The turning of the year provides ‘Tales From The Black Meadow’ author Chris Lambert with the thematic basis for his new ‘Wyrd Kalendar’ compendium, a collaboration with illustrator and Folk Horror Revival creator Andy Paciorek. Each darkly spun tale matches with a chosen month of the year, providing a folkloric and portmanteau feel to the book, with Paciorek’s richly detailed and haunting artwork prefacing the individual chapters.
This work therefore takes us from the frostbitten and hungry underground denizen in January’s ‘The Resolution’ (a tale of Lovecraftian imagination with a conclusion that will stay with you long after you have closed the pages of the book) to the terrifying timeslips of ‘February 31st’, the ‘king for a day’ twists and turns of April’s chilling ‘Chasing The Gowk’ to the twisted and disturbed nursery rhyme of ‘May Pole’. As the wheel of the year spins increasingly faster the sense of the unsettling and macabre if anything increases, ‘June Bug’s hugely effective body horror is reminiscent of one of Nigel Kneale’s scripts from ‘Beasts’ whilst July’s ‘Grotto Day’ is a deeply unusual and disquieting take on the brownie or ‘little people’ legend. August’s ‘The Weeping Will Walk’ is distilled folk horror, both subtle and suggestive in what darkness lies within the village ritual; October’s ‘The Field’ continues this folkloric aspect to even bloodier and satisfyingly grimmer heights. There is a distinct filmic or theatrical quality inherent in these dread tales; one can easily imagine a number of these being either staged or filmed; never mind ‘A Ghost Story For Christmas’, how about ‘A Ghost Story For Each Season’? November’s pitch black poem ‘All Saint’s Day’ (where the blood almost drips from the page) and December’s festive yet foreboding ‘Santa Claus And The Witch’ bring the Kalendar to a fittingly horrific close; yet there is the distinct impression that the spectres and wraiths contained herein will undoubtedly start back at their practices as before, the cycle of the year bringing them once more to terrible and terrifying life.
For aficionados of folk horror, weird fiction (especially readers of Robert Aickman’s dark and unusual stories), of Lambert’s excellent previous outing ‘Tales From The Black Meadow’ and of Paciorek’s intricate and beautiful ink work this volume comes highly recommended. We all must keep and mark our time; why not do so with the Wyrd Kalendar?