The Sign in the Moonlight and Other Stories by David Tallerman brings thirteen previously published stories to a new audience and adds one more brand new tale to the lineup. Like all collections, there were some stories that kept me entranced and others that were more easily put down, but there wasn’t a dud in the bunch.
The synopsis tosses around the names of the horror greats of the past, and I could certainly see their influence, but Tallerman takes notes from the classics and turns the stories into something new. What he writes is almost like listening to a Jazz musician riffing off a phrase from decades past and turning it into something new and fresh. Each chapter is illustrated by Duncan Kay, who shows us glimpses of the darkness that awaits.
A number of the stories are told in the epistolary style, that being the format of a journal or travelogue. A classic example of this is Dracula by Bram Stoker. I’m a sucker for this style; it evokes the Victorian era and the birth of horror fiction. Pity we poor readers, following the adventures of a certainly-doomed adventurer while sitting in our easy chairs, safe as houses. By the end, the realization: it’s loose and it’s coming for me leaves a pleasant aftertaste of fear and desperation. (Where have my steampunk goggles gotten off to, anyway?)
Not all of the stories are frightening. There’s a poignant ghost story, a bit of dark humor in a story about a young girl and her new best friend, and another that brings a bleak sense of memory and loss to the very real scene of a historical horror.
Grab the book and get acquainted with an author who has much more in store for fans of weird horror. In a genre crowded with too many zombies, werewolves, and vampires, Tallerman brings the past into the present, with an eye toward terrifying us in the future.