cover image Mrs. Midnight and Other Stories

Mrs. Midnight and Other Stories

Reggie Oliver. Tartarus, $50 (392p) ISBN 978-1-905784-39-4

Old-fashioned horrors haunt contemporary characters in the 13 skillfully wrought tales that make up this exceptional collection of weird fiction. In the title story, the efforts of urban preservationists to save a crumbling old theater stir up the ravenous ghost of a 19th-century performer whose bizarre act involved zoophagy (the eating of organs from living animals). "A Piece of Elsewhere" is narrated by a young boy who discovers, much to the dismay of the relative whose house he stays at, that he is psychically sensitive to the spirit of someone murdered on its premises. In "The Mortlake Manuscript," a tale of antiquarian horror, a modern scholar uncovers a lost manuscript of Elizabethan occultist John Dee and the legacy of its unholy influence. Though Oliver (The Dracula Papers) keeps his horrors largely on the periphery, he invests them with a sense of menace so powerful that it inevitably overwhelms events and characters in the stories. Readers who like their horrors subtle but unsettling will find this volume much to their liking. (Nov.)