Reviewed by Sheri Harper
The Man Who Collected Machen and Other Weird Tales
by Mark Samuels
ISBN13: 978-1-907681-05-9, Paperback: 178 pages, March 16, 2011
The stories in the collection The Man Who Collected Mache and Other Weird Tales by Mark Samuels are as creepy as any by H. P. Lovecraft that I have read. Probably the one that makes you shiver the most is “Nor Unto Death by Edmund Bertrand” which tells the tale of a doctor tending to his dying patient. Death terrifies many people and the appearance of occult anti-religion makes it even more so. Mark Samuels leads you step by step into wanting to know more about the beloved lost wives.
I was surprised to find myself really like a zombie tale in the collection called “A Question of Obeying Orders”. The hero confronts the evil ones without even a shiver but the twist at the end of the tale is the skill set that makes a good tale.
Even the horror of dying worlds in a pseudo-science fiction tale is included in the collection in a tale called “The Black Mould”.
What makes this a fun collection to read is the mode of writing in the same style as those early horror tales with formal language and settings built as if they existed in the netherworld. These are stories where everyone seems to whisper and creep, except they aren’t very predictable. The heroes have a believable, confiding style of telling the tale and what hooks the reader by their ability to share what they learn but also in their ultimate experience with the weird.
Quite a few of the tales have the element of language embedded in them. In “THYXXOLQU” the hero finds himself speaking another language and the world slowly changing around him. In “A Contaminated Text”, events unroll at a library with the book referred to in the title acting as the creepy. The “Man Who Collected Machen” is the hero of the tale and the title, about someone with a collection mania that knows no bounds almost. “Glickman the Bibliophile” has the most horrendous tale of all; he gets to meet an editor.
For readers that like to shiver, visit graveyards and lose control of reality, these tales are sure to delight, all well told. And they have sorcery embedded in them, one day a reader starts reading, the next thing they know is that they aren’t where they’ve been before, no matter what they dreamed.
About the reviewer: Sheri Fresonke Harper is a poet and writer. She’s been published in many small journals and is working on her second science fiction novel. See www.sfharper.com