Waiting for Midnight by Merrie Destefano is my favorite collection of short stories that I’ve read. Each story was unique, was told well, and had a satisfying ending. The collection consists of six short stories, two stories told in three acts, and eight flash fiction stories.
“Dog Boy,” the first of the short stories, tells the tale of a werewolf and of a priest’s struggle for redemption. The imagery makes you feel like you’re right there with the characters.
“In the Garden” is probably my favorite story in Waiting for Midnight. It’s told from an unusual point of view, but Merrie does an excellent job of getting the reader to identify with the main character. I was impressed with all the small details she thought of and the beauty and emotions she was able to evoke through her words. “In the Garden” explores life, death, and love from a new perspective, and it will really stick with you.
“Afterlife: Chasing Spring-Heeled Jack” is about Chaz from Merrie’s book Afterlife: The Resurrection Chronicles. It takes place in a future world where people can download into new bodies when they die. The world is well developed, with its own slang, laws, and technology. Despite all the new concepts and terms, it’s easy to follow what’s happening and get sucked into this fascinating, dangerous world.
“Feast: Learning to Hunt” is about the character Ash from Merrie’s book Feast: Harvest of Dreams. This story was another favorite of mine. I’ve found the Darklings from the book fascinating, so it was fun to be able to see more of their lives and how they work. In this story, Ash learns from his father how to hunt in seventeenth-century Amsterdam. The writing is beautiful and feels like the magic inherent in this story.
“Letters from Home” contains some of the most imaginative settings, characters, and situations in this collection. I loved all the unique ideas Merrie came up with for this story and she did a great job of describing everything and painting a clear picture in my mind. It’s a touching story of how far a mother’s love will go for her errant child.
“Waiting for Midnight” is a ghost story but not in the creepy sense. It has more of a wild, magical feel to it. It explores themes like passion and obsession and what comes of them. The imagery Merrie used in this story is lovely and vivid.
“Charlie Brown Doesn’t Live Here Anymore” is the first of the stories told in three acts. It’s a light-hearted, funny tale of a dog and a coyote shown from the animals’ perspective.
“The Great Gray Cubicle” captures the bleak outlook of a person trapped in a soul-wearying job. It’s told from the second-person point of view, and it’s done so smoothly that you hardly even notice.
“Thursday” begins the section of flash fiction in Waiting for Midnight. It imagines a time in our future where ominous changes are made to the world. “Breathtaking” draws you into the main character and the terrible things happening to him. “Dirty Jobs” is an imaginative envisioning of the entrance to hell. “Heads or Tails” sticks with the theme of the previous story, portraying a demon and his favorite way to torment the human he’s assigned to. “Rolling Away” is told from another unusual perspective, and once again, Merrie does a great job of portraying how that character might see the world. “Sentimental Ending” explores what ifs and has a fun twist to it. “Chiaroscuro” is all about images and lives up to its name amazingly well. “Just So” explores the life of an ordinary person, and the writing matches the title well in its preciseness.
Each of these stories is strong and draws the reader into its world and characters. They’re filled with beauty, magic, and emotion, and they all feature relatable characters, intricate settings, and satisfying—or intriguing—endings. If you’re looking for something that will immerse you in stories that capture your imagination, I recommend Waiting for Midnight.