A Look at Halloween Carnival Volume One

Halloween Carnival, Volume One
Brian James Freeman, ed.
ebook only $2.99

I’d like to thank Bryan James Freeman for the review copy of Halloween Carnival, Volume One.  This is the first of five volumes.  It was published on October 3 of this year (2017).  The remaining volumes will be published a week apart.  As of this writing the third volume dropped yesterday.  I hope to be able to read and review all of them before Halloween.

If the packing on the book reminds you of the Dark Screams series, that shouldn’t be surprising.  They from the same publisher and have the same editor. If you’ve read any of that series, then you know they are going to contain some quality fiction.

Here’s what you get with this volume.

Robert McCammon leads off with the book’s only reprint. The rest of the stories are original to this volume. At least they seem to be. They are all copyrighted 2017. McCammon’s story, “Strange Candy”, concerns an unusual piece of candy a man finds in his daughter’s Halloween loot.  You would think with a premise like that, the author is going to do something sinister. McCammon defies expectations and takes the story in a different direction, on that blends spooky and scary with the uplifting.

A priest newly home from serving in the military in the Middle East decides to hear confessions on Halloween in Kevin Lucia’s “The Rage of Achilles or When Mockingbirds Sing”.  The priest hears a confession much different from anything he expected.  Like McCammon, Lucia blends spooky with uplifting.

The protagonist of John R. Little’s “Demon Air” flies the unfriendly skies.  Here a woman taking an international flight finds that it’s been hijacked on Halloween by some very unusual terrorists.

“La Hacienda de los Muertos” by Lisa Morton takes us south of the border to Mexico in the 1950s where a movie cowboy whose career is in a nosedive has agreed to take a role in a Mexican horror film in an attempt to resurrect his dying career.  Unfortunately his career isn’t the only thing that dies. It turns out the location they’ve chosen to shoot most of the movie is haunted by the spirit that inspired their movie.

The last story is a blend of horror and mystery and his about half the book. Mark Allan Gunnells encourages us to “#MakeHalloweenScaryAgain”. Or rather a struggling horror writer does.  But when he posts that hashtag on his blog, it goes viral in a way he never expected.  I figured out who the killer was fairly easily in this one, and while I wasn’t completely satisfied with the resolution, I still enjoyed the story.

Overall, Halloween Carnival Volume One was a fun bag of treats with few unpleasant tricks and plenty of nice surprises.  Which is how Halloween should be.

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