The Night Doctor and Other Tales by Steve Rasnic Tem
Centipede Press (December 2019)
336 pages; $20 unsigned limited edition (700 copies) hardcover
Reviewed by Kevin Lucia
I first encountered Steve Rasnic Tem’s work in the inaugural edition of the Greystone Bay series. “In a Guest House” was a startlingly quiet piece, humming with the same undercurrent of unease that can be found in the best Twilight Zone episodes. After that, I continued to encounter Tem’s work here and there, especially as I collected classic horror anthologies from the eighties and nineties. I loved the quiet restraint I found in his work, so when I happened upon a review copy for The Night Doctor and Other Tales, his most recent short fiction collection, I dived right in.
These new tales proved every bit as powerful as anything else I’ve read by Tem. They are quiet and creeping, instilling a dread which slithers under your skin and flits like half-seen shadows from the corner of your eyes. They are also firmly rooted in the human experience, which, at the end of the day, is my favorite kind of weird tale.
In this collection, you’ll find stories ruminating on life change, old age, dementia, sickness, dying, caring for ailing spouses and the toll that takes. As much fun as fast and furious pulp tales are, these are highly literate stories which find the weirdness we take for granted in every day life. But, no worries — I’d also say this collection delves into the supernatural. These are definitely weird stories that will please horror fans, and those looking for strange, painfully insightful commentary on the human experience. Highly recommended.