Daniel Mills' The Lord Came at Twilight was published by Dark Renaissance Books in 2014.
Information about Daniel Mills:
Daniel Mills is an author of weird/horror fiction set in his native New England. Revenants, his first novel, was published in February, 2011 by Chomu Press and later selected by Booklist as one of the Top 10 Historical Novels of 2011.
His short fiction has appeared in various anthologies including Delicate Toxins (Side Real Press, 2011), Dadaoism (Chomu Press, 2012), and The First Book of Classical Horror Stories (Megazanthus Press, 2012). Watch for future stories to appear in Black Static (TTA Press, 2012), A Season in Carcosa (Miskatonic River Press, 2012), Fungi (Innsmouth Free Press, 2012), and The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror 23 (Robinson, 2012) amongst other journals and anthologies. A complete bibliography can be found at his website: http://www.daniel-mills.net/.
He lives in Vermont.
Click here to visit the author's official website.
Information about The Lord Came at Twilight:
I know them, these hills.
In the foothills of the Green Mountains, a child grows up in an abandoned village, haunted by memories of his absent parents. In a wayside tavern, a murderous innkeeper raises a young girl among the ghosts of his past victims. Elsewhere the village of Whistler’s Gore is swept up in the tumult of religious fervor, while in rural Falmouth, the souls of the buried dead fall prey to a fungal infestation.
This is New England as it was once envisioned by Hawthorne and Lovecraft, a twilit country of wild hills and barren farmland where madness and repression abound. The Lord Came at Twilight presents 14 stories of doubt and despair, haunter and haunted, the deranged and the devout.
A REVIEW OF DANIEL MILLS' THE LORD CAME AT TWILIGHT
Do you want to read beautifully written weird fiction that is reminiscent of classic weird fiction? Are you looking for horror stories that are genuinely frightening and unsettling? If you answered "yes" to these two questions, you have found what you're looking for, because the stories in Daniel Mill's The Lord Came at Twilight are old school weird fiction. They're brilliantly unsettling and sophisticated stories that stay true to their roots that lie deep in classic weird fiction.
These past couple of years have been exceptionally good years for weird fiction, because many excellent short story collections have been published to critical acclaim. The Lord Came at Twilight joins the canon of these excellent collections and makes its way all the way to the top. It's one of the best weird fiction collections of the year, and it's right up there at the top with Clint Smith's Ghouljaw & Other Stories and Simon Strantzas' Burnt Black Suns. I dare say that if H. P. Lovecraft were alive today, he would be tempted to call this collection his own and would be very proud of these stories.
Daniel Mills' The Lord Came at Twilight is almost like a short story collection out of the past, because the author writes evocatively about the historical past of New England and what goes on in the remote areas. When you read these stories, you are instantly reminded of old gothic and haunting stories that have fascinated and terrified readers for many decades. These stories instantly transport the reader to the ancient (and not-too-distant) past of New England when the world was a different place, because the author beautifully evokes a proper sense of time and place with his sentences. You can easily believe that everything that happens in these stories truly takes place in the past.
I'm glad I had the opportunity to read and review Daniel Mills' The Lord Came at Twilight. Because I've been fascinated by Lovecraftian horror and weird fiction for a long time, it makes me glad to see that new and talented authors have followed in Lovecraft's footsteps and have written similar kind of stunningly weird stories. Daniel Mills is definitely one of these talented authors, because he writes excellent Lovecraftian weird fiction that pays homage to the old master's tales and the terrifying atmosphere in them. He is a gifted storyteller and a remarkable new talent who has the ability to evoke vivid and realistic images of an age gone by. He's able to write old-fashioned weird fiction without being too old-fashioned, because there's a modern edge to these stories.
The Lord Came at Twilight contains the following stories:
- The Hollow
- MS Found in a Chicago Hotel Room
- Dust from a Dark Flower
- The Photographer's Tale
- Whistler's Gore
- The Wayside Voices
- John Blake (original to this collection)
- The Falling Dark
- The Tempest Glass
- House of the Caryatids (original to this collection)
- The Naked Goddess
- The Lord Came at Twilight
This collection also contains an introduction written by Simon Strantzas. It's a good and well written introduction, because Simon Strantzas tells of how he found Daniel Mills and describes what kind of weird fiction the author writes.
Here's a bit of information about the stories and my thoughts and comments about them:
- The protagonist of this story visits a hollow and sees an enormous and ominous oak tree.
