Tag Archives: Stephen King

Dark Screams 6 Releases Tomorrow

Dark Screams 6
Brian James Freeman and Richard Chizmar, ed.
ebook $3.99

The Dark Screams series of ebook anthologies is back, and that’s something to scream about, joyfully of course.

This one has half a dozen selections, unlike its predecessors, which had only five.

Here’s what you get: Continue reading

A Review of Six Scary Stories

king15large_360x540Six Scary Stories
Selected by Stephen King
Cemetery Dance
hardcover $24.95 (with custom slipcase $49.90)
paperback $14.95
ebook $4.99

I’d already bought but hadn’t had a chance to read the electronic version of this book when a review copy showed up in the mail.  Cool.  Now I can read the book in either format.  Then I did a very foolish thing.  I, um, well…I put the book on my desk.  Where it disappeared.

I found it when I was moving things from the desk to the new bookshelf.  I dove right in and finished it in two or three nights.  Which isn’t bad with all the time constraints I’ve got at the moment, but is pretty slow compared to my regular reading rate.  (To give you an idea of how tight things are at the moment, I finished the book over a week ago and am just now getting a few minutes to sit down and write.)

In case you just fell off a turnip truck awoke from a coma and don’t know the genesis of this little anthology, Stephen King was asked by his British publisher to select a story in a contest the publisher was running to promote The Bazaar of Bad Dreams.   The publisher would select the final shortlist of six (from what turned out to be over 800 entries).  King would make the final selection from those.  King writes in his introduction that he had hoped to find one good story among the finalists.  What he found were six stories of publishable quality.  Hence, the anthology we’re discussing.  Here’s a quick summary of the contents: Continue reading

Dark Screams is Something to Scream About

Dark Screams v1Dark Screams Vol. 1
Brain James Freeman and Richard Chizmar, ed.
ebook only, $2.99
publication date December 9, 2014 preorder

I’d like to start off this review by thanking Brian James Freeman and Hydra/Random House for the review copy of Dark Screams Vol. 1. I had originally intended to review the book closer to the release date. I finished the first story while waiting for my son to get back from All Region Band tryouts and kept going. It turned out there were almost twice as many students trying out than were expected, so after 2 1/2 hours of waiting past the time they were supposed to be back, I had finished the book. I decided to write and post the review while the stories were fresh on my mind.

As you can tell from the title, this is the inaugural volume in a series.  There are currently five volumes planned, with more to come if sales and reader response are positive.

If the first volume is any indication, this should be a long-running series.  The editors have stated that each volume will have a variety of different types of horror from some of the top names in the business. Continue reading

The Shapes of Midnight by Joseph Payne Brennan

Shapes of MidnightThe Shapes of Midnight
Joseph Payne Brennan
Berkley, 1980
mass market paperback, $2.25, 176 p.
Introduction by Stephen King

Joseph Payne Brennan has sadly become one of the more neglected writers of fantasy and horror from the second half of the 20th Century.  Fortunately there are were copies of his work available at reasonable prices.  Which is why a couple of weeks ago, after I’d read about half the stories in this book, I bought them.  By reasonable prices, I mean in the $10-25 dollar range for used hardcovers.  (Brennan created an occult detective named Lucius Leffing; I managed to snag a signed collection of some of those stories.)

When I did a search on Advanced Book Exchange for The Shapes of Midnight, the cheapest copy I found (there were only 4 of them at the time) was nearly $60.  Ouch.  Continue reading

Turning Down the Lights

Turn Down the LightsTurn Down the Lights
Richard Chizmar, ed.
Cemetery Dance
trade hardcover $35
slipcased artist edition $75
traycased limited edition $750

Cemetery Dance has long been one of the major players in the horror and dark suspense fields. That’s true for the magazine and the publishing house. The first issue of the magazine Cemetery Dance was published just over 35 years ago.

To celebrate, Richard Chizmar has put together this little volume. It’s a great introduction to the type of thing you’ll find in the magazine as well as among the titles in their catalog.

In addition to an introduction by Chizmar and an afterward by Thomas Monteleone, there are stories by Stephen King, Norman Partridge, Jack Ketchum, Brian James Freeman, Bentley Little, Ed Gorman, Ronald Kelly, Steve Rasnic Tem, Clive Barker, and Peter Straub.

Some of the top names in the field. May favorite stories were by King, Freeman, Little, and Gorman. All of them were well-written. Not all of the stories are supernatural. The Gorman and Freeman entries especially dealt with more mundane terrors. In fact these two were some of the best short fiction I’ve read in the horror field.

There’s not a bad story in the book, and there’s something here for every taste.  This is the type of book Cemetery Dance excels at.  With Turn Down the Lights they’ve met and surpassed their own standards.

Adventures Fantastic would like to congratulate Cemetery Dance on 35 years of publishing some of the best dark fiction to be had and wish them another 35 years. If you haven’t read them, check them out.

Two Items of Halloween Interest

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.

HalloweenMagicMysMacabre-500I 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.

ShiversVIIThe 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.

A Visit to Duma Key

Duma KeyDuma Key
Stephen King
various formats

I started this novel back around the end of July or the beginning of August, I don’t remember which. I was wanting something I could sink my teeth in just for pleasure. I had (and still have, although the titles have changed) a fairly large stack of books for review. It was all starting to feel like work, and I was beginning to ask myself where the fun was in all of it. (This was during the same time period when I decided to make the move over from Blogger after Google decided I was a spam site.)

Stephen King has always been one of those writers that I connect with about 60=75% of the time. This one looked the most interesting of his titles I was considering. It concerned a single individual rather than a group of people. I ended up dipping into it off and on for a couple of months, hardly touching it after Worldcon until last week. The storyline was fairly straightforward, so it was one of those books you can pick up and put down, then come back to some time later without having to reread large portions to pick up the thread of the story.

The plot concerns a building contractor, Edgar Freemantle, who is injured in an accident at a construction site. He loses his right arm, along with suffering injuries to his head and right leg. In the process of trying to recover his health, he loses his marriage.

Searching for a place to heal, he rents a house on Duma Key off the Florida coast. There he discovers a latent ability to paint and draw. He also befriends an old woman, Elizabeth Eastlake, and her caregiver, Jerome Wireman.

It doesn’t take long for him to discover that his ability to paint can cause changes in the outside world. Elizabeth Eastlake also suffered a head injury as a child, and for a time she exhibited this same ability until she walked away from her art. The results for her weren’t exactly something a child would find comforting.

Now Freemantle thinks something has called him to Duma Key, something that wants him to finish what Elizabeth Eastlake started.

I thoroughly enjoyed this one. Duma Key isn’t a book you rush through in one or two sittings. Rather, it’s the kind of novel that you soak up and savor. Perhaps that was partly a function of my taking my time with it. Still, King brings Edgar Freemantle and Jerome Wireman to life. Elizabeth Eastlake is sinking deeper into senility, so we don’t get to know her as directly as we do the men. But she’s just as much a central character as Freemantle or Wireman.

There are secrets on Duma Key. Freemantle unpeels them just like an onion, much to his regret at times. King keeps them coming up to the very end.  Once or twice, he answered questions about the past that I only realized I’d been asking in hindsight.  There’s a heavy sense of tragedy hanging over the story, along with some creepy chills. This one has become one of my favorite King novels.  If you’re in the mood for a multilayered story, this is one you’ll want to consider.