By Steven Manchester and Victoria Valentine
Skyline Publications - 2002
ISBN: 0972349308 - Paperback
Horror / Anthology
Explicit sexual and violent content

Reviewed for by Nancy Mehl
Buy a Copy (Amazon link N/A)

AT THE STROKE OF MIDNIGHT is a collection of short stories by authors Steven Manchester and Victoria Valentine. Nestled between each story is a poem. The stories range from the disturbing to the terrifying.

Manchester's twelve offerings include the clever, Evicted, and the chilling, Criminal Justice. Valentine's six stories are On the Other Side of the Electric Chair, Gliding with Hawks - a Bad Trip, Dawn's Tomb: Mist of the Undead, Ebb Tide, Amber Sands, and the frightening Legend of Smith's Cabin. After Valentine's stories, several excerpts from her upcoming book, THE LAST RESORT, are included. The excerpts are graphic, scary, and well-written. They make the reader afraid to read more while wondering just when the book will be released so we can find out what happens!

I enjoyed many of the stories contained in AT THE STROKE OF MIDNIGHT, but I would like to have seen less narration and more dialogue. The heavy narrative passages slowed some of the writing down and impeded the overall pace. Some of the stories hit the mark - a few didn't seem to have as much punch. However, this is true of almost all anthologies. The poetry could have easily been filler. It wasn't. The poems that proceed each story are exceptional. Chilling, emotional, and moving. I was mesmerized by almost all of them.

AT THE STROKE OF MIDNIGHT will be popular with readers who love stories that make your skin crawl. After reading this book, I actually found myself glancing nervously behind me. Hopefully, I'll be able to sleep tonight…

Nancy Mehl is the author of "Graven Images" and "Sinner's Song."

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