- This memorable story contains atmospheric descriptions of the protagonist's tragic life and his survival.
- This is a powerful opening story that sets the mood for the other stories.
MS Found in a Chicago Hotel Room:
- A story about a man who visits a brothel and gets into trouble because of a woman.
- A beautifully written, imaginative and atmospheric King in Yellow story.
- I won't the name of the protagonist, but I'm sure that it will be a pleasant surprise for all readers who have read weird stories and are familiar with classic weird fiction.
Dust from a Dark Flower:
- In this story a physician writes down his macabre tale before being sentenced to death by hanging so that people shall know the truth about what has happened.
- Dust from a Dark Flower is a chilling and memorable story in the vein of H. P. Lovecraft's The Colour Out of Space and John Carpenter's The Thing about a mysterious rot found in the graveyard.
- This is definitely one of the best and most memorable stories in this collection.
The Photographer's Tale:
- A chilling story about a photographer who sees strange things through the camera's viewfinder.
- An atmospheric tale that is told in a thrilling way.
- This is an interesting story that consists of epitaphs on the gravestones in the old churchyard.
- This is a bit different kind of a story, but it works well.
The Wayside Voices:
- A complex and compelling story that has an interesting structure. This ghost story is told by multiple characters.
- One of the best and most memorable stories in this collection.
- An intriguing story about a young man called John Blake who meets a mysterious stranger and learns new things from him.
- I liked this story very much.
The Falling Dark:
- A powerful story about a man's isolation and fascination with a woman.
- One of the best stories in this collection.
- An interesting story of a man meets a mysterious woman and spends a night with her only to find her gone the next morning.
- A well written and atmospherical story that is definitely one of the best stories in this collection.
The Tempest Glass:
- In this chilling story a reverend sees a terrifying vision in a haunted mirror.
- I don't remember when I've read as good a story as this one, because it's perfect and unsettling weird fiction.
House of the Caryatids:
- A fantastic story about three soldiers and a mysterious plantation in the South during the US Civil War.
- This story is one of my favourite stories, because I've always loved stories about persons who wander where they shouldn't go and find themselves in trouble.
- An excellent and well written story that will please fans of H. P. Lovecraft.
The Naked Goddess:
- In this unforgettable story the protagonist wanders into an odd and hostile village where people are blind and finds trouble there.
- This story is one of the best "a person wanders into a strange town" stories I've ever read, because the author creates a wonderfully menacing atmosphere.
The Lord Came at Twilight:
- This brilliant and well-told story is related to Thomas Ligotti's The Mystics of Muelenberg.
- The Lord Came at Twilight is a perfect choice for the last story in this collection.
- I'm sure that readers who are familiar with Thomas Ligotti's stories will enjoy reading this story.
I enjoyed reading all of these stories, because there weren't any filler stories in this collection. Each story is excellent and worth reading.
Daniel Mills is undisputedly one of the strongest and most gifted Lovecraftian authors who have emerged during the last couple of years. These stories are marked by the same kind of sense of style, feel of unease, despair and gradually building terror that can be found in Lovecraft's stories. Although there are many similarities to Lovecraft's stories, the author doesn't imitate his works, but writes wholly original fiction.
I think that many readers who have read weird fiction have noticed that weird fiction is at its best amazingly beautiful and atmospheric horror fiction. The classic stories written in the late 19th century and early 20th century are especially terrifyingly beautiful in their gloomy and bleak atmosphere, because the protagonists find themselves at the mercy of happenings that make shake them both mentally and physically. Daniel Mills manages to do the same to his protagonists in these stories.
To be honest, it's been a long time since I've read anything this good and atmospheric when it comes to weird fiction. I have read lots of Lovecraftian weird fiction and also other kind of weird fiction, but these stories are some of the few stories in which the old and historical New England serves as a background for the terrifying and macabre happenings. This New England setting is something that I love very much, because ever since I first read H. P. Lovecraft, I've been fascinated by weird stories that take place in New England.
As much as I love modern horror, I have to mention that there's nothing quite like reading beautifully written classic weird fiction and new stories that have been written in similar fashion. This kind of weird fiction is the best kind of horror for readers who want quality, atmosphere and good prose from their stories, because there's no substitute for good weird fiction and Lovecraftian cosmic terror.
