At the Cemetery Gates is the newest horror anthology from the duo of John Brhel and Joseph Sullivan. For those who may not know, John Brhel and Joseph Sullivan are the creative minds behind Cemetery Gates Media, their publishing company who has so far released two books: Tales from Valleyview Cemetery and Marvelry’s Curiosity Shop – and now present their newest horror anthology offering. This is not a review of those previous works, but I must mention my admiration and total enjoyment of the aforementioned, and I would encourage you to read them.
At the Cemetery Gates is a collection of fourteen tales which are best described in the introduction of the book itself as, “a collection of beliefs, customs, and lore presented as contemporary cultural entertainment”; another referenced description taken from the book is, “digestible suburban fables”. Those descriptors are taken directly from the pages of the book, but let me try to add my own flavor.
This book is a brilliant homage and re-imagining of fables, archetypes, and aphorisms, crafted with the Brhel and Sullivan’s inimitable precision, and placed into modern settings. While reading this, I could not help but envision a modern spin on the Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark series. I use this comparison, not as a method of cheap appraisal, but more as a means to convey the overall ambiance of the book.
I never want to divulge spoilers, so I must apologize for any vague recitations or redundancies, but as connoisseurs of horror, we know that when experiencing any new horror story, the greatest impact comes from the nakedness of being unaware – so no spoilers. The stories range from ghostly visitors to ghostly visits; murders to untimely circumstances, supernatural horror and macabre reality – the gamut of what one would expect when reading folktales. At the Cemetery Gates: Year One is a modern, Gothic infusion of timeless horror themes and folklore, told with the calculating poise of scope in which the authors Brhel and Sullivan excel.
These stories are not directly interconnected, but the authors have crafted a tangible setting in which the stories are connected – locales used in the various narratives are often within driving distance of each other, and for fans of their previous books, the stories give the reader a sense of belonging as many of the names of the locations resurrect memories of previous tales told. The writing style of the authors is well-hewn and seemingly purposeful – where at the mere mention of a certain cemetery, the reader (me, in this instance) feels a sense of belonging, and adds to the subconscious investment into each tale. The stories are not connected, and yet, they belong with each other and exist in the same world.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Excellent pacing and diverse stories that keep you invested in each individual tale. If you like horror anthologies, spooky stories, and well-crafted creepy tales, this book is for you.
John Brhel and Joseph Sullivan are among the best in the indie horror scene. Their writing style is as unique as the stories they tell, with never a moment of predictability. I highly recommend this book, as well as their previous works. You can purchase At the Cemetery Gates: Year One on Amazon here. To learn more about the authors and their previous works, you can visit their Cemetery Gates Media website here.