This last weekend my Internet connection was down, so I had extra time to read. In between To Kill a Mockingbird and Hogfather, I had the pleasure of experiencing Moribund Tales by the talented Erik Hofstatter.
These tales are not full stories with a standard beginning, middle, and end. They are snapshots in the wilderness, bits of horror that fell off along the way. They’re the sort of stories one might hear in a tent late at night, accompanied by the flicker of a solitary flashlight.
Some of the stories are a little too brief and could have benefited from further expansion. But it’s never a bad thing to leave a reader wanting more, and on the whole Moribund Tales is a pleasantly creepy read. His style is dark, gothic, and only somewhat gory. They remind me of both Edgar Allen Poe and old black and white movies starring Vincent Price. There are nine stories in the collection, a nice quick little sample, and I’d like to discuss a few of my favorites.
“Last Straw of Humanity” is about love and courage and family secrets. Our narrator comes face to face with his deformed brother who their father has determined is evil, possessed by the devil. Unlike the father, our protagonist has the courage to do what he feels is right, though it breaks his heart.
In “Tears of Repentance,” a scored husband takes the ultimate revenge against his adulterous wife. It’s only after her ghost appears to him that he realizes that things are not always what they seem.
“Infant Fingers” is about an abandoned woman who sacrifices her daughter to exact revenge on the man who left them. This is one of the weirder offerings, and it makes you think hard about the nighttime ritual of checking on one’s infant children in the night.
But I saved the best for lastâ€”and so did Mr. Hofstatter. The Poe-esque narrator in “Affectionate Cadaver” is socially awkward and prefers the company of the dead to that of the living. His romantic life takes an upward turn when he finally meets a woman who can’t resist him.
The bio from his Blogspot reads, “Erik Hofstatter is a dark fiction writer, who dwells in a beauteous and serenading Garden of England, where he can be frequently encountered consuming reckless amounts of mead and tyrannizing local peasantry.
At a young age, he built a Viking ship and journeyed myriad sea miles away from native land in search of plunder and pillage.”