I’m delighted to share my review of Midnight Echo (issue 12), theAustralasian Horror Writers Association’s magazine.
Issue #12 features over 50,000 words of the finest horror from Australia and New Zealand, including fiction and non-fiction. This issue showcases the winners of the 2015 and 2016 AHWA Short Story and Flash Fiction Competitions, and is edited by Shane Jiraiya Cummings and Anthony Ferguson.
This issue of mainly short stories contains writing so polished it gleams. All the stories are taut and punchy, and many ooze that essential quality of the entertaining horror story, wit. The magazine is filled with originality composed by authors with suitably twisted minds. Of note is Angela J. Maher’s ‘Effigia Malo”, a gothic tale about images in an old book coming to life; and the bizarre and hilarious ‘Mechanical Cat’ by Rebecca Fung.
Most of the stories in this magazine could have found a home in any literary journal; on the horror spectrum they are soft core. The hint of dread is there in the atmosphere but the reader will find no gore or terror or slasherpunk, there is little to invoke revulsion and the paranormal receives the lightest touch. Many of the tales are set in domestic situations.
Two nonfiction pieces provide some interesting discussion. The first by Anthony Ferguson, ‘Mick Taylor and the Tyranny of Distance’, explores how much Australian horror is rooted in landscape. In the second, ‘A Shared Ambition’, Kyla Lee Ward discusses sources of inspiration in horror and the need for an abundance of ideas.
Overall, the stories set out to disturb rather than shock or revolt. I would recommend this magazine to lovers of literary fiction and appreciators of well-honed and perfectly written compositions as much as I would fans of the refined end of horror shorts.