Mists & Megaliths by Catherine McCarthy
“A short story is the ultimate close-up magic trick – a couple of thousand words to take you around the universe or break your heart.” – Neil Gaiman
I may have mentioned this once or twice before, but I have recently cultivated an appreciation for the short story, and this collection by Catherine McCarthy is one that I have wanted to explore for a while.
Mists and Megaliths, is the second collection of Catherine McCarthy’s short stories and she has also recently written a novella entitled Immortelle.
Now let me tell you I immediately loved this collection of stories. There is such a plethora of styles and tones, each story different from the last. From creeping, ominous dread, to sharp black humour and also a bit of cosmic horror (which is always going to get my vote as this is one of my favourite genres).
The stories themselves have one thing in common, in that they are about Wales in some way. This is one of the things that intrigued me about this collection, as I have recently visited the country and fell in love with the wild countryside and gorgeous vistas that were outside my door when I woke up. .
Anyway, back to the book!
One of the things that I love about horror is the vastly different ways it can be encapsulated. There can be the ultimate gross out horror or there can be that subtle feeling of unease that makes you turn your head to see if there is something hiding in the shadows behind you. Mists and Megaliths tends to fall into the latter end of that statement, and in other stories, such as Spirit of the Sea, it is barely visible. In fact, that story, the fear is based around feelings of trust, acceptance and faith and is such a wonderful story.
I enjoyed every single one of these stories. Each one bringing forth different feelings and emotions. I loved the incorporation of Welsh myth and folklore into the stories. I always have a soft spot for tales that mix folklore with the story, and these stories are so rich with it that I immediately fell in love with the tales in this book.
When reviewing this book, I wanted to write something pithy and clever, but I knew someone had said it much better than I ever could, and I think that the quote from Neil Gaiman perfectly describes what I felt with this book. There were times that my heart was broken, such as in the initial story Cragen, I went to another world with the tale Retribution, and I enjoyed each and every story.
If you want a short story collection that has a diversity of styles and tones, then I cannot recommend this one enough. I have got Door to read sometime in the future. Oh, and one last thing before I go. I have to mention the cover design of this book. I read in the acknowledgements that this is done by Catherine McCarthy's husband and I think that it perfectly captures the essence of the book.