Tales From the Parkland is a strong example of the variety available within horror and dark fiction and is one of the reasons I enjoy dipping into an anthology. Not only is it a good way of experiencing an authors work for the first time, but it also allows a certain creative flexing of muscles that aren't confined within a singular tale. The mystery of not knowing what the next story will contain adds to the experience. McGillvrays stories highlight this. One moment you could be reading about werewolves, the next, the end of the world from the perspective of a child in daycare, and then the bond between siblings during a mysterious storm.
Opening tale The Garbage Collectors was one of my favourites- in which a family moves into a new town that hides a dark secret. Sometimes, sacrifices need to be made.
Whilst it was a self-contained story, it also felt like a slice of something much larger; and could easily be part of a much grander tale.
A few of the stories had this feeling about them. They worked as they were whilst also feeling as if they were part of a larger world.
The real highlight for me was Underneath the Stairs. It was one of those stories that resonated. Something I found doubly impressive considering it is only a few pages in length. It managed to be light-hearted, charming, fun and dark all at the same time. When I had finished Tales From the Parkland, I went back and read Underneath the Stairs once more. Not just because I enjoyed it so much, but because I thought it would be a story my kids would get a kick out of too.
As with any short story anthology, you may encounter the odd tale that doesn't quite hit the spot. It's the nature of the beast, but I had a great time with most of them.
The stories in Tales From the Parkland are separate, stand-alone tales. Although, there is something that does crop often regularly - crows. In almost every tale a crow is mentioned. Not as part of the plot, but one will be there, somewhere. Sitting on a rooftop or perched on a branch. I think there was only one story in which I didn't notice the presence of a crow somewhere, and I found myself enjoying it when one appeared. They didn't feel shoehorned in or repetitive, and when I came upon one, I had a moment similar to finding Wally (or Waldo, depending on where you live) only, this time hidden in a well-written horror tale.
And that brings us to the bonus novella Harmony.
A story of a science experiment let loose upon the world and of two snipers (one still in service, one retired) trying to survive.
It was a story that I shouldn't have liked, as it followed a path I felt very familiar with, and although the creatures weren't zombies, it followed the beats of a zombie tale closely. And yet, I enjoyed it. Ronald's writing elevated Harmony to something more than the formulaic story it could have been. The only downside for me was I would have liked a bit more world-building. I wanted more information on the creatures. For example, did anything govern their appearance, or was it purely random?
Tales From the Parkland is worth buying. It has a variety of dark stories, with topics ranging from corrosive storms to monsters lurking in the dark to small-town secrets. I found it to be a fast read, but one that stuck with me, and I'm looking forward to reading more from Ronald McGillvray in the future.
And on Amazon UK
You can also find out more about Ronald McGillvray by clicking here to go to his website - just watch out for the crows.