Midnight In New England

By Scott Thomas
Published by Down East Books; October, 2007
ISBN 0-89272-732-2 $15.95

A collection of tales of the strange and mysterious. Set in times when restless spirits may have roamed more freely, these eighteen elegantly spellbinding tales are nothing short of spine tingling.

A wonderful collection of stories set in good old New England. Spanning many decades from the 18th Century, this collection of short, and they are short stories in the main, are chillingly vibrant. Evoking the atmospheric background of this still relatively new and colonised country, full of it’s own mysteries and dangers that stand side by side with the less supernatural discoveries the fledgling colonists are making.

They’re eerie for the most part, and thought provoking with an intensity that commands you to turn the page and wonder at the events as they unfold.

The brevity of the majority of the stories is not though a disappointment. Scott Thomas really gets under the skin of the tragic and haunted inhabitants of this state and the unfortunate towns therein. Thomas goes straight in with his vibrant and enthralling prose. Not a wasted word or nuance in this collection, that succeeded on several occasions in taking this reviewers breath away, and on others, going back to re-read what had already passed across my eyes to actually confirm what I had read, and digest the richness and splendour of the horror in front of me.

Subtle at times, yes. Gripping, without a doubt. A wonderful piece of work that moves through history at a pace, confounding and startling you as you make your way through this twisted little world that Thomas has homed in upon and extracted the mystery and horror lying just beneath the surface of that world.

Scott really transports you back in time with the vivid settings he lays out before your eyes, and characters whose complexity and at times naivete twist and turn as the events impacting upon their lives take strange and dark shape around them. He grasps the period in question with skill, weaving in the subtle nuances of the actual colloquialisms, atmosphere, dialects, phrases and background of the time with sheer eloquence. You could imagine his characters actually existing, living and breathing back in those halcyon days of the founding fathers. A whole new country to be built, and there behind that, these dark and malevolent spirits and creatures determined to bring down the fabric of this sparkling time for their own grim satisfaction.

Some can write historical horror fiction, some can’t. This is not a problem for Thomas as his characters weave their ways through the strange and macabre path he has paved for the inhabitants of his fiction with ease.

Not by any stretch of the imagination are any of these tales gory or gruesome. They rely on the readers own imagination to visualise and digest the terrible occurrences that snake their way into your psyche and chill your bones. And chill you they will.

What Washington Irving did for New York State over 150 years ago, Scott Thomas has refined and surpassed, bringing the genre of vintage horror fiction well and truly into the 21st century and beyond.

– Reviewed by Kevin Etheridge

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~ by darkdiscoveries on June 24, 2009.

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