Tales From The Graveyard edited by Peter Sutton and Eric Nash
I would like to thank the editor Peter Sutton for a copy of this anthology in exchange for a fair and honest review
Publisher – Far Horizons
Price – £12.00 paperback£2.21 Kindle eBook
Published – Out Now
Welcome to the Graveyard - Where the worlds of the living and the dead overlap. The sigh of troubled spirits drifts between choked headstones. AS the sun sets, follow the winding path between the yew trees to the place where lost souls gather, and settle in for a night of tales both disturbing and uplifting…
Graveyards are really unusual places to visit. In Liverpool around our Anglican Cathedral there is a one below the rocky base surrounding it with a sloping corridor lined with tombstones that have fallen over and when you reach it an inky pool I am definitely not going to drink out of. By the university you can wander past a pyramid where a gambler was buried in his chair holding a hand of cards ready to play with the devil (not joking!) and where I used to live in a little church you can find William Gladstone’s tomb (yes one of my city’s people). They’re sobering reminders that death happens but also a history of the places we live and visit. Sometimes beautiful and often a place I really don’t want to visit at night. In this collection Peter Sutton and Eric Nash have assembled various authors from the North Bristol Writers Anthology to play around with the concept of a graveyard. A really interesting mix of genres and styles.
In this collection I enjoyed
Three Billion Heartbeats Give or Take by Kevlin Henney – A surprising trip into noir crim starts the collection with a returned soldier we find lying in an open grave holding the body of a dead woman and hiding from their assailant. It’s bleak, blood and gory as old family secrets crash together into a stormy finale. I really enjoyed how the setting rather than horror becomes the place for a violent last stand but clearly signalling death for someone is a coming.
Needle and Thread by Clare Dornan – again more a crime tale but certainly one for shivers this is a short tale where a man watches a true crime author talk about a notorious serial killer who to escape set their home (and family) on fire. Our narrator is both calm, matter of fact and terrifying as they decide who they reallllllly want to talk to about this subject.
Gravewatcher by Chrissey Harrison – This was one of my favourites in the collection. Carina has been assigned the magical role of guarding the spirits of a Graveyard into which the spirit of Victor a former newlywed has now arrived confused. Carina aids people to move on but also protect it from more darker powers after the souls that reside there. More an urban/paranormal fantasy with a nice line in action and characters stepping up for a final fight but I really liked how all the wider worldbuilding for spirits, magic and their enemies was set up quite organically around a single location.
Work Experience by Jon Charles – Another of my favourites. A young teenager is writing each day of their work experience helping out in the grounds of a graveyard. It captures the feel of those beloved (sigh) school reports but the reader being perhaps a little more experienced than the narrator may spot his new friend Old Jock sounds…not quite right. Tension slowly builds up as something dangerous lurks ever closer. Manages to scare without going for the standard horror style.
Once the Trees by Grace Palmer – A man walks his dog in the graveyard. He even looks after the grounds and plants but as the tale is told we see outward appearances can be deceptive and this graveyard will soon have some visitors out for revenge. I loved the slow reveal that our narrator is not someone we can trust and how our sympathies alter quite quickly.
Unwelcome by Amanda Staples – a more traditional ghost story of a new buyer of a house in a village with secrets. A lovely pet cemetery is in the garden…watching our narrator being blind to the strange events that unfold is both a classical take but by the end when things reach a crescendo gripping in so many senses of the word…
Graveyard Shift by Jay Millington – this takes a novel spin on the term where a man wakes up after some undisclosed event wrapped up to work in a meat factory with other workers under a cruel boss. Endless repetition of tasks and signs our narrator isn’t quite the person he was before making this a very haunting piece. Nasty twisted and excellently delivered.
Abra-Cadaver by Maria Herring – spirits assemble in a graveyard to defend it from property developers. Another of my favourites where our quite pleasant, humorous narrator leads us slowly into a tale of revenge, gore and mass murder. The way this changes from what you think the story is going to be is done beautifully (and horrifically). You will still be thinking whose side you were on after you finish.
There are other tales of revenge, post-apocalyptic horror and loss but I really enjoyed the mix of tales and formats. It’s not a pure horror collection but as you’d expect for the format that’s where many choices end up moving towards and as we know horror itself is quite a wide genre of tales. As summer ends and the nights draw in this would a be good collection to settle back at night and enjoy while ensuring you don’t go off that winding path past the tombs…