It was a blow, last year, to the world of weird fiction when Michael Kelly announced that Shadows & Tall Trees Volume 6 was to be the last in the series. The journal had, since its inception, been a source of fine writing - containing literary tales of strange, unsettling fiction of the highest quality. However, one of the authors featured in that final volume (and whose story Vrangr was one of its highlights) has come to the rescue of connoisseurs of literary horror by producing his own volume of weird fiction, Nightscript 1 - a book containing twenty - yes twenty - beautifully written stories which undoubtedly would have graced the pages of S&TT had it still been in existence.
The writing throughout is of the highest quality and C M has done a great job in selecting the stories to be included. A further link to S&TT comes with the inclusion of A Quiet Axe by Michael Kelly himself, the shortest story in the collection - more of a prose poem truth to tell - but which loses none of its impact as a result of the low word count. With so many stories included, it would be impossible to review all of them individually and do them justice, suffice to say that there isn't a poor one among them. The risk with having so many tales in one volume is that there will be "fillers" but that most assuredly is not the case with Nightscript 1, all of the stories contained within have earned their place, all are of (as previously alluded to) the highest quality.
The subject matter of the stories varies widely but none are anything less than truly weird. There's reincarnation and lycanthropy, restless spirits and things which creep in the shadows. My own personal highlights were Damien Angelica Walters' Tooth, Tongue and Claw which provides an alternative take on the Beauty and the Beast legend (and which serves as a companion piece to her marvellous collection Sing Me Your Scars) along with Ralph Robert Moore's Learning Not to Smile, a typically imaginative - and extremely strange - story which has much to say about medical (and dental) care in America and culminates in a truly jaw-dropping conclusion. Another favourite was David Surface's The Sound That the World Makes, a slow-burner of a tale that leads to an ending which still gives me shivers just thinking about it.
Nightscript 1 is a worthy heir to Shadows & Tall Trees - C M has taken the mantle and run with it, producing an excellent book containing some of the best writing you'll come across this year. It's a book I recommend highly that you should purchase - which you can do here.