Review copy provided by the author in exchange for an honest review
The stories that bookend At The Cemetery Gates are two of my favorite. In the first, A Dark and Desolate Recurrence, we meet Teddy and Margo who are in their car stuck in a snowbank. A kind stranger pulls them free and leaves before they can say thank you. The car is almost out of gas and not driveable, but they find a cabin nearby to spend the night. After a long night of strange occurrences they return to their car. What they find upon their return brings the story full circle with a surprise ending, and I loved the twist. In A Casket for My Mother, Craig has just returned home from a teaching job overseas. He had no internet connection in that part of the world. Now after returning home, checking his social media sites is his top priority. He learns a close friend’s mom as passed and there is a fundraiser for funeral expenses. After Craig discovers some strange news about his friend’s mom the movie Psycho comes to mind! Time’s Harbinger, the next story I really dug, was straight out of a twilight zone episode. Ross and his estranged father Gary travel to their old home town for Ross’ mother’s funeral. After they cross an old bridge time takes them on a trip they hadn’t planned for. This story has a great twist that I hadn’t expected, but very much enjoyed. A Tale of Palpable Violence is really a great story and has the feel of an urban legend. Sherry and Bram are making out in their car in a secluded location. A warning on the radio tells them a pair of killers are loose and everyone should remain indoors. The couple are pulled over and the officer tells them to head straight home because of the killers. Another excellent twist in this one! The story Passion’s Paroxysm really pulls you in and I loved the ride. Ben can’t get past the feeling that his wife is constantly cheating on him. She’s acted suspicious on several occasions but always has a plausible answer for the situation. Each time Ben accuses her and hears her explanations he feels guilty and buys her flowers to show his love. After her last explanation Ben decides to give her a unique and special bouquet that will make everything ok. What a great ending to a story I thought was going in a different direction. In a Late Blight we visit a small town where a few older residences are dying from strange symptoms. A local college student thinks he may be able to find the cause and a cure. Little does he know but the pathogen isn’t new and a cure isn’t needed. I always love a good conspiracy and I found it in this story. This story feels plausible and I wouldn’t put it past ‘the powers to be’ to step to this level of crazy. An Epistle from the Dead is a really fun, twisted and very well constructed story that took me by surprise. A woman is looking through her late husband’s desk and finds a strange looking journal. What she reads is so shocking she can’t believe he wrote it. The ending is so nicely and cleverly concealed. What a great short tale, this is my kind of story. The last story in the collection, Pictures, is a really good one and wraps up the book very well. A high school girl is taking one a picture a day for a year. The picture is of a tree in her back yard. After 3 months she puts the pictures into a video to see the change in movie form. She starts to notice a strange dark shadow moving below the tree she has been photographing. As the months pass she adds more pictures to the video and notices the shape moving toward her house. I wish I could say more about what happens but that would give it away. I can say I loved how this one ended and it’s one of my favorite stories in the book. At The Cemetery Gates is another fine collection of stories from authors Brhel and Sullivan. It’s one that is well worth checking out.
Length: 168 Pages
Publisher: Cemetery Gates Media
Release date: October 27, 2016
A horror/paranormal short story collection inspired by urban legends, folk tales, and anthology TV shows like THE TWILIGHT ZONE and ARE YOU AFRAID OF THE DARK?
Twin brothers enter a funeral parlor as a gag and end up uncovering a sinister operation.
A mysterious illness plagues a small town and a college student seems to be the only one trying to stop it.
A girl’s time-lapse photo project reveals an intruder from the cemetery that shares a fence with her backyard.
AT THE CEMETERY GATES: YEAR ONE is for fans of urban legends, manifestations of the macabre, and strange twists of fate.
Follow Marvelry and his hexed objects through twelve tales of suspense, magic, terror, and transformation. Meet his new assistant, fellow illusionists, and some irregular characters along the way. Whatever macabre artifact of the human psyche you’re seeking – you’ll find something special in Marvelry’s Curiosity Shop.
John Brhel, biography
John Brhel is a writer of fiction from Binghamton, NY. He is the co-author of two books (“Tales From Valleyview Cemetery” and “Marvelry’s Curiosity Shop”), a vampire hunter serial titled “Rita’s Midnight Rides” and numerous short stories.
Follow John on Twitter at @JohnBrhel. Visit his website at https://johnbrhel.com.