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.
Here’s what the current volume contains:
Clive Barker leads off with a bittersweet ghost story, “The Departed”. Hermione is a newly dead woman who wants to make sure her son is doing okay without her. So she and her new friend Rice, who has a little more experience with being dead, set out to check up on him. Things don’t go quite as she expects. I really liked the ending of this one.
Mike, the central character of Lisa Morton‘s “The New War” is a veteran of World War II. He’s in a nursing home recovering from hip surgery. He notices there’s a black thing that follows one of the nurses around. It rides on her shoulder, and it’s alive. And sometimes it goes and sits on or near some of the other patients, and when it leaves, they are no longer alive. Mike knows he has one more war to fight. Morton does a great job with Mike, who may or may not be imagining things.
Ray Garton gives us a good dose of domestic terror when “Sammy Comes Home”. Sammy, in this case, is the family dog, beloved of ten year old Bryan. He’s disappeared recently, along with other pets in the neighborhood. Bryan is overjoyed when Sammy returns one rainy afternoon, but Sammy is injured and in pain. Pain he can’t help but share with everyone. Even though he would never harm his family, Sammy has brought something with him. And so have all the other pets that are coming home.
Ed Gorman‘s story, “The Brasher Girl”, is one I’ve read before. (Gorman is the only author in this volume that I’ve previously read, btw.) That’s okay, because Gorman is one of my favorites, and I don’t mind rereading his work. The longest story in the book, it’s narrated by a young man who has returned to his hometown in Iowa from a tour of duty in the Army. He meets a girl, Cindy Brasher, and even though she’s still in high school, they soon begin a torrid love affair. But Cindy is hiding secrets. See, there’s this old well outside of town. And down in the well there’s something evil. And it’s on a first name basis with Cindy.
“Creature Feature” by Heather Graham is ripping good fun. Set in a venue very much like Comicon, a Jack the Ripper display comes to life and begins to kill. Fortunately the ghost of one of the victims is able to communicate with one of a pair of what are essentially psychic investigators. This is a good thing because the investigator’s partner is locked into the exhibit hall after hours with Saucy Jack.
The Dark Screams volumes aren’t terribly long. You could finish one in an evening (if you have the nerve). Volume 4 hits electronic shelves today. Do yourself a favor, and pick it up.