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The Midnight Hour: Saint Lawn Hill & Other Tales, by James Chambers, Jason Whitley Book Review | SFReader.com
The Midnight Hour: Saint Lawn Hill & Other Tales, by James Chambers, Jason Whitley Genre: Horror Anthology Publisher: Die Monster Die Published: 2005 Review Posted: 11/23/2006 Reviewer Rating:
Reader Rating: Not Rated
The Midnight Hour: Saint Lawn Hill & Other Tales, by James Chambers, Jason Whitley
Book Review by Jeff Edwards
Have you read this book?
There is one constant in Madeline Night's life: Each week, as the witching hour draws near and
Friday fades into Saturday, she will be hosting her radio show, actively "debunking paranormal
frauds and documenting supernatural realities." But outside of that regular appointment, all bets
are off as to what Maddie might be doing: running from otherworldly creatures high up in the
mountains or deep within subterranean caverns, battling one demon or buying greasy fast food
In The Midnight Hour: Saint Lawn Hill & Other Tales, James Chambers and Jason
Whitley add their own superb touches to the occult investigator genre. The collection opens with
"The Hand of Fate," in which Madeline travels to the town of Hamilton, hoping for answers about
a mysterious amulet she possesses. By the final story, "The Blood of Demons," Maddie has
intuitively released some of the relic's power, and she becomes more wary than ever of what may
be in store for her.
Although the book concludes with a desperate battle, as the skies run "wild with blood and
blackness and the shadows of evil," not every tale is so heavy with doom and gloom: some are
masterful mixtures of horror and comedy. Neighborhood pets are disappearing in "Blood & Water,
Fang & Sting," and their predators turn out to be vampire fish - "vampiranhas" - that "float
through the air like butterflies." A jealous husband recites an incantation from an age-old recipe
book in "Hot-Baked Hell," but when Madeline tries to investigate the strange results, she is
chased away by a twenty-foot-tall corpse "inflated and exaggerated like some carnival float in a
hellish parade." Chambers is adept at striking the perfect balance of darkness and light: His most
original creation is Mentthanos, a demon from another dimension with an insatiable appetite for
fried offerings from the Slurp 'N Burp.
A character in the book says, "Something about this feels familiar." There's no doubt that the
collection is reminiscent of supernatural adventures and artwork from years past: Chambers'
stories follow in the grand tradition of "Kolchak: The Night Stalker," "The X-Files," and (believe it or
not) "Ghostbusters" and "Scooby-Doo"; Whitley's pen-and-ink drawings invite comparisons to other
eerie illustrators including Gene Colan, Berni Wrightson, and Derek Riggs, the artist known for his
Iron Maiden album covers. But Chambers and Whitley aren't stealing ideas - they're paying
tribute as only true genre fans can: The book is full of fun "inside" jokes such as radio stations
WHPL and WREH, a receptionist named Bonnie Bloch, and a street called Belknap. Chambers
even manages to work in a reference to a "gibbous moon."
Like Mentthanos inhaling choco-frosts and batter-chix with cheese, readers will gorge themselves
on The Midnight Hour: Saint Lawn Hill & Other Tales, and then clamor for seconds.
Since Chambers and Whitley describe their collection as something "akin to the DVD boxed set of
the first season of a television show," let's hope The Midnight Hour is "renewed" quickly
- Season Two already feels long overdue.
Click here to buy The Midnight Hour: Saint Lawn Hill & Other Tales, by James Chambers, Jason Whitley on Amazon