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Is that a rendition of Uncle Stevie on the cover Another Short Story collection, with an introduction and praises by Stephen King I did enjoy it, although I found someHorror able than others The Shapes of Midnight by Joseph Payne BrennanI went into this book blind I did not know who the author was, or when the book was written, only that the cover looked interesting and it was in one of my favorite genres the horror anthology I am very glad that I did, because it was like some kind of mirror into my own reading history.In the afterword, there is a quote from Stephen King that calls Brennan one of the most effective writers in the horror genre and I have to agree Not because of the actual chills in the stories honestly, I didn t find that many but because of the obvious influence he had on the genre, particularly Stephen King himself Reading the book, unaware of the history behind it, I felt myself thinking This would have been perfect for Weird Talesthan once I was, of course, 100% right Brennan wrote hundreds of stories for that classic magazine I also found myself thinking, This guy loved him some Stephen King It turns out I had it backwards These stories are nothing all that unique to the experienced reader of horror, and the twists in them are not twists at all, today But this is because Brennan literally created many of them Of the stories in this collection, I found I liked The Pavillion best A story of murder, guilt, and revenge from beyond the grave, I found myself imagining it shot for shot in some early 80s horror anthology movie Creepshow, of course Disappearance is another proto King story Indeed, I can see direct influences of several King stories here the taciturn farmer with a secret, the missing family member, the grisly discovery They all seem buried deep in our horror conscience now, thanks to stories like this.As horror, honestly, there probably isn t much here for the modern fan, but as a glimpse into the roots of the genre this is a very interesting and still quite fun read.I d like to thank the publisher for the review copy Dover has reprinted 1980 s The Shapes of Midnight minus two stories.1 Diary of a Werewolf A recovering New York heroin addict moves to Juniper Hill on the advice of his doctor for a little rest and relaxtion After moving into Hemlock House, he begins to keep a diary of his experiences in town He feels a strong disdain for the locals, but feels strangely drawn to the old woods near his new dwelling, and begins to feel the compulsion to run around on all fours and to kill Soon he becomes convinced he is a werewolf, and begins to prey on the inhabitants of Juniper Hill, all while trying to learnabout his condition, real or imagined, and stay one step ahead of county lawman Sheriff Macelin and his men.2 The Corpse of Charlie Rull Homeless man Charlie Rull suffers a fatal heart attack and falls into a swampy pond Ordinarily, that would ve been the end of his story But fate, in the form of an accident at a nearby laboratory, had other ideas Drop by drop, radioactive liquids from the lab seep into the groundwater and contaminate the pond where Charlie s dead body floats The radioactive chemicals infuse every cell in his body and bring him back to life In unimaginable pain from the energy surging through him and filled with a burning hatred for all life, the newly misanthropic zombie proceeds to go on a killing spree through the nearby town of Newbridge.3 The Pavilion Niles Glendon has a problem It isn t that he murdered his best friend Kurt Resinger over a matter of a loan refused and buried the corpse under the pavilion down by the beach It s the fact recent storms have been disturbing the beach, and may uncover Kurt s corpse Time to move it Unfortunately, when Niles gets to where he could ve sworn he d buried Kurt, the body isn t there Is it too late Has Kurt been found Perhaps Kurt wasn t as dead as Niles thought he was Or perhaps something evensinister is afoot Either way, Niles is about to get a lotthan he bargained for when he obsessively goes digging around under the pavilion in a desperate attempt to locate the body if he can.4 House of Memory Tara Sutter has been perpetually ill ever since her family moved out of her childhood home and the new owners of the property tore the house down, a fact Tara refuses to accept When family friends come over for an overnight get together, Tara mysterious vanishes from the party, and her family and friends fear she may have wandered off to go visit the old house, where nothing but an empty cellar hole remains Desperate to prevent her from falling in, they rush out to retrieve her, but none of them are prepared for what they ll witness when they eventually catch up to Tara at the old Sutter property5 The Willow Platform While exploring the ruins of the old Trobish house, Juniper Hill resident Henry Crotell found an old and a ring with a flat black stone hidden in an old lockbox The untitled book is written entirely in Latin, prompting Henry to start trying to learn the dead language Postmaster Dave Baines from The Mail for Juniper Hill and his writer friend become concerned about Henry s obsession with the ancient book when schoolteacher Ms Winnis, who got a look at its contents, reports that it was written by someone pretending to be a sorcerer And when the book directs Henry to begin building a platform out of willow saplings for an unknown purpose, Baines and the rest of the town begin worrying that perhaps the author wasn t pretending, and that Henry might be getting in way over his head6 Who Was He A man recovering from heart surgery refuses a haircut from the hospital barber Not long after, another patient at the hospital dies of fright The next day, the same barber returns, and the protagonist again turns down his offer of a haircut after which the barber departs and a second patient dies under mysterious circumstances The protagonist begins to suspect that the barber is a serial killer, but the facts are even stranger than that once he gets the whole story from the hospital security guard7 Disappearance Dan Mellmer disappeared years ago, survived by his identical twin brother