Joe Hart’s “Midnight Paths: A Collection of Dark Horror” is an anthology of ten short stories that span the range of horror, from the supernatural to the evil within seemingly ordinary people.
In the opening story, “PCA,” Eric is filling in for his co-worker and visiting her elderly clients as well as his own—and while the mild-mannered George appears to be in need of no more than a friendly conversation, he turns out to have some very specific (and terrifying) needs. “The Unfamiliar” doesn’t explain itself, but its eerie mix of time loops and doppelgängers is as entertaining as it is confusing; “You Sure Are Calm, Cowboy” brings a tale of wild west horror and desert creatures; and “Old Dog,” which begins with a cruel young boy torturing a chained dog, has some of the most horrifying imagery you’ll find in the genre. The longest offering in the book, “Pale Man,” follows the deep greed of a man drilling for oil on a Nez Perce reservation—and his hubris and refusal to lend credence to Native American lore will unleash an ancient and bloodthirsty beast who feeds on human evil.
Hart’s stories are filled with memorable creatures, with most of the shorts featuring some beast or happening that’s unique and, at the very least, slightly out of the realm of the normal. He has a total knack for detail and that makes a scene come vibrantly alive—the spinal cords hanging from trees in “The Unfamiliar,” and the hollowed-out heads in “You Sure Are Calm, Cowboy” are two such instances I won’t ever forget, though you’ll find that memorable imagery in every single story in this book.
This is a supremely creepy collection, and fans of horror that shocks and disturbs in a creepy good way will especially love these tales.