Nocturnes by John Connolly. Review by Lisa Schussler
This collection of supernatural stories is a superb addition to the library of any horror fan. The stories within feature demons, lost children, heartbroken lovers, and monsters from the depths of the earth and the soul. These are tales of love, revenge, and evil.
John Connolly's writing evokes the voices of horror masters such as M.R. James, Edgar Allan Poe and—especially—H.P. Lovecraft. The collection comprises thirteen short stories sandwiched between two novellas. In "The Cancer Cowboy Rides" Connolly gives new meaning to "metastasis". In "The Erlking" he warns us about a monster parents forget to tell their children about. In one of my favorite stories, "Some Children Wander by Mistake", Connolly explains where circus clowns come from. "Deep Dark Green" and "The Shifting of the Sands" are, perhaps, the stories most reminiscent of Lovecraft. Writers seeking to beat the block would be wise to read "The Inkpot Monkey" and heed the warning therein. The only story I found rather weak was "The Wakeford Abyss".
As a seasoned reader of horror, I find it difficult to be frightened by fiction. After finishing Nocturnes, I can honestly say that a few of the stories contained a creepiness that still remains with me. Like the horror classics, the imagery is strong without resorting to excessive gore for a reaction. The stories create dread, rather than revulsion. If you're not prone to nightmares, this is a great book to read in bed by flickering candlelight. Otherwise, reading during daytime is a better idea.
Lisa Schussler is a medical scientist, long-time reader, and horror fan. She has entered several fiction writing contests and is currently moderator of the Horror Forum on the Bestsellers & Literature online community.