Kids and horror have always been a favorite trope of mine. I'll cite the usual inspirations: King's The Body/Stand By Me and It, McCammon's Boy's Life, Bradbury's Something Wicked This Way Comes, Simmons' Summer of Night. These are all great, profound, important works. But now things are getting a little out of hand. Following the immense success of Stranger Things and the adaptations of King's It, a lot of writers and filmmakers are indulging in stories of kids on bikes facing horror. These stories are often set in a nostalgic setting.

I get it. I really do. Our fears are mostly formed when we are young, and most of us want to go back and re-experience the times of our lives when we still believed in magic and monsters.

One work that isn't as well known as it should be is Ed Gorman's Moonchasers. Gorman isn't exactly a horror writer, and Moonchasers isn't exactly a horror story. Still, I think it belongs on the same list as the classics I previously mentioned.

Moonchasers is the title novella of an Ed Gorman collection. It deals with a pair of adventurous 1950's teens who decide to explore an abandoned warehouse that is reputed to be haunted. They find no ghosts inside, but they do make a surprising discovery. A robber is holed up in the warehouse, nursing a bullet wound and possibly dying. Thinking that the robber resembles their cinematic idol Robert Mitchum, they unwisely decide to help the fugitive. This sets forth a catastrophic series of events that will alter their loves forever.

Gorman deals in hard emotion in all his fiction. Sorrow, loss, fallibility, aging, the balance of good and evil all play integral roles in his work. The worst of our natures are explored, but he does so with exquisite humanity.

Moonchasers is an outstanding novella and it's one that always gets a fervent nod of agreement when I bring it up to others who've read it.

The collection is rounded out with other first-rate stories. The Ugly File is one of Gorman's best-known short pieces. Out There in the Darkness was expanded into the novel, The Poker Club, and later adapted into a motion picture. Prisoners is the title story in a Gorman collection that is the very first book Cemetery Dance published.

Ed Gorman wrote some horror stories, but he is known better as an author of mystery-suspense and westerns. Yet he has been embraced by horror fans for the dark nature of his work, but also the essential decency that drives it.

We lost Ed Gorman in October 2016, and his many fans are still grieving. But his work lives on, and I recommend it whenever I can. Moonchasers and Other Stories is one of his best books. If you haven't read him, it is a perfect place to start.

Written by Mark Sieber

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