I first met Steven Wedel at a Horrorfind Convention. I believe that it was in 2003. I was at a table in the dealer's room, buying a book from Gary Braunbeck. Steven was sitting there with a stack of his novel, Shara, in front of him. I had never heard of Steven E. Wedel at that point, but I felt sort of bad seeing him sit there while I bought a book from a guy right next to him. I picked up a copy of Shara and glanced over at some of the blurbs on the back cover. Now we all know that blurb writers are usually about as as honest as politicians, but some trustworthy names were on it and I took a chance.

To be honest, Shara sat on my shelf for quite some time. I was (ridiculously) buying a lot of books at that point and I simply did not have the adequate time to read them all. But one day I decided to pick up Shara and see what this Wedel guy was all about.

I more than half expected to be disappointed. Already by that point I was getting accustomed to starting books and getting a few chapters in, only to put the book back down in boredom. But Steven Wedel surprised me. With Shara, he took one of the genre's oldest cliches, the werewolf, and made it fresh. Shara introduced me to a lycanthrope mythology that was tightly written, with good characters and professionally written prose. Entertaining, but not frivolous. Clearly, this guy was and is a writer.

Since then I've followed the writing career of Steven E. Wedel with great enthusiasm. He has further explored his werewolf mythos in other books and stories and last year saw the publication of a ghost story, Seven Days in Benevolence. Now we have another story of haunting from Wedel and at first you might think it will be a rather silly story. By the title of this review, you know that it is called Little Graveyard on the Prairie. Readers expecting a spoof of Laura Ingalls Wilder will be surprised by what they find in its pages.

As I indicated above, Little Graveyard on the Prairie is a ghost story. A story of a haunting. But haunting can bring up different types of infestation. Someone can be haunted by their past, by their faltering brain, and also by the spirits of the restless dead.

A lonely man lives on a failed farm. He has lost his wife and daughter long ago and he is using his now-useless land as a graveyard for people that wish their loves ones to have a resting place away from society. The man is troubled by the spirits of those that lay resting on his property. ye the may be fooling himself as well as his clients in regard to what he is actually doing with the remains.

Little Graveyard on the Prairie takes place in Oklahoma, the state that Steven Wedel calls his home. He seems to know the land he describes in intimate detail. It's in his blood, apparently. I sense a personal kinship between the writer and the soil in the story. The soil in Little Graveyard on the Prairie is richly described, but as another good writer once noted, "The soil of a man's heart is stonier". In Wedel's story, the land is barren and the soil of the lead character's heart is also dead.

Little Graveyard on the Prairie is a relatively short piece, at least in its word count. But the ache of loneliness and despair in it runs deep. To make up for the brief length of the story, Bad Moon Books has put two older short stories by Steven E. Wedel in the publication. Both Reunion and Nocturnal Caress are short, terse, deeply disquieting stories that round out this book, adding to its collectible value.

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