Sunday, April 27, 2014

New Moon On The Water, by Mort Castle


 NEW MOON ON THE WATER was my first real exposure to the work of Mort Castle (I had previously read one of two of his short stories in an anthology.), but it most certainly will not be my last. One of the joys of reading is discovering a "new" author. Castle is far from new, but that only means that, now that I've found him, there's a large catalogue of his work that is out there waiting for me.

 Although NEW MOON ON THE WATER is subtitled "A Collection of Horror Stories", that's not necessarily the truth, as a fair number of the tales contained in this large volume would be right at home in a "Literary" collection, and would be easily accessible to people who would ordinarily never look at a Horror story.

 To be sure, there's Horror to be found within these pages, from the E.C. tinged twists of "If You Take My Hand, My Son" and the delightfully creepy triptych "Healers" to the brilliantly wrought "14 Short horror Stories", which is exactly what it sounds like: Castle strings together fourteen Horror stories, some as short as a single line. Any one of these short-shorts could have sustained a novella or even, perhaps, a full-length novel, but Castle tosses them out like miniature hand grenades from an imagination so fertile that it can afford to spare a dozen or so brilliant ideas without a second thought.

 Aside from the Horror, Castle is equally at home with Fantasy, as seen in the novella "Buckeye Jim In Egypt", which finds a seemingly simple man on a mission from God in the deep south of the 1920's. There are also quite a few tales that are just plain old beautifully written, regardless of genre or classification. "Dani's Story" finds Horror and renewed hope in the aftermath of an act of random, senseless violence, while "Altenmoor, Where The Dogs Dance" closes out the collection with a touching story of the relationship between a little boy and hid beloved grandfather. Of the 28 stories collected here, there was only one that I didn't love, and even that one won me over by the time it was done.

 This is an amazing collection, written by a man who can change genres and writing styles like a literary chameleon. Consider me a fan of Mort Castle, and consider NEW MOON ON THE WATER to have the highest recommendation possible.

 The publisher provided a review copy.