“This collection brings with it all the trappings of the season, from pumpkins and spooky decorations, to that chill coursing over your skin in the night, and the lingering sense that death has come to claim many things, possibly the reader as well.”
The foreword by Robb Watts gives us a glimpse into Connecticut in autumn and its own brand of horror, deeply rooted in the atmosphere of the surroundings. We have a collection of both classic and contemporary writers in a cauldron of Halloween goodness. We begin with “Just Cause” by John Valeri. This story makes the reader recall the old saying ‘With nobody there is no crime’ but what happens when a man convicted of murder discovers that the so-called corpse is alive and well? Next we have “Dreams on Racks” by Melissa Crandall. In it a man gets the chance to help his horror idol who is trapped in a kind of purgatory. It’s reminiscent of Night Gallery, tales from the dark side or twilight zone, very suitable for the season of specters.
“The Californian’s Tale” by Mark Twain was originally published in 1902. It tells the story of our narrator making his way to California through rough terrain. He comes upon a little cottage and is invited in to stay by a man expecting his wife to be home soon. A party is given while he and three friends come to await her arrival; the trouble is they’ve been waiting nineteen years.
Next in line is, “Halloween Hubris” by Ryanne Strong, A grumpy old man refuses an invitation to a Halloween party but decides to go against everyone’s negative views of him and surprise them with his presence…but he surprise is on him. In “Time to Let Go” by Stacey Longo the reader meets Ben, he likes to roam the forest near his home and think about times gone by. He encounters a girl from his past, dressed as a bride and acting rather strange but it affirms that it is time to let go.
A ghastly Halloween tale is what “A Trick of a Treat” by Dan Foley truly is. It’s something to tell to your children around a low-burning campfire. There’s a warning in this story, be careful the treats you eat on Halloween and choose your costume wisely, you might get a nasty trick in return. “The Ghost in the Mill” by Harriet Beecher Stowe is a classic of ghostly horror, a man weathers a storm in an old mill with a drunkard when an unexpected visitor comes to prove that nothing can be hidden and in the end horrors can’t be buried. Elmer Munson’s offering is “What about that daughter of yours?” In it deals are made, and blood is shed. Halloween is the perfect night to cover up a murder but when plans don’t go as expected you better hope the one person who can help you is someone you haven’t neglected.
“Blood Relations” by Jon Valeri is about the queen of the Fall Ball being brutally murdered on Halloween, a year later the identity of the killer is still unknown. The suicide of a young man seems to point the finger at him but is it the truth? Did he really murder Amanda? It’s a longer story but well worth the read, it has a cinematic feel and plays out in the mind like a good slasher flick. “The Cellar” by Melissa Crandall tells the story of an abused child who seeks refuge in the darkness of a cellar, a place that the monster who tortures her won’t tread. In her time of need she discovers a new friend trapped inside of an old mirror, one that will teach the monster a lesson in torment. “Zombie Witch” by Stacey Longo gives the reader that classical Halloween feeling, another story to add to your campfire tales list. Molly gets a strange feeling about the old zombie witch Halloween decoration but won’t let her kids down, so she hangs it up. As the days pass she begins to realize she should have trusted her instincts.
“The Giant Wistaria” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman warns us that there are houses that must certainly be haunted, and deep within them the truth awaits. A haunting story, perfect for a Halloween read. Originally published in 1891, it’s just as powerful and frightening today as it was then. Next the reader is presented with “Crawl” by Kristi Petersen Schoonover, There are things that creep and crawl on Halloween night, and sometimes the most unsuspecting objects become truly threatening. “The Bag” by Dan Foley is about a bag in an antique store that is given to a boy as a gift, but is it something to be treasured or feared? On Halloween night he finds out. Next we have a poem, “Maniac’s Song” by John G.C. Brainard, a native of the nutmeg state and gifted in conveying the hopelessness of the mind.
We finish with “Sophie” by Ryanne Strong; we meet Katie who moves into a new apartment complex. She’s now thirteen and old enough to be home alone, she’s not allowed to answer the door when anyone knocks, but for Sophie she does. The little girl is different than most children her age, very different. A great story to round out the anthology.
The afterword by Stacey Longo explains the making of this collection; it was truly a craft of love for the genre and her state. She wove together a pleasing mix of stories that set the mood for Halloween.
Autumn, for so many, is the best time of the year. We wait patiently through the torment of summer to be rewarded with its cool breezes, the smell of it in the air and also the magic of Halloween. This collection brings with it all the trappings of the season, from pumpkins and spooky decorations, to that chill coursing over your skin in the night, and the lingering sense that death has come to claim many things, possibly the reader as well.
Publisher: Books and Boos Press
Release Date: 14 September 2016
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