Reviewed by Raanan Geberer for Readers' Favorite
Tales of the supernatural have always fascinated readers, and famous authors who have written in this genre include Mary Shelley, Washington Irving, H.P. Lovecraft, Stephen King and many others. Dream Lover and Other Tales by RjCook follows admirably in this tradition, although most of his tales are somewhat less scary than those of the writers mentioned above. The title story, “Dream, Lover,” describes a young man who is fascinated by Ringwood Manor, a 19th century historic house in his area. One day, to investigate rumors of ghosts, he sneaks in to spend the night there after closing time. Something happens, he looks in the mirror — and he sees the face and period outfit of one of the original inhabitants of the house! Another story, “The Messiah of Harriman,” deals with a mysterious figure, looking like a homeless man, who appears suddenly at catastrophes, healing victims, curing their illnesses or, in one case, bringing them back from the dead, and then vanishes.
RjCook is an excellent short story writer, and I found myself reading every word. He often blurs the boundaries between the “real” world and the unreal. Even in those of his stories that don’t deal directly with the paranormal, you get the feeling that something is strange. "The Maestro’s Gift” is a story about a famous conductor coming to a small European town to give a performance, but the reader can’t help noticing that Italian, Russian and German names are thrown together indiscriminately. Cook’s characters are three-dimensional and realistic, and he obviously has a real love for his “territory,” which encompasses Rockland and Orange Counties in New York and northern New Jersey. The best collection of short stories I've reviewed for this site so far! On the whole, I give Dream Lover and Other Tales my enthusiastic approval.