I’d like to thank Brian James Freeman for the review copy of Halloween Carnival Volume Two. As anyone who has read many of Mr. Freeman’s anthology will know, he puts together a good set of stories.
This is the second of five Halloween themed anthologies, each released on a Tuesday, with the final volume becoming available on Halloween. You can read my review of the first volume here. I’ll attempt to review as many as possible by then.
Here’s a quick survey of the contents of this volume:
“Mr. Dark’s Carnival” by Glenn Hirshberg is the tale of a college professor who goes to visit a carnival that is something of an urban legend, if you could call a college town in eastern Montana urban. The carnival appears at Halloween, you see. It’s not a place you want to go.
A discovers years later an act intended to be a kindness has become a death sentence for his sister in Lee Thomas’s “The Facts in the Case of My Sister.” When a girl has been hypnotized not to see monsters in her closet or under the bed, she might not see monsters when she grows up and finds herself married to one.
In “Mischief Night” by Holly Newstein, tells the tale of a boy whose Halloween pranks go awry. He ends up in the basement of an old man’s house. The old man is bitter and scary, and the boy finds out that Halloween can involve scares from things other than ghosts and spooks.
“The Ghost Maker” by Del James is refreshing spin on a Halloween story. It’s a noir/crime story that just happens to take place on Halloween. At least the climax does. This was my favorite story in the anthology, in large part because it wasn’t the typical spooky Halloween story.
I’m halfway through the fourth volume as I write this, and I’ve noticed that the last half of the anthology is a novella rather than a short story. The novella for this volume is Al Sarrantonio’s “The Pumpkin Boy”. Sarrantonio has written a sequence of novels and stories set in the fictional town of Orangfield, which has made a name for itself with its pumpkins. While this story makes references to some of the other works, it’s not necessary to have read them to enjoy this one. It’s more science fiction than than supernatural, although you might have to suspend your disbelief just a little to buy some of the science. It won’t be hard to do that. This tale of a pumpkin boy who stalks the pumpkin fields and kidnaps children was not one I’d read before. It held my attention all the way through.
Halloween Carnival Volume Two is a solid collection of Halloween stories that should have something in it for everyone. With a price of $2.99, it’s a good buy and a great trick-filled seasonal treat.