Russell Sheriff Kellington and his deputy always suspected foul play, as there d always been an element of bad blood between the Mellmer twins But it s only after Russell Mellmer dies that the police learn the awful truth.8 The Horror at Chilton Castle A scientist visiting Chilton Castle in Ireland is invited to witness the secret Rite of Passage which Frederick Chilton Payne must undergo following the death of his father Robert, the Thirteenth Earl of Chilton.9 The Impulse to Kill A man starts getting urges to commit murder, and begins deliberately luring criminals to his house in order to kill them, justifying it to the authorities as self defense But can he keep it up 10 The House on Hazel Street A man starts becoming weirdly obsessed with the Old, Dark House he passes by every day One day, the front door opens and the owner, an elderly man named Jonathan Sellerby, invites him in.There were originally twelve stories in this collection back when it was first published in 1980 Canavan s Back Yard and Slime, the third and twelfth stories, respectively, have been omitted for reasons unknown Nearest I can figure is Dover considered them redundant since they re also in Nine Horrors and a Dream, another Joseph Payne Brennan short story collection which they reprinted last month, but I would ve preferred that The Shapes of Midnight be republished as is Without Canavan s Back Yard and Slime especially the latter , the collection ends on a whimper with the underwhelming The House on Hazel Street, which has always been my least favorite of the stories between the two collections.Also absent is the original 80s introduction from Stephen King I guess Dover couldn t or wouldn t get permission from King or whoever to republish that My hope with this edition of The Shapes of Midnight was that it d replace the 80s version of the book, which commands high prices and, including Canavan s Back Yard and Slime, a much better assortment of stories vs the earlier Nine Horrors and a Dream By omitting these two stories, Dover s edition of The Shapes of Midnight is not a replacement at all, but effectively a forced companion piece to their reprint of Nine Horrors and a Dream, as opposed to both books being able to stand on their own Before, it felt like you could get either or Now, it feels like you have to get both, and, redundant or not, The Shapes of Midnight feels incomplete without Canavan s Back Yard and Slime. I received an ARC of this book thanks to Net Galley and publisher Dover Publications in exchange for an honest review.Horror anthologies can be so hit or miss for me I tend to avoid collections published by one author unless I know their work because I have specific tastes for horror and I dislike the ambiguous short stories the genre often results in I made an exception for The Shapes of Midnight and I am so glad I did This is a VERY short collection 100 pages of horror stories which are mostly basic in concept but are executed really well The first two were my least favourite and the most straightforward of the bunch but it was all uphill from there If you could plot my ratings of these on a graph, it would almost be a perfect bell curve because I felt the middle stories were definitely the strongest My Kindle ARC was sadly missing two stories Canavan s Back Yard and Slime which might also be why it felt so short to me.No of stories 10 12 in actual collection Diary of a Werewolf What it says on the tin This was definitely one the weaker ones It wasn t bad but it was very straightforward and there were no surprises or depth to it.The Corpse of Charlie Rull A man dies in a radioactive river and comes back to life Slightly better than the one above because I couldn t tell where it was going and it was less of a standard plot I also loved the way this opened, it had a fantastic style to it.The Pavilion A very creepy story about a man who murders his friend and returns to check if the body has been dislodged by the sea This grabbed my attention and kept me excited to see what was going to happen next.House of Memory A different type of horror story to most and a refreshing addition to the collection A woman is forced out of her childhood home and refuses to accept it has been demolished, much to the confusion of her family Another very decent and enjoyable one.The Willow Platform A man in a small town finds an evil demon book The writing style of this was very entertaining but I wasn t a fan of the story topic itself, which is probably just personal preference.Who Was He A man in hospital keeps getting visits from a hospital barber This was hands down my favourite of the whole bunch I read it late at night and was genuinely very scared by it.Disappearance Another very strong story about a man whose brother has gone missing and the narrator suspects he killed him The twist of this was very easy to guess but it was still entertaining and possibly my second favourite.The Horror at Chilton Castle A man lives near a castle which has a secret sealed room, the contents of which are only shown to the heirs of Earls This started off strong but the actual contents of the room turned it into not my type of horror story It was still one of the best and definitely had some good horror moments.The Impulse to Kill A man who has the urge to kill devises a way to do so without being arrested for it This is a neat enough idea for a story and it was well written but it suffers from being very linear and not having a lot beyond the basic concept.The House on Hazel Street Upon entering a house, a man realises he has no memory of why he is there The occupant of the house has a specific request of him This story has one of theunique concepts in the anthology and it was good but not one of my absolute favourites.I debated between 3.5 and 4 stars for a while but I felt 4 stars was right since I enjoyed almost every story in here and the writing style was consistently strong throughout At points Brennan has almost a Lemony Snicket esque narration style and this was very enjoyable when it cropped up This collection is very short in the form I received but that was minus two stories so I decided to not lower the rating due to that Overall, this was a wonderful