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3 1/2 stars but I'm rounding up. Don't ask me to rate each individual story because I am far too lazy.
The cover? Oh how, it haunts me. Those must be demon tails, right? Otherwise I can’t deal. This is a short story collection of 16 horror and horror-ish tales narrated by Nelson Pyles. He has a down to earth every man sort of tone that kept me listening and he does a great job with the voices, never sounding forced or mechanical or too deadly serious.
The last thing Ellen remembers was walking her dog. Now her head hurts and she’s locked in a cage. As she gets her wits about her, she realizes that she is not alone and that she is in a dungeon . . . This is a crazy tale of tale of survival. Having recently read King’s Revival, I have to say this one gave me the creeps. Ugh, those images will forever be burned into my memory.
This is a straight up western revenge tale and, to be real, it just wasn’t my thing. A man walks into a bar to avenge the death of his crew. Death happens. I enjoyed the narrator’s work with the different voices but I’m not a big fan of this kind of thing.
This one is more my style. Percy is tired of the tedium of “ordering out”. It’s more fun when he can lure his meal into his lair. This story is more light-hearted than the previous two.
Perfect Little Hands
Yikes, this one is the darkest of the bunch so far. A man is grieving over the coffin of his dead step-daughter. He’s filled with jealousy and rage and as the story unravels he’s revealed to be the king of all creepy-ass step-daddies.
A journalist scores an interview with a convicted killer who tells him a strange story he never expected to hear. This is a crazy tale about childhood atrocities, a handicapped boy and perhaps a monster. This was one odd little tale that made complete sense in the end.
Gerald is a disturbed man. He has mommy issues and baby issues and he’s a bit of a mess but he’s managed to hide it from his wife until she reveals to him his worst fear come true and then everything unravels. I wish this one had been longer. I would’ve liked to have read all of the gory details.
What is wrong with me?
Twist of Pain
Sarah is unstable and she may or may have not have just kidnapped a baby. I figured out where this one was going long before the reveal but I grew up watching too many creepy tv shows and had a mom who (view spoiler)I’m hoping your childhood was different.
A couple plan a peaceful summer at a remote cabin in the woods. They probably should’ve stayed home. Hubby goes out for groceries and returns to find something terrible has happened but the worst is yet to come. This was a fun kind of cabin in the woods meets something other than hillbillies mash-up.
In the Shadow of the Equine
A man and his boy only want to spend some time bonding over majestic horses but instead they find themselves stranded on an island inhabited by deranged folks. This one has a bit of Alien/Lovecraftian inspired flair, great tension and some fabulous atmosphere. It was one of my favorites in the collection.
Sally suffers from a distressing hair disease that causes scabs and major hair fallout and requires obsessive brushing. She fears that she may have passed it along to her daughter. Her fear and anxiety are painful to witness but it’s obvious to see what the real “affliction” is here. Ew, this one will probably make you cringe. Body horror gets me every time.
A rather clueless fellow accidentally stumbles upon Spaceship Earth and soon learns he can never leave. This one had an eerie Outer Limits vibe that brought me back to my teens when I spent endless hours binging on Outer Limits, Twilight Zone and Tales from the Darkside.
Warmth Within Thy Depths
A deep sea diver finds more than he bargained for down below. It’s not all mermaids and singing crabs under the sea, people. This wasn’t one of my favorites but you can’t win ‘em all.
A lonely man awaits freedom from his imprisonment but is the cost worth it? This one was just ok for me.
A young man who grew up surrounded by tales of spirit beasts encounters a magnificent and strange bird while out hunting. His first instinct is to kill it. He quickly learns that one should never mess with a spirit beast. Another “meh” story for me but I think it had more to do with my lack of sympathy towards the protagonist than anything else.
This is the tale of a mad scientist working like, well, a madman to bring back what he has lost. I have a soft spot for these guys who believe their creation will change the world but usually only manage to make their miserable lives all the more miserable.
After the death of his father, Stephen hits the road and lands in a very strange diner. This is another favorite. I have a fondness for weird “Stu” and this one hit all the right spots.
Like all collections of this sort, some of the stories grabbed me more than others. A few are “meh” or just not to my personal taste but most of them are entertaining and they’re all very different which I enjoyed. There’s some great little tales here that would make terrific little short horror movies.
*I received a copy of this from the narrator in exchange for an honest review.
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