Releasing July 28, 2015 from Tor Books is an exciting, authorized collection of 23 short stories called Midian Unmade: Tales from Clive Barker’s Nightbreed. The collection was edited by author Joseph Nassise and Del Howison, the co-founder and owner of Dark Delicacies Horror Book Store in Burbank, CA. Some of the authors included in this collection of never-before-published stories are Amber Benson, star of Buffy, the Vampire Slayer; five-time Bram Stoker Award winner Nancy Holder; and David J. Schow, screenwriter of The Crow and Leatherface: Texas Chainsaw Massacre III. Barker himself wrote and directed the film version of Nightbreed, which was based on his own novel Cabal, and which finally saw a director’s cut DVD release last year.
The stories in Midian Unmade take place after the events of the film. The monsters known as the Nightbreed who survived the fall of Midian have scattered all over the country–some in groups, some alone–looking for a place where they can feel safe. Some still hold out hope that Cabal will eventually gather them all together in a new Midian, while others are just trying to survive in a world where they are often not welcome.
What is wonderful about this collection is that the stories are well-balanced in their handling of the material. Nightbreed was about how humans were more evil than the monsters of Midian, and some of the stories follow this vein. Though the stories all have different writing styles and tones, many of them are remarkably similar in how the authors show how discerning the Breed are. They show disgust and disdain for humans that rape and murder, and sometimes punish them accordingly. Still others though, like Benson’s story “Pride,” see the Breed connecting more with evil humans because they have simply embraced themselves as the monsters that everyone sees them to be. A couple of the entires explore how horrible the Nightbreed are treated when they actually try to assimilate with the “Naturals,” or humans. They find temporary solutions for this by performing as circus freaks, as in the stories “Cell of Curtains” and “The Angel of Isisford,” but are eventually confronted with the ignorance and violence of humans and must flee.
But not every story in Midian Unmade is doom and gloom. Some of the best entries in the collection are those that show how the Breed can actually make connections with humans who are not Breed, but who are also not like “normal” humans, either. There is a real sense of hope and enlightenment in these tales that provide a sense of comfort in the reader. In “The Night Ray Bradbury Died,” a Breed named Iblis meets a young girl whose face was disfigured by fire, and gains an understanding of her loneliness and pain, which is similar to his own. The opening story, “The Moon Inside,” follows young Babette (saved by Lori in the film) as she longs for a new Midian but instead only finds a group of disenfranchised youth who feel like outsiders, as well. It is disappointing for her, but all too real for anybody who has ever felt like an outsider and needed a place to call home.
My personal favorite story was “Button, Button” by Ernie W. Cooper. This entry brilliantly ties in an element of the film by having one of the Breed, Simon, obsessed with collecting buttons. At the siege of Midian, Simon’s brother Alexander was killed in front of him by the “Button Man,” Decker, and the image of Decker’s creepy mask with the buttons for eyes has haunted him ever since. The story is also a great example of the Breed’s ability to connect with humans, as Simon finds a kindred spirit in Elliot, a young boy with his own obsession with counting, a boy whom is misunderstood by his mother and bullied by other kids. There is no judgment between the two of them, only understanding and compassion.
With its diverse collection of monsters and their equally diverse outlook on their new world after the fall of their sanctuary at Midian, Midian Unmade is a wonderful companion piece to Cabal and Nightbreed, and a must-read for any fan of either. The stories are well-placed within the anthology (they definitely could not have made a better choice for the closing story) and all of them offer a unique take on the mysterious world of the Nightbreed, and the heartbreak and despair that can be felt by anyone, including monsters.