The Auld Mither – William Meikle
Reviewed by Steve Stred
This is what a masterclass in creepiness looks like.
I can’t count the number of times people have recommended reading William Meikle. Maybe it’s because they assume we know each other? After all, I live in Canada and he lives in Canada, so our igloos must be close right? I kid. (Just to show I’m joking, I live in Alberta, Mr. Meikle lives in Newfoundland. That’s 3700kms or 2230 miles apart. Our igloos don’t get that big up here.)
I must admit sheepishly that this is my first time reading anything from Meikle. I got his collection Home From the Sea recently, and have it coming up soon, but never dived into one of his books until now.
At only 53 pages long, The Auld Mither will leave a much longer impression on you. I could have easily read this in one sitting but found I needed to let it sit and digest the story at about 50%. When I finished this story I could’ve sworn I read a 300 page novel. As a side note here – it appears as though The Auld Mither has been released once before and this is now a re-release through Unnerving with new artwork. I’m really glad to see this come up again, otherwise I may have missed this gem buried deep in Meikle expansive back catalog.
The story itself is straight forward. A man who owns an Abattoir (British phrase for slaughterhouse) in Scotland is struggling between the decision to remain hands on, or become a mechanized/automated facility.
Then an extremely grisly murder occurs.
His kids are summoned back to the family home to settle his estate. His daughter loves him dearly but his son has long ago parted ways from caring about his father and is only there out of necessity not sympathy.
It’s here where Meikle splits the story between the detective investigating this horrendous incident and the son coming to terms with his father.
The main part of this story though is the use of the Scottish urban legend, the Auld Mither. Much like the folklore character Pesta from Scandinavian countries, the Auld Mither is an old hag or crone that is trying to protect and keep peace within the country. A vicious version of Mother Nature, if you will.
There were a number of scenes that left me with the feeling of my skin scrawling and at one point I heard a scraping noise from our kitchen while everyone was asleep. Turned out just to be our recycling bag slowing falling over. I say this to illustrate just how deft Meikle is at creating an atmosphere that scared the hell out of me, with no extra fat in his words.
This was an easy 5 star read and I highly recommend it to everyone.
Star Rating (out of 5): 5*
The Auld Mither
The Auld Mither, a crone-like hag with razor sharp bones for fingers, is killing off the proponents of a new abattoir in a deer farming community. And Dave Duncan seems to be next on the list. Can he figure out how to stop her? Or will he have to pay for the sins of his father?
Steve Stred is an up-an-coming Dark Horror author. Steve is the author of the novel Invisible, the novellas Wagon Buddy, Yuri and Jane: the 816 Chronicles and two collections of short stories; Frostbitten: 12 Hymns of Misery and Left Hand Path: 13 More Tales of Black Magick.
Steve also has a number of works on the go and enjoys all this horror, occult, supernatural and paranormal.
Steve Stred is based in Edmonton, AB, Canada and lives with his wife, his son and their dog Oj.
You can follow Steve on Twitter @stevestred
You can visit Steve’s Official Website here
The Girl Who Hid In The Trees
Something lurks just beyond.
Centuries ago a heinous act created a ripple that still haunts the residents to this very day.
Now the kids who reside near McConnell’s Forest live forever in fear.
Jason lost his brother when he was young. He left with his friends to ‘debunk’ the urban legend and never came back.
Now Jason and his group of friends are fed up and want to discover what is happening, what is the real cause of the terror holding their small town hostage.
But something is waiting for them. She may look sweet and innocent, but the friends are about to find out that pure evil can exist in the smallest of packages.
She’s out there. And while you may not know her name or what she looks like, the local kids will tell you if you ask, that you should fear for your life from the girl who hid in the trees.
From the dark mind of Steve Stred, the author of Wagon Buddy, YURI and Invisible comes this fast-paced, seat of your pants coming-of-age tale. A quick, violent, bleak read, The Girl Who Hid In The Trees will make you think twice about those sounds you hear far off in the woods.