Scrying Stones & Dolmen & Others by Lee Brown Coye
Trade Paperback – Chiroptera Press – 2022 – 78 pages
Lee Brown Coye is highly regarded for his illustration work in Weird Tales and the iconic covers he created for Arkham House, and his distinctive style shaped the look of books that remain prized by collectors of horror and weird fiction. Discerning readers have long known of Coye’s storytelling—Karl Edward Wagner’s “Sticks” was famously based upon Coye’s written account of strange discoveries in rural Central New York—but rarely have they had the opportunity to read Coye’s own words. Cadabra Records introduced their listeners to Coye’s stories in two releases—Where’s Abby & Other Tales (2015) and Scrying Stones & Dolmen (2018), both read by Coye’s son, Robert, which opened the eyes and ears of fans to the tales of Lee Brown Coye.
The eighteen stories collected in Chiroptera Press’ Scrying Stones & Dolmen & Others, most for the first time, are less literary fictions than they are examples of American folklore, and it’s clear that one of Coye’s aims as a storyteller was to capture and record a moment of small-town New York history: a time before highway transportation replaced railways and canals, a time of horse-drawn hearses and hand-made coffins, when a dead body needed to be iced in the summer and graves couldn’t be dug in the winter. There was little need to fabricate the morbid when reality was harsh and grim enough.
These stories were scanned from clippings of “Chips & Shavings” and were corrected by Robert Coye before his death in June 2021, which makes this volume an authoritative edition of Lee Brown’s tales if there will ever be one. Mike Hunchback, who wrote and edited Pulp Macabre: The Art of Lee Brown Coye’s Final and Darkest Era, provides an insightful foreword that offers some background to Coye’s life and these stories and their relation to the Weird Tales circle, and the volume is complimented with Coye’s own black and white illustrations. Scrying Stones & Dolmen & Others is an important and long-needed collection in weird fiction, revealing Coye’s full talents as a storyteller who wrote tales based on the oral tradition of folklore, and steeped in regional horror and weird Americana. Absolutely essential for the reader and collector of horror fiction and anyone who loves a good ghost story!