Book Review: Cemetery Dance Select: Tim Waggoner

“Waggoner has put together a great collection of darkness that is sure to entertain.”

In this collection of some of Tim Waggoner’s best short stories, the reader gets a good taste of what the author can do and what they can expect of his other writing. It’s nice to see the progression and variety of a writer’s work, where they came from and the path their career has taken. Waggoner’s has obviously done very well, with an impressive count of published works, including movie novelizations, accolades and awards, and after reading this you will find they are all well deserved.

Cemetery Dance is a pinnacle for many writers, the top of the list for publications and after experiencing these three stories it will be no great wonder to the audience as to why Waggoner has been published by them on six occasions. From the twisted tale of a man becoming his violent childhood hero to all out existential madness, Waggoner has put together a great collection of darkness that is sure to entertain.

First, ‘Mr. Punch’. After visiting a renaissance fair as a child a man becomes obsessed with the rambunctious and not so moral puppet, Mr. Punch. He acts out the short puppet show in not only his memory but in real life, slaying quite a few “Judies” much to the delight of his invisible audience, but the devil is following Mr. Punch and soon he’ll catch up to the delusional killer.

In ‘The Tongue is the Sweetest Meat’, an accident occurs on a snowy road. Tom is usually a push over, and is in the middle of being verbally abused by the man he crashed into when he meets someone from his past. It’s quite odd since this visitor is dead and has been for quite a while. The dead man, Donald, urges him to reveal his true nature, to become his true self. See, Tom has a hidden urge to taste something that most would find truly unspeakable, something Donald has indulged in, and Donald understands that desire.

With ‘The Great Ocean of Truth’, a man stops in for a cup of coffee on the way to picking up the most precious thing to him, his daughter. Things begin to take a dark twist, he hallucinates, as he believes. After recent heart troubles he is reminded that life leads only to an inevitable end; death. Existential horror fans will enjoy this one greatly.

Readers are treated to an afterword by the author who describes each story and its inspiration, giving insight into his mind and the minds of many creative’s of how they get the ideas that culminate in their work. Those who are dreaming of becoming writers or are on the path of publication will find this both interesting and inspiring to read. There is also a listing of where the stories were originally published, Zebra Books, Cemetery Dance and Post Mortem Press, a very impressive record right there. It’s a short read, only three stories and then the accompanying details about the tales included which is really perfect for someone looking for entertainment during a commute or waiting in line at the doctor’s office or motor vehicle department because being tossed into some horrific fictional world is far better than being subjected to the actual hell of the real world or any one of those places mentioned. Horror can be a savior, folks!

Tim Waggoner is not a new name. He mentions in the afterword for ‘Mr. Punch’ that the anthology, Young Blood, was to showcase new and emerging writers under the age of thirty and at the time of this collection being published he is fifty one. That equals decades of polishing his craft and perfecting his voice. He just won the Bram Stoker Award for ‘The Winter Box’ and has been published by the likes of not only Cemetery Dance but also Dark Fuse, Angry Robot and Titan Books. His work spans genres and has garnered a great following of rabid horror readers but he is also a generous teacher and mentor of the craft. He has led many young writers to find their own voices and their own career paths in the genre, ensuring that his legacy will go beyond the stories people love so much, helping to keep horror alive by nurturing its future.

                                                                                            MICHELLE GARZA

Publisher: Cemetery Dance Publications
eBook (55 pp)
Release date: 12 April 2017

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