Author: Stephen Graham Jones
In: Haunted Nights (Lisa Morton & Ellen Datlow)
Rating Out of 5: 4.5 (Amazing, but not quite perfect)
My Bookshelves: Dark fantasy, Family, Horror
Dates read: 15th November 2019
Format: Short story
5th sentence, 74th page: It wouldn’t be a lost hunter, either, unless that hunter was really lost; rifle season had closed ten days earlier.
A little over a year ago he lost his wife. On a pilgrimage to the mountains that took her life, he loses both of his children. But the way in which he loses them will only happen on a dark Halloween night…
One of my biggest rants around Halloween is the fact that a) we’re not American. And b) most people don’t understand the roots of the festival. This short story does address those roots. After all, Halloween (or All Hallows Eve) is the night of the year in which the barriers between worlds fall. Most of the stories I read that feature this ideal are kind of sweet – definitely filled with hope and connections with the past… this isn’t such a nice story, but I love that it connects the spirit world with the living one.
The narrative voice of this story is absolutely amazing. It is funny, witty and not one that I’m likely to forget at any time soon. It took me a little while to realise exactly what was happening… but once I realised that the man who is telling the story was trying to explain what happened to a cop. It just became brilliant. Although, once you finish it, the cheer, hope and good humour with which this story is told – that becomes a little bit creepy… after all, he’s recounting the death of his wife and the loss of his children.
There are many tales of the power of a mother’s love. Normally I find them kind of sweet and cheerful. Not so much when that love means a weird zombie coming back from the dead, visiting her children and just generally wreaking havoc on the world. Talk about a horror story!