At The Cemetery Gates is a collection of 14 short stories. As the title suggests, the stories are all linked by the theme of death, dying, or being recently deceased. Cemetery Gates is also the name of the publisher (see what they did there?). A major strength of the book is the variety of the tales, including everything from ghosts to urban legends, and from time travel to murderous clowns.
Most of the stories are subtle in their dread, while others are a bit more visceral. Some involve the supernatural but mostly it is the human condition that brings about death. There’s a definite craft to writing these kinds of short stories – bringing the unexpected in and making it flow with the rest of the tale.
One of my favourite stories is actually the opener about a couple trapped on a snowy road. Another favourite involved two boys witnessing what really goes on in the depths of the local funeral home. The sheer variety of settings, characters, and plots keeps the book ticking along.
The stories are very short, so they are straight to the point. Consequently, there is not always a lot of chance for character development. For some of the longer ones that does come through, and those can have quite an emotional impact.
As with all anthologies there are some stories you’ll enjoy more than others, but they all offer something. In each of them, there is something off and something creepy going on. There is a Twilight Zone or Tales of the Unexpected feel to these stories. They all have a major twist that you won’t see coming, and the majority of these twists worked really well. It’s a quick read and worth checking out.
Reviewed by Andrew Tadman @thebooksofblood.