This is my first taste of Bracken MacLeod. I’ve heard that he’s an up and comer, but as for as I can tell, he’s already arrived. His lyrical prose will strike a cord with any horror reader. His stories are fully realized and his characters are fully fleshed out. Now, that’s saying something with short stories. Most of the short stories included in this collection were previously published in magazines and anthologies before they were compiled, but all of them were new to me, though. No two stories are in the same lane. A horror author just starting out should study this collection because it is filled to the brim with different writing styles. I love the way MacLeod approaches a story. From a reader’s view, you can’t ask for a better experience.
Nineteen tales make up this fine collection. I will only talk of a few, though. Every story is great, but I like sharing the ones I really dig. The stories that follow are only a smattering of what lies within the boards of 13 Views of the Suicide Woods. Diversity enriches this collection.
Bracken MacLeod kicks things off with Still Day: An Ending. It’s a flash piece. It sings. It’s delightful. And it really sets the tone of this collection. This one brought tears to my eyes. She’s no longer lonely, for death brings life.
Another tearjerker is The Boy Who Dreamt He Was a Bat. It’s about a child’s coping mechanism, which is daydreaming. Very sad story.
It’s stories like The Texas Chainsaw Breakfast Club or I Don’t Like Mondays that get my horror heart pumping. A tale in which a group of teenagers are imprisoned by their guidance counselor. MacLeod mashes classic tropes together from two of my favorite films. I really dig the authors vision in this story.
In Ciudad de los Niños, a desperate father is searching for his daughter. His search leads to a village of orphans and their “mother”. He must make a bargain. This one is very creepy.
You’re going to need your dancing shoes for Some Other Time. Two ladies venture to the local club, looking for some late night companionship.
Khatam is a powerful tale of life and death. It’s a flash piece on a couple’s life being tragically changed in a blink of an eye. This piece is powerful because it’s real life horror for many.
Although I didn’t talk about every story, they are all good and thoroughly entertaining. You can see MacLeod’s gifted storytelling progress within this collection. The story arrangement could’ve been better, though. I could talk about this collection for hours. Great writing. Great visuals. Great reveals. I look forward to reading Bracken MacLeod’s other works.
These stories inhabit the dark places where pain and resignation intersect, and the fear of a quiet moment alone is as terrifying as the unseen thing watching from behind the treeline. A young woman waits for her father to come home from the place where no one goes intending to return. A single word is the push that may break a man and save a life. The end of a marriage unravels the world. And a still day beneath the sun illuminates the quiet sorrow of the last feather to fall.
Bracken MacLeod is the author of Mountain Home, White Knight, and, most recently, Stranded, which has been optioned by Warner Horizon Television. He lives in New England with his wife and son.