horror anthology and I would definitely want to readby this author.Overall Rating 4 5 stars Stay Back The Shadow Places Shelter Secrets That Are Best Left Undisturbed Hear Me Or Don T For There Are Those Obsessed With Uncovering The Witcheries That Fester In Man S Foul Heart There Are Those Who Would Invoke The Awful Powers That Yet Remain In Earth S Cursed Places Joseph Payne Brenna Is Such A One This Is His Book Dare You Make It Yours Back Cover Copy Introduction By Stephen KingContents Diary Of A Werewolf The Corpse Of Charlie Rull Canavan S Back Yard The Pavilion House Of Memory The Willow Platform Who Was He DisappearanceThe Horror At Chilton CastleThe Impulse To KillThe House On Hazel StreetSlime The Shapes of Midnight is a horror collection by Joseph Payne Brennan originally released in 1980, to be re released this year by Dover Publications The Dover version collects ten of his best tales, which range from explorations of madness Diary of a Werewolf , The Impulse to Kill , to the shifting nature of time House of Memory , The House on Hazel Street.Easily readable in a single sitting, this collection is sufficiently disturbing, albeit leaning a bit towards prose and structure somewhatgeared to the younger horror reader The influences are right up front as well for horror fans the Lovecraftian nature of The Willow Platform and The Horror at Chilton Castle , Poe style unreliable narrators in Diary of a Werewolf and The Impulse to Kill , even an appearance of an Algernon Blackwood esque Wendigo Regardless, this is a fun way to spend a couple of hours and get a quick fix of horror As a postscript, it would appear the reprint leaves out two stories from the original collection, Slime and Canavan s Back Yard , which are included in Dover s reprint of Nine Horrors and a Dream I was given a copy of this book by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review My thanks to Dover Publications. This collection of short horror stories by Joseph Payne Brennan would have had a lothistorical significance if it had included all of the book s original stories Instead, the publisher opted to remove two of them, thereby making it an incomplete set Aside from that, Brennan s work provides an interesting time capsule of the horror writing style of the late 70s early 80s Stephen King once raved about this book, which actually seems really odd now since Brennan continuously broke King s rules for writing For instance in one sentence, Brennan somehow managed to cram three adverbs, passive voice, and showing instead of telling These qualities, combined with a bit of casual racism and the general vibe of telling scary stories around a campfire, really dates the book It was an interesting read as a horror time capsule, but it lacks the compelling, literary nature of the genre s classics It also falls short in the gore department, meaning it doesn t quite connect with either of the two main types of horror readers Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for providing a copy of this book This review contains my honest, unbiased opinion. Looking for scary reads this October Then check out The Shapes of Midnight by Joseph Payne Brennan The Impulse To Kill shows how a wealthy man with too much free time turns to murder and reminds me of Stephen Paddock and the very real recent horror of the Las Vegas Shooting In both, the men are likable, respected, have everything they could want and yet harbor a dark side that burns with the desire to kill Another favorite is Slime a 50 s creature feature blob type story that will having you running towards the light and away from a hideous black shape moving in the dark So enjoy a collection of horror stories so well written that I read this book in two days. The Shapes of Midnight have some interesting and good stories I would buy this book as a gift for friends. Joseph Payne Brennan is a sadly underrated and overlooked horror author I discovered him through the comments section of Liz Kingsley s website And You Call Yourself a Scientist in the comments for her review of The Blob, someone asked if she d read a story called Slime by this guy Joseph Payne Brennan I forget how the conversation flowed, but I distinctly recall someone mentioning a scene where a character holds off the title creature with nothing but a flashlight I d been aware of the eco horror novel Slime by William Essex, but I d never heard of THIS Slime by this guy Brennan I was intrigued.A quick Google search turned up a video on YouTube where a certain Edward E French actually did a reading of the story Between French s excellent voice at times, he sounds a little like Vincent Price and the story itself, I fell hopelessly in love with Slime And its author I had to findof his stuff Fortunately, French had also done readings of The Corpse of Charlie Rull and Diary of a Werewolf I loved them, too I wanted , so it was off to eBay, where I found this book for a littlethan I would ve liked to have paid, but got it anyway I got not only Slime, The Corpse of Charlie Rull and Diary of a Werewolf in this volume, but several other stories, and a 1980 introduction by Stephen King to boot Besides those three stories, I think my favorite tales in The Shapes of Midnight are The Pavilion it s very EC Comics ish , Who Was He a good chiller with an open ending and The Willow Platform a very Lovecraftian story Disappearance is pretty good, too, as is the excellent and also Lovecraftian The Horror at Chilton Castle I m glad Dover will be reprinting this and Nine Horrors and Dream, although I m a little annoyed their reprint of The Shapes of Midnight will apparently be leaving out Slime and Canavan s Back Yard It s probably because they re also in Nine Horrors and a Dream and they don t want any repeats, but still I d prefer those stories be in the reprints of both books Oh well If you can live without Slime and Canavan s Back Yard and the 1980s Stephen King introduction, definitely get Dover s reprint if you absolutely must have those two stories and King s introduction, though, be prepared to pay upwards of 60 for the original 1980 edition of the book But whichever version you get and however much you spend on it, trust me, it s worth it.