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Legends of the Mountain State / Edited by Michael Knost

thlotms_large.jpgWoodland Press LLC / October 2007
Reviewed by Martel Sardina

Genre anthologies are a tough nut to crack. Readers are typically drawn in by the big name authors and expect those to be the only “good” stories in the collection. The bar is set high when names like Monteleone, Waggoner, Nassise and Burke appear on the list of contributors. It is rare to find an anthology where every story in the collection is not only well-written, but also compelling. Legends of the Mountain State is one of the rare cases where every story delivers on both counts.

The collection opens with Tom Monteleone’s “Images in Anthracite.” Our hero, Cort Fallon, lost his father at the age of ten due to an accident in the Pickman Mine. Years later, he receives a strange letter from a man who claims Cort’s childhood home is haunted by the ghost of Cort’s father. After much debate with his friend, Kevin, the two decide to investigate the man’s claims and find the ghost’s reappearance may be connected to General Energy’s plan to re-open the Pickman Mine. Now that Cort has learned more about his father’s accident and General Energy’s plans, what can he do to stop them?

What happens when a detective can’t solve a case in time to save lives? In “How The Night Receives Them,” Kealan Patrick Burke’s detective has been dubbed “The Poet” due to writing a poem about a case that continues to plague him despite the fact the killer is being brought to justice. Burke paints a gut-wrenching portrait of a man consumed by regret.

Editor Michael Knost must have known that for every good detective story there should be a story of equal merit examining the other side of the law. In Legends of the Mountain State, we are given a couple of different glimpses into how the bad guys live. Joseph Nassise’s hit man in “Money Well-Earned” is hired to kill a monster, the legendary Mothman. When he learns that the Mothman’s touch brings warnings of future evils, he must decide who the real monster is. Bev Vincent plays a game of smoke and mirrors using the legend of “Screaming Jenny” to cover up a crime.

West Virginia as a setting is rich with the necessary elements for weaving ghostly tales. Coal mines, remote farms, and winding mountain roads in small towns combined with people who believe the lore makes for a fantastic backdrop for the collection’s adventures to unfold. Those who are unfamiliar with West Virginia may come away from reading this collection wondering which of our states can really call themselves the “most haunted.” West Virginia may now be a contender for that title.

Purchase Legends of the Mountain State, edited by Michael Knost.

Posted on Monday, December 17, 2007 at 08:39AM by Registered CommenterDark Scribe Magazine in | Comments Off

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