Review by Michael Bryant
The wind howls through the skeletal branches of the forest outside my house, as light of the flame throbs yellow on the paper. My eyes slide over the words on the page.
“In that lonely hollow, the oak tree broods as it has done since days of Eden, feasting on the dreaming dead, alight with autumn’s fire.”
Reading at my desk, the candle flame feebly pushing away the darkness, I feel my heart pulse and the bleakness of the winter night creep into my bones.
From author Daniel Mills comes a sampling of antiquarian New England horror. Mills serves up a melancholic brew of tragic characters, oppressive atmosphere, and the abysmal fear of the unknown beyond. He is the satyr leading us through the phantasmic history of the spectral wilderness, and bewitched urban landscapes of North Atlantic America. Melding pagan traditions with puritan dread, Mills sends the reader floating down a course twisted as the Miskatonic. Formed in modern style with classic intonations, Mills’ stories tease the imagination and drive the reader into feasting on the lugubrious aesthetic. After gorging on the tome, we are left hungering for more.
The opening story “The Hollow” examines the beauty of despair, with freedom from the memory of love, where escape from that abyss is found only in the eradication of one’s existence. “Dust From a Dark Flower” finds the burying ground in the village of Falmouth infested with a soul-devouring fungal growth, whose insidious tenacity does not restrict itself exclusively to the deceased.
A favorite pastime of mine is strolling through an old cemetery, admiring the engravings and decoding the history of a community, seeking the sum of lives laid to rest there. Daniel takes us on such a tour of an old churchyard in “Whistler’s Gore”, where it seems the year of 1798 was a trying time for the settlement. “The Falling Dark” administers an injection of cosmic horror and the struggle of temptation at the threshold. A veteran of the Civil War relates the horrors of Shiloh, and his strange and brief stay at “The House of the Caryatids”, a southern manor with valkyrie guardians. The anthology concludes with the title story “The Lord Came at Twilight”, which steps out of the American locales and into the arena of middle ages Europe where a series of misfortunes plunges the faithful and virtuous into the pit of corruption and debauchery.
Wayne Miller illuminates the gloom of Daniel’s mind with his illustrations, enhancing the experience of the stories and steering the reader’s mental imagery to the intended discourse of the emulation of sorrow. The literary and visual artworks combine to create an overall sense of morbid ambiance, sure to delight the most discerning weird fiction enthusiast.
Settle in for the evening and wander the broken and muddied path through the centuries with Mr. Mills as your guide, moving toward the hour of twilight and His coming.
5/5 Fungal Rotted Tombstones