Reading Night Owls is kinda like getting blood work done- the process is an entirely frightening affair but in the grand scheme of things it is so short lived that it barely registers. Charlie Morgan’s gory little tale of nighttime predators clocks in at about 2500 words and will take the average reader under 5 minutes to plow through. This would be fine for a piece in a collection but as a standalone story, well, it makes for a mildly frustrating read.
A sadistic serial killer, who has recently claimed his latest victim, travels through the winding mountain roads and celebrates his efforts He soon finds a beautiful young woman broken down on the side of the road that is just his type. The blood flows as time ticks away for the predator and the prey.
The story is a graphic take on the well worn stalker theme. Morgan is able to inject new life into this fairly predictable formula by toying with the reader’s notions of what makes a traditional “victim”. Think Crouch and Konrath’s Serial, but with a much more interesting twist and a slight gender analysis. This is some very interesting ground that Morgan is treading on, folks. Unfortunately just as the reader becomes completely engrossed in the story, it ends and we are left wanting, no, craving more.
Charlie Morgan is a very talented writer. He has an innate feel for pacing as he draws the reader into his blood soaked world. Night Owls is succinct, bypassing the superfluos prose that can often bog down a good story. Morgan commands his words for maximum impact leaving the reader afraid to read the next sentence. On a few occasions in Night Owls, Morgan’s quick hitting prose and grisly descriptions are reminiscent of the works of Laymon and Lee. Now don’t get me wrong, Morgan is not at the level of these genre masters but he does an admirable job flaunting his influences and making them his own.
Morgan obviously has some real writing chops. He knows how to build tension with quick hitting prose and his attention to every gory detail make for some very vivid images that I wish were explored a bit more. If Night Owls is the bloody appetizer that Morgan is presenting to the horror community than I am anxiously waiting at the table to see what grotesque offering he is preparing for the main course.