I thoroughly enjoy short stories. Always have. There's just something
about an author creating a quick-and-nasty reading experience, and
marveling over how he or she packed so much story into such a small
space. This is why I'm drawn to collections and anthologies: they
provide the reader with a diverse palette of stories to peruse. That
being said, there are usually highs and lows in every collection or
anthology. Not every story can be good, after all...
...or can they?
There are rare cases of seemingly perfect collections. Some of
my favorites include the early collections of Stephen King, High
Cotton by Joe Lansdale, Moonchasers and Others by Ed Gorman,
the entertaining and informative Mr. Fox and Other Feral Tales by
Norman Partridge, and the stunning debut collection by Kealan Patrick
Burke, The Number 121 to Pennsylvania. These books start strong
and never let up, offering all manner of stories and nailing
each-and-every one of them.
And now, I'm adding Ron Kelly's Midnight Grinding and Other Twilight
Terrors to the list.
Ron showcases his talent by not only giving us the requisite horror and
scares, but also incorporating other themes as well. One of the most
touching stories in the collection is “Dust Devils”, in
which a lonely girl finds warmth and passion in the most unlikely of
places. Stories like “Bookmarks” and
“Tyrophex-14” come across as cautionary tales, presenting
“what-if” scenarios that are quite frightening in nature.
“The Winds Within” and “Romicide”, two of my
favorites from the collection, are police procedurals involving
detectives Taylor and Lowery, and the strange cases they become involved
in (think X-Files crossed with Repairman Jack, and you've got Taylor and
Lowery). Now that Ron is publishing new material, I sincerely hope he
returns to these two characters with some new short stories (or maybe
something longer?). And still others -- such as “Oh, Sordid
Shame!”, “Depravity Road”, and to some degree,
“Midnight Grinding” – are presented as “historical
fiction”, fictional retellings of actual events. These stories
and more are examples of Ron's amazing ability to blend other genres
into his horror writing, which provide a nice change of pace throughout.
Of course, if you're only in it for the blood and guts, there's plenty
to go around. From snakes (“Miss Abigail's Delicate
Condition”) to spiders (“The Web of La Sanguinaire”);
from literal ghosts (“The Cistern”) to figurative ghosts
(“Impressions in Oak”); from vampires to werewolves
(“The Boxcar” and “Thinning the Herd”); and
literally anything and everything in between – this collection touches
upon every kind of horror imaginable. Some stories are horrifying in
their violence and brutality. Some will freeze your blood from the
simple fact they hit a little too close to home. Still others will have
you smiling (and feeling a little guilty about it). And some are just
plain weird or disgusting. But, the tales in Midnight Grinding
all have one thing in common: every one of the bunch is well-written,
wildly entertaining, and sure to have you on edge throughout.
I have absolutely no reservations about giving Midnight Grinding
a 10 out of 10 and telling you to plunk down your hard-earned dough to get a
copy. It's one of the best collections I've ever read, and there's no
doubt in my mind you'll enjoy it too. Both the $40 limited edition and
the $175 lettered edition are both available from