So this is the fifth volume of Dark Screams I’ve reviewed. I’d like to thank Hydra Books, Brian James Freeman, and Richard Chizmar for the review copy.
Once again, there are five stories in the volume. Unlike the previous installments in this series (long may it continue), not all of the stories were to my taste. They were all well-written, but I’m not the audience for all of them. Those of you who know my taste can use that as a guide as to whether you would enjoy the stories.
Cemetery Dance has over the last few years published a number of Halloween themed short stories in ebook form. (They all have the same cover illustration you see here with different text.) I reviewed some of them a couple of years ago and enjoyed all the ones I read. Richard Chizmar, in addition to being a top-notch editor, is also a writer.
The night before Halloween is known in many parts of the country as Devil’s Night. In the story of the same name, a small town high school teacher is alone in the parking lot of an abandoned rural post office on Devil’s Night. He’s worrying about things and is taking advantage of the solitude to think. Then a car pulls up in another part of the lot.
The Phantom of the Opera gets out, throws up repeatedly, then takes a body from the trunk. After disappearing into the woods for a brief time, the Phantom returns to his car and leaves, completely unaware that he’s been observed. Continue reading →
Dark Screams Vol. 4
Brian James Freeman and Richard Chizmar, ed.
Hydra, a Division of Random House
ebook only, $2.99
I’d like once again to thank Brian James Freeman for putting me on his list of reviewers for eARCs of the Dark Screams series. These quarterly anthologies are turning out to be among the most consistent and enjoyable anthology series on the market.
Each volume contains five different stories by five different authors. The contents vary in style and theme, as well as subgenre of horror. They are a great way to sample new authors without shelling out the cash for an entire book or to simplyl enjoy a new story by an old favorite. And at $2.99 each, Dark Screams is one of the best values on the horror market.
I’m buried under a mountain of grading, so there won’t be any post on Robert E. Howard’s horror stories tonight. Tomorrow doesn’t look too promising, but I’ll see what I can do.
I did, however, want to make you aware of a couple of items of seasonal interest. First, I’m reading Paula Guran’s Halloween: Magic, Mystery, and the Macabre from Prime Books. The review is for Amazing Stories (TM) and will go live on Monday. It’s the sixth installment of a series I’m been running over there I’m calling Six Weeks of Scares. I’ll be sure and post the link here when the review goes live. I’m about halfway through the book at the moment, it’s quite good.
The other item is one from Cemetery Dance. It’s the latest installment in the Shivers anthology series edited by Richard Chizmar. I received a copy of the ARC through Cemetery Dance’s ARC club earlier this year. I’ve read a few of the stories, and the ones so far are top notch. There are a couple of rare stories in this one. One is “Weeds” by Stephen King, which hasn’t been reprinted since 1979. The other is a story by Clive Barker that was originally published in the New York Times on October 30, 1992. I haven’t read those yet. I’d hoped to have this collection finished by Halloween, but I probably won’t make it. I will review it early in November if things go as planned. They rarely do, but I can dream.
This one came out last year, and I’ve only read a few of the stories in it. Nor do I plan to read all of them, at least not this year. I’ll take my time with this one and spread it out over several years. In other words, this is more of an FYI post than a full-on review. However, I’ve been impressed enough by the contents so far to feel I should bring this one to your attention.
First of all, this is a reprint anthology, and there is one difference between the print and electronic editions. That’s the inclusion of Ray Bradbury’s “The Halloween Game”, which isn’t in the electronic edition. Now if you recall, I have a very high regard for Bradbury, but I wish he hadn’t been so stubborn about electronic rights. “The Halloween Game” is a story that deserves to be in this book.
Even without Bradbury’s contribution, the table of contents is impressive. The stories I’ve read include “Night Out” by Tina Rath and “On a Dark October” by Joe Lansdale. Both are worth the read. I”ll dip into this one again, at least to reread “Hornets” by Al Sarrantonio, which takes place in his fictional town of Orangefield. I’ve just started reading one of the Orangefield novels, and it makes reference to the events in “Hornets”.
October Dreams Richard Chizmar and Robert Morrish, ed. Roc trade paper, 656 p., oop, various prices second hand
This one came out ten years ago (I think there was an earlier limited edition), and it’s been almost that long since I read it. It contains a mix of memoir, reprint, and what at the time was new. I don’t remember all of the stories well enough to try to do a full review, but this is one anthology I intend to revisit, something that doesn’t happen with much of what I read. I probably won’t get to it this year since the library is still in a state of disarray since the move, but I recommend this book if you come across a copy or want to order it online. It’s got some great stories in it. Like Halloween, this is another anthology that’s perfect for dipping into on a evening when there’s a nip in the air and you’re not sure if the sound you hear is a branch scraping against the window in the wind or something else.