A shocking event on an evening train only revealed by hypnosis, a man driven to extremes to rid himself of nightmare neighbours, and a rural driving holiday stopped in its tracks by a mythical creature.
Just three of the 13 Dark Tales, inspired by macabre urban myths and sinister folklore, in this first collection.
Read them in the dark hours when they might call to mind a disturbing story you can’t quite place or a strange shape glimpsed from the corner of your eye; things you dismissed as too fantastic to take seriously but left nagging doubts, nonetheless.
Some of them may be true.
Number of pages: 190 (Kindle) 224 (Paperback)
Current rating (4th December): 5 stars (Amazon) 4 stars (Goodreads)
There is a style used for writing horror stories that works supremely well, something I would simply call casual. It is a laid-back, natural, simple style that suggests a normal world filled with casual, non-intrusive, non-dramatic events until… Until the horrible thing happens, which often, and quite effectively, serves as the story’s climax. Or the horrible thing might happen early, with the aftermath providing the curious and disorienting climax. Michael R. Martin, in his collection 13 Dark Tales, uses this laid-back style most effectively. He keeps his writing clean and tight and misleadingly oh-so-casual … until. Until a young boy’s imaginary friend proves to be all too real. Or a school boy’s traumatic encounter with his teacher portends a much more serious future. Or a psychotic scarecrow comes to life.
In writing 13 Dark Tales, Michael R. Martin is bright enough to acknowledge his writer’s debt to popular, earlier stories; in this case and specifically urban legends that resonate through the generations and love to be riffed upon by appreciative aficionados of the genre. Their obligation, I believe, is to treat those early stories with respect, earning the right to tweak them creatively for new readers. Mr. Martin well earns this right through the quality of his writing, the creativity of his treatments, and the uniqueness of his own interpretations. He adheres to the characteristic momentum of an urban legend shared orally, and to the satisfying denouement of such tellings, leaving the reader to wander about afterwards as if haunted by the hearing and fearing he too might suddenly have just such a terrible encounter. After all, the world does seem to be oh-so-very-normal, until….. Joel R. Dennstedt for Readers’ Favorite.
Follow Michael Martin at the following links