Written by: Kirsty Meldrum
Published by: Publish America
Reviewed by Ismael Manzano
Graveyard Companions, by Kirsty Meldrum, is a compilation of fifteen short stories of horror. This is Kirsty’s first novel of this kind, having done mostly poetry before, and unfortunately, though I haven’t read those poems, I can’t imagine they would be any worse than Graveyard Companions and would recommend that she stick to poems from now on. This is one of those reviews that I dread: the one in which I have almost nothing positive to say about the reviewed product.
Rather than bore or annoy you by going through a story by story review of all fifteen works, I’m going to review the book as a whole with a few examples sprinkled in—and if you read the book, you’d thank me for doing so.
Most of the stories are either about vampires or zombies and of the two clichés, the stories do not change much. With the vampires its mostly a stranger coming into the home who is pale and mysterious or the main character goes into a stranger’s home and is not entirely surprised to find the owner drinks very dark red wine and has no mirrors in their house. With the zombies it is mostly revenge stories—someone kills another person and the corpse comes back to haunt them.
Whispers of the Past, the longest and arguably most original story in the set, followed Sharon Prosper through a sweeping family saga of—guess what—vampires. It jumped back and forth between characters and timelines, mixing a little witchcraft into the stew along the way and giving the reader the only story that might have actually required some planning. Unfortunately, that’s all I can tell you about this story, for while it was only fifty-odd pages, it was so cramped with characters and action that I could not follow any one thing for more than a couple of pages and by the end, I was completely lost as to what I had just read.
Zombie She Wrote in particular is another great example of how not to write. The story itself was short—thankfully—and pointless with a first person narrative that was hard to follow and read like the ramblings of a drunkard. If what the author was going for was to show that the protagonist was stupid—even by horror movie cliché standards—as well as suffering from Attention Deficit Disorder, then she succeeded brilliantly.
All in all, Graveyard Companions, was a regrettable read and a waste of effort on the part of the writer, with stories ranging from extremely short—less to a page—to moderate length, from mildly intriguing to almost insulting. There just wasn’t anything there to really catch my interest and left me feeling as though the author just didn’t put enough time into any of it.
I understand that short stories should be judged by a different set of criteria than novels, but they should still make sense and the stories should be good. These stories, sadly, neither made sense nor were they good. The few that weren’t insultingly predictable were disappointingly bland and not up to par with the author’s writing skills—which was actually very good.
Graveyard Companions left me sick to death of vampire stories—which is saying something because I love vampire stories. So if you happen upon it somewhere in your travels, leave it where it is, or it’ll just take up unnecessary space in the bottom of your drawer—because it doesn’t belong in your bookshelf.