My first encounter with Mr. Wyckoff’s Black Horse came whilst browsing a favorite local book haunt a few months back. My reasons then for not purchasing the beautiful hardback were both financial (as much as I love Tartarus Press, my limited income keeps the rate of their acquisition to a minimum) and the fact that I had never heard of the author before. So, regrettably, I passed. The following night, as I researched the book online, I discovered that it also existed as an e-book (a practice which Tartarus has undertaken as of late, and for which I am entirely grateful). While I am most definitely a book lover (in the physical, typeset, printed-and-bound sense), I always jump at the opportunity to get my hands on the words of an author, no matter the format.
It’s been a long while since I’ve read such an inspired collection of writing. I wish that my word alone held sufficient authority to encourage you to purchase Black Horse, but alas that is not how it works. Then again, I in no way wish to explain away even one of the tales, for that would deprive you of a series of fine experiences indeed. Suffice it to say, each of the tales contained within are uniquely original gems told in a masterful voice. Like Robert Aickman, Mr. Wyckoff has classed his fictions “strange stories”, and while the former would be the logical comparison, one is sure to sense the presence of many another past master. This is not to say that the author is concerned even remotely with pastiche. No, Mr. Wyckoff is a complete original.
This may be the first collection which I have read wherein each succeeding story seems to outdo its predecessor. This is not to say that the first tale is mere ordinary fare, while the last exceeds all powers of storytelling. It only feels that way, which just goes to show how well the collection is arranged. Perhaps, too, it has something to do with the masterful variety of viewpoints housed within. Additionally, there is a wonderful sense of ambiguity relayed at the end of many of the tales — allowing us to chew on the bit, as it were.
The fact that this is the author’s first collection, it is thrilling to imagine what future brilliance Mr. Wyckoff will bestow upon us. Any burgeoning writer interested in crafting their own “strange stories” would do well to read, re-read, and then continue an intimate study of Black Horse.