Saturday, 1 December 2012

Nocturnes by John Connolly

I’ve never really been the biggest fan of short stories; I often find they don’t have the length to fully explore characters and storylines in enough depth to make them believable and enjoyable. But my previous reading of short stories has usually come in magazines or crap local ghost story books that you get at national trust properties. So it was with some trepidation that I picked up a copy of John Connolly’s Nocturnes but it completely changed my mind on short stories.

It was the theme of horror that drew me to choosing this book… well that and the cover image. I know that I shouldn’t judge a book by its cover but it looked so good and it actually captures the feel and tone of the collection perfectly, bookended by two mysterious novellas on either side. I loved this book and I cannot recommend it enough. ‘Nocturnes’ is perfect reading material for October, it gets you in the mood for Halloween. Had I have known this I would have read it then and not a month after, but that doesn’t matter because it so good. ‘The Cancer Cowboy Rides’ is an exceptional opening, the story of a cursed drifter who makes his way across America, leaving a trail of devastation in his wake. It was reminiscent of Steven King but without the danger of wrist strain, seriously some of his books should come with a health warning. His opening chapters could be short stories in themselves.
One of the stand outs for me was ‘The Erlking’, a fairytale inspired story that was both deeply unsettling and genuinely scary. Other highlights include ‘Deep Dark Green’, a story of lost love and underwater monsters, and ‘Some Children To Wander’ that takes my dislike of clowns to a whole new level. I also loved ‘Me Pettinger’s Daemon’ and ‘The Shifting of the Sands’ as they all share a very dark and eerie tone which sets the foreboding atmosphere perfectly. There wasn’t one story that I didn’t enjoy, which is a very hard feat to achieve with a book that includes over 20 of them. Each one was clever, original and thoroughly entertaining and so well written.
The stories cover every theme in the horror genre, from Vampires, ghosts and witches to unknown monsters. There’s a child possessed by evil fairies and also a daemon in the disguise of a child who plays the piano in the middle of the night. Both of these tales dealt with just how bloody creepy children are and how eerily they work in horror when done right. The final novella, a ghost story about a child serial killer, genuinely creeped the shit out of me with its powerful and unexpected ending.
The copy I read contained additional stories that extended my enjoyment of this wonderful book even more, I literally didn’t want this book to end. I love discovering a new author who has a large bibliography and I look forward to reading more of his work. ‘The Book of Lost Things’ is next on my list.


  1. Dying to read this book! Book of Lost Things looks freaky too!

  2. Can't wait to read this - I'm hoping it will be the second book to scare me!