Four Corners Dark is a well named collection of four short stories. Three of these are quite short and one, The Raven Mocker is a novella and covers about three quarters of the book. This is a relatively quick read which many will go through in one sitting.
I thought the best aspect of this book is that the author's imagination has come up with four quite different and really good ideas as the basis of these stories. In a world where so much is published, it is a challenge to create even one original plot and it is very much to Mr McNally's credit that none of his stories strongly reminded me of anything else I have read.
I thought that Return to Nowhere and The Spinning Wheel were excellent little tales. The first concerns a man who has realised that he cannot actually die. When the going gets tough he can commit suicide and is catapulted into some sort of parallel existence. The Spinning Wheel is about an elderly man who lives with his 44 year old son who has Downs Syndrome. The son starts exhibiting strange abilities to create with his building blocks. Now these two stories were quite different, but had one thing in common. They were relatively simple concepts, uncomplicated, which were well told stories each of which proceeded at a relatively gentle pace and to my mind were Five Star material.
I also liked the whole concept of The Raven Mocker. Its a great story line. However, the masters of horror stories really know how to deliver a story at a very measured pace. Tension gradually builds without a great deal necessarily happening, but menace is definitely there lurking in the background. When something does happen the reader metaphorically jumps! To my mind that is where this story did not achieve its potential. So much in the way of supernatural occurrences were going on at such a frenetic pace that there was never any build up in the tension and it was just one shocking event after another. Having said that I was engaged enough to want to know what was going to eventually happen! This could be an excellent story with a bit less going on, or an excellent book of at least twice the length but with the same content delivered at a gentler pace. Three Stars for this one.
I do not think I had better say too much about the other story Engine 18. It is a shame it was the first in the book. It is about a group of illegal immigrants being guided across the border and catching a train, which is taking them to a hellish place rather than where they wanted to go. Confusing, frenetic and not written as well as the rest of the book. Only One Star would be my verdict. Sorry!
Finally it is not something I normally comment on, but as a self published book, which I presume this is, it is beautifully produced. The cover and inside illustrations are great and the layout is excellent. Very professional. Overall I enjoyed reading this book and the author shows great promise as a horror writer. In my humble opinion he just needs to slow things down in some of his writing!