Here are two mini reviews by Theresa for your reading pleasure.
Don’t judge S.E. Casey’s stories by the cover. Rest assured you will thoroughly entertained, feeling like someone is telling you a tale while you’re roasting marshmallows over a campfire. I am anxious to devour more of this author, not only because of his storytelling chops, but also because I’m curious to see if he’s always trying to kill off children, on Halloween or otherwise. There might be some underlying psychological fixation looming in Casey’s brain. Maybe he hated his own childhood. Or, perhaps he’s merely tapping into the time when we are most vulnerable and most easily scared…
Harlequin Midnight (Release Date: October 28, 2015)
Each Halloween, the city of Grimaldi endures a phantasmagoric children’s play. At night, the city becomes a stage where the Harlequin, that unique performer both tragic and comic, bends everyday life and twists expectations. In his terrible annual performance, the audience becomes the actors; some are changed, some are lost in the dark plot.
Casey’s writing drew me in right away. We follow the narrator, a father who is freaking out about losing his son on this night. Even though adults are supposed to stay inside until dawn, he sneaks out to find out why his son hasn’t come home yet. While experiencing the panic of the protagonist, it’s easy to get interested in this horrific Halloween night when a few random children are annually sacrificed to the Harlequin monster. The evening is so traumatic, in fact, that the narrator’s wife has knocked herself out with hard liquor so she can wake up when it’s all over. One of my favorite parts of this story is when the father glimpses the monster. It’s wonderfully disturbing. The end had me thinking…what really happens? The author leaves a bit up to our imagination. Did the father pay for trying to protect his son? You’ll have to read in order to find out. And, Casey’s use of language makes the ride worth it.
The Century Coven (Release Date: September 6, 2016)
Once every century, the coven in the sleepy town of Berkshire play a Halloween game, a sadistic contest with its own rules and etiquette. With Halloween’s insistence on masks, costumes, and other trickery, it is easy to lose the spirit distracted by the many theatrics. Even witches, those tidy ne’er-do-wells tasked with its care, can stray off course, even when preparing for the main dish. However, one witch plays a game within a game, reminding her sisters of the true delight of the season.
Apparently this one is based on a tale Casey heard in his younger years, which might add a little flavor for readers. He tells this story with a similar style as “Harlequin Midnight”. The narrator sets up the lore and then we’re thrust into the action. I really got into the author’s turns of phrases. His descriptions and language are what stand out the most for me—truly fantastic. I had to reread a few sentences just because they made me stop and take notice.
Casey plays with the old stereotype of witches and how they use their powers. And, there were a few interesting elements that made it fresh, which had me turning the pages. I really wanted to know what was going to happen to the little girl who sat with the new witch on her porch. Was she going to end up eating the poison candy and get devoured by the old crone and her ravenous kitty cat? And, how is the rest of the coven going to react to this new witch who seems to be outsmarting them and their custom?
There are many reasons to pick up a copy of this story, like some of the creative and gory descriptions. Furthermore, if you wish that Halloween was every day, like I do, reading both of these tales makes it seem not so far away.
About the Author
S.E. Casey is a writer of the weird, the grotesque, and the darkly wonderful. His speculative fiction focuses on a collection of oddities, forgotten places, and fallen characters. The horror isn’t in the blood on the knife, but in the loneliness of the void. In vacant corners of empty alleyways does this existential madness fester and presume.
Published in many magazines and anthologies, author information, writing blog posts, and links to his stories can be found at S.E. Casey