Tuesday 11 January 2011
Midnight Tales by Bram Stoker
Unfortunately it wasn't really what it said on the tin. The collection had twelve stories and at least three of them were definitely not horror. For another one or two it would be debatable. Now that wasn't always a bad thing - I really enjoyed The Red Stockade, an adventure story in which sailors battle pirates - but I do think that if you call a book Midnight Tales and advertise it as a horror collection, you should stick to it.
As with most short story collections, some of the tales were much more enjoyable than others. The Squaw, about the Iron Maiden torture device, was very creepy. One of the tales, The Dream in the Dead House, had originally been included in Dracula (Jonathan Harker on his way to Dracula's castle) but was cut at the publisher's insistence. The Spectre of Doom was originally written for children and had a lovely macabre fairy tale feel.
Unfortunately two of the stories contained my literary pet peeve - writing in another dialect. I know Bram was Irish but I absolutely can not stand reading a story where the spelling has changed to reflect the accent. These two stories were not bad, but all my enjoyment was sucked out of them by the writing technique. Take this example from The Shorrox Man; "She had shkin like satin, wid a warrm flush in it, like the sun shinin' on a crock iv yestherday's crame". If you enjoy that, I admire you, because it is beyond me.
Content aside, this collection was generally well editied. There was a historical/biographical introduction at the beginning and a brief but interesting intro before each story outlining Bram's inspiration and how the story was originally published. I just feel that if the editor had kept the collection strictly horror it would have felt more cohesive and functioned better as a whole book.
Score: 3 out of 5