The Last Call of Mourning

Charles L. Grant
The Last Call of Mourning Cover

The Last Call of Mourning


Oxrun Station must be an interesting place to live. Whatever forces of the supernatural exist, they're making quite an effort to break through and take over that town. That people choose to remain there from one book to another is, frankly, astounding. I'm not sure I would have the wherewithal to stick around a place that was trying that hard to get rid of all the people living there.

This time around, Cynthia "Cyd" Yarrow has returned from an extended trip to Europe, and as she settles back into her home with her parents and siblings, odd things start to happen. Her mother takes a big fall, but has no injuries, other than a bloodless cut. Her father appears to be dead one evening, but the next day he's up and moving around like nothing happened. Valuables go missing, and no one seems to care. All of it together adds up to a creepy atmosphere that, for the first time in a Grant novel, pays off by the end.

Of all the Grant novels I've read so far, this one has the closest structure to a traditional novel. It doesn't end quite as abruptly as the previous four, and there's more of an explanation given as to why events unfolded like they did. There's more closure to the conclusion, which I prefer to the way his previous books ended. That's not to say that Grant doesn't make the effort to include a twist ending similar to what he's done before, but at least this time we get more of a reason why everything happened. The rest, though, is the usual Grant style, with a slow build-up to the end of the story, and with the same sorts of characters populating it.

I read an e-book edition of the book that was included in a collection titled A Haunting of Horrors, Vol. 2, and the formatting was terrible. There were certain words and passages that were italicized that didn't make much sense to be that way, missing periods, extraneous commas, and the like. There was even at least one page missing, with one sentence merging perfectly with another, but going from narrative to dialogue at some point in the middle, and taking me from one location to another at the same time. I don't know if the standalone e-book does the same thing, but they're published by the same company, so be forewarned. I don't think I missed too much of the story in that jump, but it was annoying, to say the least.

At this point in his career, Grant had established himself as a writer, and was already being known as a master of his so-called "quiet horror". With this book, though, I think he started to veer back toward more traditional storytelling, just with his unique style. That's my guess, at least; I guess future readings of his books will prove me right or wrong.