “original” is employed to describe an anthology. It generally means that the stories are new; haven’t been published before. Yet, another definition of the word pertains to something that is “fresh” or “unusual.” In Midnight Walk: Fourteen Original Tales of Terror and Suspense, editor Lisa Morton effectively covers the multiple usages of the term “original.” The stories in this volume are of very high caliber, and also, importantly, are not the standard stuff of themed anthologies.
Chilling, compelling, and novel in their telling; the “theme” of this collection is simply the background of its writers: All are from Western or Midwestern America. Some set their tales on their home turf, but several go far afield; to Africa, where zombies and Zulus do battle; Hong Kong, where a 19th century upper class British lady faces off a vampire; India, a country that makes an American discover that nothing is quite what it seems. Whether in an exotic locale or firmly grounded in native soil, the writers featured in the compilation expertly convey the emotions of fear, revelation, and outright horror.
In “Late Check-In” by Vince Churchill, for example, there is the horror of the weird hotel: “Room number 9 was darker than the hallway. There were no shadows or any traces of gloom. It was nothing less than hell-pit black. When the door was half open the darkness inside began to force its way into the hall. Shapeless at first, the black entity molded itself into a hand. And then it made another. And another. And another. A mob of hands, some as small as a child’s and some as large as an ape’s, reached and clutched, stretching from beneath shadows that might have been tar. All reaching, reaching out to me.”
Lisa Majewski’s story, “Inside Out,” details the ugly comeuppance of a vain male model. The self absorbed, cruel protagonist is on his way to superstardom. Superficial and sadistic, he makes a critical error in judgment. This excellently paced and nuanced tale’s last two lines are exquisitely haunting.
Halloween gets an eerie and atmospheric treatment in Richard Grove’s “Silver Needle.” Using folklore, Grove delivers a lyrical uneasiness to a trick or treat tale. The supernatural and destiny mingle and merge beautifully.
Midnight Walk is a cornucopia of wonderful works. Editor Morton deserves great praise for her choices in this book; the quality of the stories is exceptional. The writers have unique voices that echo in the mind long after each tale is told.