book review, horror

Myths and Megaliths by Catherine McCarthy

I’m a fan of Catherine McCarthy’s writing. I love the blend of haunting, lyrical horror and grounded, relatable characters that fill her writing.

The ten short stories contained in this collection are some of her best work to date. Each one is skillfully written, conjuring worlds both mundane and magical in the reader’s mind.

Several of these stories haunt me. Coblynau, perhaps one of the least overt horror tales in the book, is one of the most disturbing stories I’ve read in a while and continues to chill me weeks after finishing the collection. Lure, previously published in The One That Got Away from Kandisha Press, is deeply unsettling because it implies so much rather than spells it out.

McCarthy’s horror novella, Immortelle, will be released next month by Off Limits Press, and I’m looking forward to reading it.

Myths and Megaliths kicks off with an emotional story in Cragen, in which seashells play an important – and tragic part – in the life of a family.

There is something about losing a child that immediately fills you with dread. I loved the idea of this story, and the beginning terrified me, but I found the ending lessened the impact of the tale.

Two’s Company Three’s a Shroud is a somewhat lighthearted story about bodies in a graveyard who are unhappy with having to share their grave.

While I’m sure this story will make many people laugh, I couldn’t get beyond the hellish idea of being conscious in your coffin while your body decayed.

Jagged Edges plays with time travel and perception, as well as being a ghost story. There is lovely descriptive work here, and some interesting character questions.

Inspired by a true story, Mãra warns about meddling with spirit houses.

I loved this story, and the true events incorporated into the tale sent chills through me.

A historic cosmic horror story, Retribution combined wonderful language, vivid description and creeping dread to create an eerie and satisfying story.

I loved the theme of monsters in this tale, and, as with most of McCarthy’s works, I could hear the characters voices as I read.

Ysbrid y Môr, or spirit of the sea, is a delightful Christmas story set during a time of pestilence.

The Ice House provides a touch of mystery with its horror. I enjoyed how McCarthy used the titular structure as such an important plot point, and the tragedy builds as each new revelation is uncovered. A wonderful story.

Lure was a standout story in The One That Got Away and it’s just as good in this collection.

Told in second person, a rather gruesome story is revealed with pieces of a discarded fishing lure. Very dark subject matter is handled with great sensitivity in this story, which at first appears to be about very little and snowballs into a crushing avalanche as it continues.

Coblynau is Welsh for goblins (you can hear it when you sound out the word), but the titular creatures didn’t interest me as much as the meat of the story.

This is about an old man in a nursing home. He is portrayed with warmth and love by the author, highlighting in even more disgusting detail the cruelty he is subjected to. One of the best short stories I’ve read in a while.

Carreg Samson brings the collection to a close. While I loved aspects of this ecological horror, especially the sentient megalith, it didn’t push the concept far enough for my liking.

I award Myths and Megaliths

Myths and Megaliths is available for $4.23 ebook on Amazon.


Click on the names below to read my reviews of other books by Catherine McCarthy:

Door and Other Strange Tales.

The Sorcerer’s Apprentice.

Hope Cottage.

4 thoughts on “Myths and Megaliths by Catherine McCarthy”

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