Night Music is the second in John Connolly’s Nocturnes series of dark and chilling short fiction. Contained within are 12 stories, two multiple award winning novellas and a final section, I Live Here where the author talks of his fictional and supernatural influences.
My favourite story, the one that nudged past the others, as Mr Connolly does set the bar pretty high, had to be The Fractured Atlas – Five Fragments. Which is a novella comprising of 5 loosely linked stories concerning a book of power. Of the five the one I enjoyed most was The Wanderer in Unknown Realms where Mr Sorter is hired by a lawyer to investigate the disappearance of his client Lionel Spalding. Spalding had been buying books of the occult, spending large sums of money and the book he sought was The Atlas of Unknown Realms a book of maps, alleged realms beyond our own. The dark atmosphere and slow building tension are perfect, deep and edgy it felt like a much longer piece, which for me is the sign of an excellent short story.
The Caxton Private Lending Library & Book Depository is an award winning story where famous characters of fiction come to live when their authors die, discreetly hidden in a small town in the countryside. So when newly arrived Mr Berger sees a woman throw herself into the path of a train, the resulting lack of body and the fact that she mimicked and even looked as Anna Karenina would have looked has him thinking. This sees Mr Berger embark on an obsession with the incident which brings him to our Private Lending Library. A second story Holmes on the Range is also based around the lending library and unexpected events when Arthur Conan Doyle decides to kill off Sherlock and Dr Watson. The idea and premise of the library is liberating and kind of like a heaven for your favourite characters, wonderfully imaginative.
Other stories worth a mention are Razorshins where a creature of nightmare haunts Maine in the prohibition era and sad little tale A Haunting about love and heart breaking loss.
Night Music is an absolutely top notch collection of dark supernatural tales guaranteed to scupper your feelings of calm, from an author right at the top of my list of favourites. I enjoyed reading John Connolly’s thoughts and reminisces as much as the stories themselves and Nocturnes volume 2 comes highly recommended.
Words by Paul Nelson, @pgnelson72