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Review by
Garrett Peck
by Mort Castle

Darktales Publications
175 pp. trade paperback
ISBN: 0-9672029-9-X

Champions of horror like myself believe the genre is uniquely situated to examine a wide range of psychological and sociological conditions prevalent in the human species. Mort Castle's collection MOON ON THE WATER could be used as "Example A" in building the case for that proposition.

The 21 tales between these covers exhibit the author's love of word play. Castle experiments with many different ways a story can be told. He shows himself equally adept at third person or the trickier first person narrative techniques. He also displays a strong understanding of the difference between short-short and longer storytelling. He seems comfortable working with straightforward prose and more experimental, stream of consciousness styles. He embraces the wealth of possibilities short fiction represents. An aspiring horror author could learn as much by Castle's examples in this collection as he could from the HWA Handbook Writing Horror that Castle edited.

You will find no creaky old icons or overdone monsters lurking in this book. Castle's approach to horror is far more serious than that. The terrors he drags into the light come from the darker recesses of our own minds. He has a tragedian's eye for the foibles of the human condition. He matter-of-factly skewers our emotional excesses and sociological conditioning. Whether the subject is greed, the need to love and be loved, racism, parenting or macrocosmic economics, Castle follows his theme to its logical extreme.

I don't intend to say anything about the individual stories. These are yours to discover for yourself. Many of them are clearly genre horror, others are more mainstream, but in every case Castle illuminates them with the black light of his perceptions and more than a few glimpses of his wicked wit.

With each new release it's becoming more and more obvious that any book under the Darktales Publications imprint should go immediately on the serious horror fan's "must read" list. In less than two years this company's name has come to be a guarantee of the finest horror fiction available. Books like MOON ON THE WATER are the reason why.

Four Book Wyrms


This review copyright 2000 E.C.McMullen Jr.

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