Review: Magick & Misery by Lincoln Crisler

Magick & Misery by Lincoln Crisler
Release Date: August 1, 2009
Publisher: Black Bed Sheet Books
Pages: 84
Source: book provided by the author for review

In this collection of stories, Lincoln takes the reader on a series of startling journeys……some a bit uncomfortable, while others downright horrifying. He has seemingly channeled the angst and darkness from his personal and wartime experience into several tales of dark fiction, myth, and terror. -from the foreward by Timothy Deal


Review: The short horror story will always hold a special place in the hearts of people who love English literature. Whether opening an old tome penned by E.A. Poe, or downloading the latest grisly tale by Scott Sigler, the eponymous short horror story is that which lives in the hearts of all those who have ever sat around a campfire listening to a good ghost story. That said, Lincoln Crisler’s Magick & Misery is a collection of short stories which promises to show the full gamut of horror cliches – from random murder to horrific ghouls – as it hopes to enter the pantheon of the great fireside stories told to terrify.

It starts off well, opening with a story about a disgruntled garbage man and his adulterous wife. After exacting his vengeance on both of them, he is attacked by those whom he’s slain. A unique take on a “revenge of the damned” plot, I enjoyed feeling both comfortable in the setting and wondering what was going to happen at the end.

Unfortunately, however, much of the short stories consisted of cliched, hurried characters scurrying about in halfhearted environments. Much of the stories left me wanting more, not because I was enthralled in the plot but because I felt so much heart was missing. Often, the stories tell what happened without revealing much of why. The characters, whether protagonist or antagonist, felt callous and capricious, leaving me with a wanton desire to get into their head more, to learn about their motivations more, and to simply connect with at least one of them.

The gem of the book – it’s saving grace – is the final story in the collection, dubbed “The Seven o’ Clock Man”. The truest to the old style monster story, it’s both gruesome and feeds on the fears we’ve all felt as children. This one story makes the book worth the read. It will leave you peeking through the dark in the coming night, making sure that the story’s ghoulish fiend isn’t leering at you from a dark corner. While most of the characters still feel cold in places, the plot and ending more than make up for it.

Overall, this book was a good read. It wasn’t a horribly bad way to spend an afternoon, and I’d recommend it to anyone new to the horror genre. I’d most assuredly be willing to share a couple of these over a cup of hot cocoa sitting by the fire deep in the woods.

Favorite Quote: “Right, right; babies, boy? You’re sure?” Marty nodded. “There’s always a chance with the unborn. You want me to prove that I take the bad children?” Marty nodded again and the monster touched his nose gently with an outstretched talon. “Wait right here, then.” He dropped into his shadow and slid back under the bed.