Beyond the Rail and Other Nightmares is a beautifully creepy horror and dark fiction collection that will leave you aghast for many reasons.
Title: Beyond the Rail and Other Nightmares
Author: Ichabod Ebenezer
Release: June 2021
Genre: Horror, Dark Fiction
A petty thief steals a car and the curse that comes with it…An abandoned laptop leads an overstressed software designer to the dark web, where ruthless traders barter in something more intangible than money… A small-town cop shows up for a routine eviction, but finds an abomination hidden beneath the house… Beyond the Rail and Other Nightmares lures readers into a world of sentient shadows where every smile comes quiet in the black. A world where no object is ordinary, and trusting in the mundane can get you killed.
I love it when an expert of the genre writes the genre. Based on the awesome author’s note at the end, Ebenezer has collected these stories from many years of writing and if not many years (because he doesn’t site dates, necessarily) definitely from much of his effort. I can tell that he has spent much time studying the greats in horror and dark literature and films. That said, the stories illustrate that. The plot of every single story is perfectly executed. There were a few where I felt I needed a tad bit more to gain full enlightenment to the reason behind the story, but every tale was so entertaining, so creepy and so well done.
My favorite stories featured female main characters. I’m a sucker for a kick ass lady character. Two of my favorites were “Condemned” and “Beyond the Rail”. Without spoiling anything, I will say that the namesake story in this book is shockingly perfect as the flagship tale. I Got Chills, at the end. The other thing I loved about the stories, plot wise, was that Ebenezer addressed so many elements of horror, giving everyone a taste of their favorite scares. I’m talking werewolves, zombies, curses, ghosts of numerous varieties, aliens, demons, and mythic creatures I can’t even categorize. I was floored by the variety.
As for characters, I own all, and have read most of Ebenezer’s books and one thing I love about his style is that he really knows how to treat a character. He writes empowered women and tough guys, but he also really knows how to work a bad guy. Check out “Two Shadows, One Gun” if you wanna see what I mean. Additionally, these stories are short and he does an amazing job keeping the side characters from weighing the story down or confusing the reader on who the most important character is.
Each story has its own world, except for a fun coincidence where two stories might be related (?), check the author’s note if you missed it. The settings for the tales are rich. I felt like I was in the lab, in the mansion, in the car with the characters. In some case, I could recall a setting for days after reading. It was well done and immersive.
I usually talk about themes right about now but what can I say about a theme that features creeping out your reader? It worked! Focusing on the fundamentals of horror and dark fiction, all the creepiness was on point and I literally had chills after reading a few of these. Even some were so deep, the chills weren’t from fear but from wondering, “what if this really happened?”. Although these stories were written for different reasons, Ebenezer curated them just right, creating a solid collection with similar yet very different themes.
I highly recommend this book. The writing style is concise and easy to manage, the stories are fun, engaging and will send a shiver up your spine. This is an awesome collection for those who want to start reading horror but may be a little scared to jump in, no pun intended.