Dark Screams, Vol. 7
Brian James Freeman and Richard Chizmar, eds.
The Dark Screams series is one of the best horror anthologies out there. I’d like to thank Brian James Freeman for the review copy of this volume.
The earlier volumes in this series tended to feature five stories. This one has six, and I liked all of them. Some of the stories are reprints, but not all. The copyright page of the review edition lists four of six as having copyrights of 2017. The mix of new and reprint stories is a good format.
“Lizardman” by Robert McCammon is a good old fashioned monster story about an alligator hunter who sets out to bag the legendary gator that always gets away. He discovers there are greater dangers in the swamps than just gators. While the ending wasn’t a huge surprise to me, I really liked the execution of this story. The only other McCammon story I’ve read so far was “The Deep End” in Volume 2. I really liked that one as well. I’ll be reading more McCammon; I like the cut of his jib.
“A Monster Comes to Ashdown Forest (In Which Christopher Robin Says Goodbye)” by James Renner deals with just what you think it would from the title. This is a dark take on the Winnie-the-Pooh. It won’t be for everybody. I thought Renner handled the topic well and with sensitivity.
Kaaron Warren’s “Furtherest” tells the story of a family who spends summers in a beach house. When they were kids, they would dare each other to see who would go the furtherest into the dunes behind the house, even though they had been warned not to. As adults, they discover there were good reasons for those warnings. This one had a slight flavor of M. R. James to it.
Brian Hodge’s “West of Matamoros, North of Hell” had the most graphic violence. The members of a band go to Matamoros to shoot publicity shots where children were ritually murdered by a cult. They discover that the cult is still active and practicing sacrifices. Hodge does a good job of making you care about the central character, but this one wasn’t really my cup of tea.
“The Expedition” by Bill Schweigart concerns an expedition to Hungary just before or during the early days of World War II. The Third Reich is hunting archaeological evidence to support the government approved racial narrative. The members of the expedition soon discover something is hunting them. This is one of the new stories in the book, and I hope it’s the first of a series. I really enjoyed it.
Mick Garris has the final tale, “Snow Shadows”. It concerns an American art teacher at a British boarding school. When the drama teacher commits suicide after they have an affair, a young boy seeks to avenge her. Garris does a great job of making you wonder if the ghost is real or only a figment of the boy’s imagination. This is a character driven story, and Garris does a masterful job of showing multiple viewpoints.
Dark Screams Volume 7 continues the high level of quality we’ve seen so far in this series. There are three more volumes of this series, and I’m looking forward to reading them.