Reviewed by Mario Guslandi

Still considered a genre magazine, Supernatural Tales is actually a yearly anthology of dark fiction offering a medley of quiet--but sometimes not so quiet - horror and the occasional supernatural tale. But, as editor David Longhorn has discussed in the past, the concept of "supernatural" is rather subjective and, as he points out in this volume's Afterword, he's not going to change the magazine's title. Thus, the selective criterion for including a story in Supernatural Tales remains the editor's (excellent) taste.

Compared with the previous issues, the present volume doesn't feature any real standout, but the quality of the seventeen contributions remains consistently good. Needless to say the reviewer has his own preferences and would like to share them with the readers.

A steady rain, the stench of uncollected trash, an empty library and a mysterious notebook give to Off the Hook by Simon Strantzas a very promising start imbued with a dark atmosphere. Then, somehow, the story gets a bit confused and inconclusively obscure. Too bad. is an offbeat piece by the talented Don Tumasonis, revealing the unexpected dangers of surfing the net.

Clive Ward's The Guardian is a delightful Jamesian story revisiting the beloved clichés of evil lurking in the dark corners of ancient churches, whereas Gary McMahon's Nowhere People is a perceptive, upsetting tale of contemporary urban horror set in a rundown neighbourhood inhabited by poor immigrants.

In The Wound by Paul Melniczek we enjoy the clever portrait of a man facing the mystery of an unknown predator haunting his back garden.

Helen Grant certainly knows how to tell a good story in an entertaining way. I don't know if Purslane the Witch has previously appeared in other tales but I do hope she will again in the future.

Carole Tyrrell contributes Playing God, a compelling story of psychic vampirism by a force haunting a dilapidated house.

In the quite enjoyable The Bloodstone by Sue Gedge an unsuspecting girl experiences the magic power linked to the jewel she's inherited from her grandmother.

William I I Read's Landlord's Inspection is an excellent piece of urban horror taking place in a dreary Reading and Lynda E Rucker's The Last Reel is a disquieting, chilling report of the visit to the deserted house of a deceased aunt believed to be a witch.

So, as you may have noticed, in addition to already established names, we have quite a few newcomers here, who are showing promising qualities. Kudos to the editor for discovering them.

Good fiction is what matters and never mind if there are people who find the magazine ďa bit tweedy and respectable, a tad old-fashioned, not quite at the cutting edge". Who are those fools, by the way?

Supernatural Tales edited by David Longhorn, 291 Eastbourne Avenue, Gateshead NE8 4NN. A5, 187pp, £6 or £16/3 (other countries, refer to website for purchase information).

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