The author's most imporant influences have most likely been H. P. Lovecraft, Edgar Allan Poe, William Hope Hodgson, Algernon Blackwood, Arthur Machen and other similar classic authors, because there's a deep gothic, supernatural and frightening feel to these stories that can only be found in classic weird fiction. All experienced readers will notice that the roots of these stories lie deep in classic weird fiction and the author owes a debt to the old masters, but he writes his own kind of weird fiction. In my opinion Daniel Mills understands what classic weird fiction means to readers and is extremely talented at creating a threatening and strange atmosphere that reminds readers of classic weird fiction. He boldly uses his own voice to tell weird stories and has plenty of imagination. No matter what he writes about - whether it be Lovecraftian weird fiction or other kind of weird fiction - he does it amazingly well and memorably.
Daniel Mills beautifully - and addictively - manages to infuse his stories with the same kind of despair and terror that readers have come to love in Lovecraft's stories. The prose in these stories is exceptionally beautiful, evocative and nuanced. The author's hauntingly literary writing style deepens the effect these sophisticated stories have on the reader and grabs the reader's attention and pulls him/her momentarily into a world gone by where people had different lives, values and habits. The eloquent prose and the descriptive sentences make these stories stand out among other similar stories and make for an excellent and unforgettable read. This kind of literary prose is one of the reasons why I consider weird fiction to be the one of best sub-genres of speculative fiction.
The characterization is excellent in these stories. The characters are surprisingly realistic and well-created characters, because there's nothing annoying or artificial about them. I was amazed by how genuine the characters and their feelings felt when I read these stories.
Many authors have written excellent weird fiction stories, but there's something about these stories that sets them apart from other stories. In my opinion, there's a wealth of emotional depth in a few of these stories that only Laird Barron and Richard Gavin have been able to match in some of their stories. This kind of weird fiction is rare or rather it feels like it's rare, because only a few modern authors are capable of writing this kind of stories.
Daniel Mills pays homage to Lovecraft's stories by writing about horrors and isolation in the New England countryside and towns. He reveals what kind of terrors lurk beneath a lush yet bleak and barren landscape. The New England that Lovecraft wrote about in his stories gets a fresh new look in this collection as Daniel Mills writes about the weird happenings that plague the countryside and evoke terrifying fear in the local inhabitants or in the visitors who wander to wrong places. He demonstrates that the New England countryside may look peaceful, but something horrifying may be born in the desolate and isolated areas. His respect and admiration of Lovecraft's stories and writing style can be found on every page of this collection.
In my opinion, Daniel Mills is one of the new masters of the weird and the supernatural. He may - for the time being - be an unknown author to many readers, but not for long, because he belongs to the small group of authors who genuinely know how to frighten and impress their readers with atmospheric weird stories. (I'm sure that all readers agree with me on this when I say that it's thrilling to find a new author who is capable of writing sophisticated weird fiction that is reminiscent of classic stories, because most new authors tend to focus mostly on modern weird fiction.)
Because I enjoyed reading this collection, I will definitely revisit it soon, and I look forward to reading more stories written by Daniel Mills. I haven't had a chance to read his debut novel, Revenants (Chômu Press, 2011), which he wrote a couple of years ago, but I've heard good things about it, so I intend to read it as soon as possible.
Before I write the final paragraphs of this review, I'll mention that the interior illustrations by M. Wayne Miller are beautiful. The cover art by Daniele Serra is also beautiful and impressively artistic.
Daniel Mills' stories are beautiful, dark, rich and disturbing, and he has a fantastic way of writing about New England and characters who find themselves allured and frightened by the supernatural happenings. The old and historical New England is broughtly vividly and terrifyingly to life in these stories. All the farmlands, cottages, derelict houses, meadows, fields and hollows are described in such a realistic and vivid way that it's impossible not to be fascinated by the rural atmosphere. These stories are just as good and memorable as all the classic weird fiction stories by Lovecraft, Blackwood, Machen and Hodgson, so do yourself a favour and read this collection as soon as possible. The Lord Came at Twilight is a short story collection that every Lovecraft fan should buy and read immediately without hesitation.
Daniel Mills' The Lord Came at Twilight is a stunning short story collection that boldly follows in the footsteps of H. P. Lovecraft and other writers of weird fiction, but stands proudly on its own feet and competes with the best stories in the field and even surpasses many of them. Dark Renessaince Books have done a huge favour for all readers of the weird by publishing this collection.
Very highly recommended - especially to all readers who love weird fiction and Lovecraftian eldritch horror!