MIDNIGHT STREET #7

Reviewed by Garry Charles

It's been a while since I got to review a magazine and it was something I was quite looking forward to as the UK appears to produce some high quality publications. But Midnight Street is a mixed bag that has left me undecided.

I can't say that I was disappointed as the pages did hold a couple of absolute gems. On the other hand it lacked the clout or punch that many others seem to provide with ease.

My first negative has to be the cover; very eye catching Photoshop artwork let down by a poor quality paper cover held together with staples. The staples I can live with but for me personally, the cover should always be of a higher quality than the pages within. After all it's what looks good to the eye that makes you buy. (Hey, that rhymed.)

Checking out the interior with a quick flick through I was pleased to see an incredibly high standard of artwork by the various artists. These were slightly let down by the odd story accompanied by photos. On the whole the editor should be commended on his choice of artists.

So, with the prelim checks out of the way, it was feet up with a mug of coffee. It was reading time.

The featured author was Gary Fry, with an interview and a bibliography, and there is no doubting he is a skilled writer. He knows all about prose, sentence construction and grammar. But, as a famous author once said, 'A good writer doesn't necessarily make a good storyteller.'

Going Back is the opening tale to Midnight Street, which means it should hook the reader, entice them to read more. Unfortunately Going Back felt empty, lacked originality and finished with a whimper rather than a bite.

What Goes Around is the second offering from Gary and again we see that he knows how to write; all he needs to do now is tell a story that grips the reader. A pissed up game of spin the bottle reveals the secrets of wife beating in a lacklustre manner with characters this reader had no sympathy for. Now if the victim had been covered in scars from the neck down (hence truly marring her beauty) then the story would have at least had a punch line to be remembered. IMO Gary would be wise to stick with editing anthologies, as this is something he seems more suited to.

Things take a move in an upward direction with The Unnameable by Adena Graham. This story still showcased the skill of a fine writer, but here we had an understanding of terror, a slow, mounting tension. I was also rewarded with a bite at the end, only small, but I felt the bugger nip.

Next up was Unto the Last Generation. I have come to realise that Steve Redwood can do little wrong and this tale was further proof of his outstanding talent. The end of the world is given a superb twist in this original work of art. If only I had three thumbs. As it is I only have two, but Steve gets them both pointing upwards.

Rhys Hughes is an unmistakable genius. I've not read huge amounts of his work, but what I've seen speaks for itself. As usual the surreal humour chiselled a smile onto my face and by the end of The Inflatable Stadium I was chuckling away and on the edge of pissing my pants. (I seem to be running out of thumbs.)

Xanadu Springs followed and, with the last two tales, I'd been lulled into a false sense of security. Another case of style over substance. The idea holds so much promise, but never lives up to it. The narrative just toddles along and then ends. A shame as Andrew Hook is usually top notch.

Fleeing, On a Bicycle with your Father, From the Living Dead is a quandary and I can't make up my mind whether I like it or not. It has horror, zombies and humour (three things I love) but I'm unsure if they gelled together as well as they could have. Not the best zombie story I've ever read, but nowhere near the worst. Ask me again in six months when I've read it again.

The story is followed by an interview with the author. And this is what an interview should be like. If you didn't know about Ralph Robert Moore before reading you would after.

Midnight Street is also full of poetry and, as usual, the poets have me bowing at their feet. I wish I could get an audio version of them being read from the soul who created them.

At the end of the day what do I think?

Midnight Street already has a following which it will probably keep, but if #7 is your first taste of what Mr Denyer has to offer then I doubt you'll venture further into his world.

A case of too many misses and not enough hits.

Midnight Street edited by Trevor Denyer, 7 Mount View, Church Lane West, Aldershot, Hampshire, GU11 3LN, England. A4, 56pp, £3.50/$10US or £9.50 for 3 issues/ $28US All cheques etc payable to “T. DENYER” (online purchase details, including other countries, can be found at the website).

Website: - www.midnightstreet.co.uk


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