This latest short story collection from T.W. Grim collects fourteen short horror stories with an underlying emotional weight that really helps separate these shorts from other horror collections.
A lot of the stories contained here are of the supernatural variety but feel simultaneously surprisingly grounded. I got very strong Stephen King vibes with a lot of these shorts, as Grim shares a conversational style with King that carries a strong narrative voice, carefully crafted to often include a story within a story.
What most readers will likely remember from A Different Kind of Magic is the collection of four “Tales From Henry’s Farm” shorts. Each one features a young man and his Uncle Henry, who regales him with a (supposedly) true story from his younger days. Each story is paranormal in nature but keeps the focus on characters to make the outlandish stories relatable. As these series of tales progress, this relatability carries forward to the narrator and his nephew as the shorts become gradually less about the outlandish tales themselves, but more about the person doing the telling, and it becomes a meditative look at their relationship. It’s not a technique I can honestly say I’ve seen before and these four stories are a big highlight for this fact alone.
The “Tales From Henry’s Farm” shorts also feel very nostalgic, and that is another theme that carries on throughout. The books opening story, “In the Summer of ‘79” feels like classic King, as an elderly narrator reflects on a bloody time in his past. It reads like a body horror take on 1922 and is a strong opener. My favorite story from the book is perhaps the most sentimental of them all. “Death, Magic, and the Golden Yellow Stingray,” a tale about a young boy who finds an abandoned bicycle and how it changes his summer, and life, for the better, is a heartwarming story with subtle supernatural undertones, very much in the vein of Stand By Me.
Other tales deviate from the formula somewhat to present a varied collection. “Swole” is a blackly comic cautionary tale about a bodybuilder who takes things a little too far, whereas “It’s In The Shape Of Things” is a frankly unsettling piece of cosmic horror and “A Brand New Kingdom” gives us the most unlikely of apocalypses.
While there is far more killer than filler, not all stories are created equal, and it is the shorter offerings (“Ten Seconds”, “Cenopath”, “I Slipped Sideways”) that suffer alongside the longer entries. They are all decent, well-told shorts, but just don’t stand out when compared to the stronger of the book’s stories. Each of these three tales clocks in at one to two pages, so are quick and enjoyable reads in their own right.
A Different Kind of Magic offers a wistful, sentimental selection of horror shorts with a few nasty tales to balance out the feel-good factor. Any horror fan will no doubt find something to enjoy in this consistently excellent collection.
A Different Kind of Magic by T.W. Grim
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Magic can be used for good, and it can also be used for evil, but there is a different kind of magic to be found in this collection of stories by T.W. Grim – the kind that can take you away from yourself, if only for a little while.
DescriptionMagic can be used for good, and it can also be used for evil, but there is a different kind of magic to be found in this collection of stories by T.W. Grim – the kind that can take you away from yourself, if only for a little while. Behind the cover of this book lies fourteen dark and wondrous spells, fourteen doorways to another place and another time. These pages are populated by tormented souls, the restless dead, and gruesome horrors of every description. Stoke up the fire, get cozy within a protective layer of blankets, and prepare to fall under the enchantment of these frightful incantations…