At the Cemetery Gates: Year One by John Brhel and J. Sullivan

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At the Cemetery Gates: Year One by John Brhel and J. Sullivan
Publisher: Cemetery Gates Media
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Horror, Paranormal, Holiday, Contemporary, Historical
Length: Full Length (168 pages)
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

Twin brothers enter a funeral parlor as a gag and end up uncovering a sinister operation.

A mysterious illness plagues a small town and a college student seems to be the only one trying to stop it.

A girl’s time-lapse photo project reveals an intruder from the cemetery that shares a fence with her backyard.

The world is full of strange things that we’re only beginning to understand.

What I liked the most about “A Tale of Palpable Violence” was that it was full of intrigue. Sherry and Bram, the main characters, were driving down the road after a night that got their blood pumping. I couldn’t figure out if I was more curious to know what they’d done or where they were going to go next. Both questions were at the forefront of my mind as I searched for clues and answers. The clever twist at the end only made me enjoy this one even more.

All of the stories in this collection had great premises, although there were a handful of them that could have used a little more development. “New Year’s Eve, What a Gas” was one example of this. The storyline followed a young couple, James and Claire, who invited several other couples over for a New Year’s party. While working in the kitchen, Claire suffered a terrible and mysterious injury. The ending to their tale was a bit confusing to me because there weren’t many details about how she was able to get into that predicament in the first place. Her injuries were something that I’d never expect to happen to any reasonably intelligent adult, so I would have liked to spend more time exploring why they happened to her. If not for minor issues like these, I would have chosen a much higher rating for this collection as it was otherwise really good.

In “The Hermit of Russian Lake,” Keith and Becky Lane tried to rekindle their struggling marriage during a family vacation. While on their trip, Keith accidentally stumbled across a hermit who has been illegally squatting in the area for decades. All of the plot twists that happened after that scene were what made me love this tale. I didn’t see any of them coming, so it was a lot of fun to discover them. They constantly kept me wondering what would happen to Keith next and the hermit next.

At the Cemetery Gates: Year One should be read by anyone who enjoys surprises. This anthology is full of them!

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