The most outstanding thing about Michael Wehunt’s debut collection, something that sets it apart from the Ligottian school of weird fiction, is its frail and fragile and haunting and beautiful humanity. Real people move through these tales, real people with real loves and hurts, like grieving Hiram in the masterful “A Discreet Music.”

The title story gives us the most unusual twist on the undead I believe I have ever read. The unliving? And there is pain and sorrow and tenderness in that one, too. The pain and sorrow and tenderness of our loved ones calling us, siren-like, to a mysterious fate.

The centerpiece of the collection is “October Film Haunt: Under the House.” It is a metafiction that doesn’t lose sight of the people inhabiting it in favor of its own cleverness. That one is the most like a standard weird fiction tale, in theme if not structure and style. The cosmos is a terrifying place, some film fans find, “under the house,” in an Internet journalistic expedition gone every kind of wrong imaginable.

I don’t know if it’s my favorite piece but the final story, “Bookends,” is the perfect ending to the exquisite collection. To bring up the theme of humanity again, it is so effective because it shows all the despair inherent in the human condition but also the hope. It is gorgeously written and my heart still swells recalling Paul and his daughter.

The other tales are just as delightful and filled with power and heart and soul. I couldn’t recommend this collection more highly. One of my favorites of 2016 and sure to be on many a Best of the Year list when all is said and done.

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