PrintE-mail Written by Christian Jones

It has been a decade since John Connolly’s short story collection Nocturnes was published, but as the old adage states, “all good things come to those who wait.” And we’ll come straight to the point here and now, the wait has been more than worth it with Night Music: Nocturnes Volume 2! Now it’s not as if Mr. Connolly hasn’t been productive in the intervening years. Indeed, the release of each new supernaturally imbued Charlie Parker crime thriller is a much anticipated annual event, and let’s not forget his children’s Samuel Johnson series, nor The Chronicles of the Invaders young adult trilogy that he has co-authored with his partner, Jennifer Ridyard.

The real surprise with Night Music is that the thirteen tales presented are the culmination of all Connolly’s short fiction in the last decade, and as he’s such a prolific author you’d imagine he’d have volumes worth. Despite this, both Nocturnes anthologies prove that Connolly is a master of creating exquisite short stories, and Night Music is (if you’ll excuse the music reference) “all killer, no filler!” The stories on offer range from charmingly whimsical to absolutely terrifying, with one or two being reminiscent of Clive Barker at his goriest best.

The Caxton Private Lending Library and Book Depository gently opens Night Music, and it’s a charming tale of a most unusual library where famous literary characters exist. It also concerns a lonely book worm who finds just what he’s always longed for. But did he accidentally find the library, or did it deliberately find him? The library is visited again in Holmes on the Range, in which Holmes and Watson discover they are literary creations leading them to a confrontation with their creator.

A Dream of Winter is a mere page in length, and what a powerfully terrifying tale it is. This is a perfect example of Connolly’s aptitude as a writer of the short story form and you’ll never want to turn your back on a graveyard again.

The Fractured Atlas – Five Fragments is a work that harks back to the classic ghost stories of M.R. James, in which an object brings forth a spectral entity, and H.P. Lovecraft, where an ancient demonic force is seeking its way into our realm using the aforementioned object. Connolly captures the period writing style perfectly. Ironically, Connolly admits to not being an admirer of Lovecraft in the entertainingly humorous and autobiographical I Live Here. Readers of a certain age will certainly share in  Connolly’s memories of his ‘70s childhood watching BBC2’s Saturday late night Hammer and Universal’s horror double bill. This is a writer who lived on a diet of M.R. James, Stephen King and Ed Mcbain, and devoured Children of the Stones and Sapphire and Steel.

John Connolly is a writer that has the ability to hook the reader from the first sentence with his rich and introspective style of prose. He’ll take you on a wild ride of horror with one story, and then next tell you a gruesome fairy tale whilst effortlessly segueing into a supernatural love story. Parents will particularly find The Blood of the Lamb and The Children of Dr. Lyall heartbreaking, and any who is grieving for a loved one will find solace in A Haunting’s tender account of love after death.

With Halloween on our doorstep, Night Music: Nocturnes Volume 2 is the perfect accompaniment to the witching season. Read it with the lights down low, or by the light of the moon, but just read it and revel in this macabre master storyteller.



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