Stephen Barnard's Mordenhof is a short but effective trio of stories, each of them putting a subtly horrific twist upon the fantasy genre. The world of Mordenhof is one of dark magic, darker monsters, and darkest deceptions.
In Sigdom’s Idol, a cursed dagger turns already uneasy allies against one another, eroding what little desperate trust exists between them, and putting them at the heart of a battle that extends deep into the spiritual world.
In Dead Meat, a group of condemned men are offered a chance at survival, if they can just make it through the night and across the haunted ruins of Mordenbald. It's a tragic tale, one where hope seems to triumph against all odds, but where a cruel twists adds a note of finality.
In Uraboh’s Curse, nothing and nobody are quite what they appear to be, with the rescue of a young boy proving to have unintended - and potentially world-shattering - consequences.
At just over 40 pages, the three stories can (and probably should) be read in a single sitting, as the shared world, themes, and atmosphere links them nicely together. Although definitely dark, the inclusion of a little morbid humour manages to keep the collection from being depressingly grim, giving it a guilty-pleasure kind of edge instead. Here's hoping Barnard has another volume to offer up soon.