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Five writers have come together with 9 tales in this anthology. Foreword is by Jonathan Mayberry. Contributing authors are: David Daniel, Ursula Wong, Dale T. Phillips, Stacy Longo, and Vlad V.
By and large this collection of spooky stories had the flavor of the Twilight Zone stories – where much of the story seems normal, every day. But as the reader explores each story deeper, they learn that all is not as normal or pleasant as it seemed at first glance. And I feel that is what made this a greet collection of tales – really, these tales could be going on right now in my neighborhood. The characters were average people on the surface, folks you would great over coffee or perhaps work with. But any one of them could be a little off, a little insane on the inside. I quite enjoyed Scalper, Chupacabra Moon, and The Sleep Artist.
Memory Unit by David Daniel: This little tale involved moon glow, and some cold case files. Chilling!
Dark Water by Ursula Wong – Four friends (Vicky, Jane, Emile, Peter) decide to take a small vacation together staying at a place that has a natural pond. One member believes the pond is haunted as it forces her to delve into her memories of a rape sustained some time back. This one was disturbing for plenty of reasons!
Jack O’Lantern by Dale T. Phillips – Jacqueline (Jae) has had to recently move to Iowa. She’s having trouble fitting in, no one likes the nickname she’s given herself, and there is a very spooky scarecrow out in the field. Of course no one believes her about how spooky the scarecrow is and that comes back to bite them in the bum.
Old Man Winter by Stacy Longo – We first meet the Old Man when he is perhaps 6 years old. His little sister, Patsy, has recently been born and he is none too pleased. He wants her gone and devises ways during play to make that happen. As the story moves forward, we are treated the Old Man’s life and all those he eliminates. The ending to this tale was very satisfying.
Scalper by David Daniel – Vick Dempsey meets the Scalper at a hockey game, where the Scalper is selling tickets. But he doesn’t just have tickets to sports events. He also sells tickets to various kinds of violence. At first Vick is merely intrigued and even slightly disgusted. But as he goes to one event after another, his interest grows. Can things possibly go too far? The ending was left up to the reader’s interpretation. I think the Scalper would make an interesting character for a series.
Never Alone by Ursula Wong – Raymond was small boy, living on a farm, who died from falling from a hayloft. Most of the story is centered on him after this tragic accident as he continues to haunt the house. I felt it was an interesting beginning and I would have liked to read more of Raymond’s story. The tale felt incomplete.
Chupacabra Moon by Dale T. Phillips – Katherine has a facial scar from a tragic accident and this adds to her social anxiety. She feels that people see the scar and not her, are interested in the scar and the tragic tale, and not her. Then she meets Jarred, who is a photographer. They have a whirlwind romance and Jarred gets a photography assignment in Mexico. He is to photograph the native traditions concerning the chupacabra. His true nature comes out to Katherine during this trip and she doesn’t like what she sees. Katherine turned out to be a very practical woman and I quite enjoyed this tale.
Color Him Crazy by Stacy Longo – Jesse, Bartles, & Edda are siblings. The story is told through Bart’s eyes. His older brother, Jesse, is a convicted serial killer. Meanwhile Edda is on trial for killing and eating her boyfriend. Bart feels he is the only normal one of the three, but small things are revealed about his personal life as the story goes forward. The author was having a joke with the three names, but I didn’t really get these jokes. I believe Bartles was named after a wine cooler. I am not sure what joke surrounds Jesse. Apparently Edda’s name coupled with her last name referred to some singer or gangster’s girlfriend or such. I totally did not recognize the name or reference when the joke was explained. This left me feeling a bit stupid and kept kicking me out of the story as I pondered the jokes. Over all, I liked the main story.
The Sleep Artist by Vlad V. – Baby Miguel is not sleeping well and his parents have tried everything they can think of – home remedies, doctors, prayer. Now they have turned to Wanda who is a Sleep Artist. There’s only a few like her left and they are spread thin. She has been doing this a long, long time and is one of the best. She is a demon hunter and she believes that baby Miguel is inhabited by a demon (Shardok?). As Wanda sets her crystals and safety circles and enters the dreams of Miguel, a battle of wits and cunning ensues between the demon and Wanda. They travel through memories and time, going three rounds. The story started off solid and then veered to the 1920s prohibition and a speak easy and a touch of erotica. This section was written well, but at first I was not sure what was going on. Luckily, this story is long enough to tie it all together and not leave the reader feeling like they missed something. The ending was not what I was expecting and I quite enjoyed this story.
Narration: Fred Wolinsky did a pretty good job. I have listened to several of his audiobooks by now. He had distinct voices for male and female characters and a range that allowed each story to be distinct. He injected the tales with drama and emotion and often I was quite lost in the story. My one quibble is that sometimes his female voices sounded like cartoon children instead of full grown women. At other times, he quite nailed it giving me a believable adult female.
What I Liked: A very interesting collection; several of the stories had unexpected endings; they varied in length.
What I Disliked: One of the tales had an inside joke concerning the characters names that left me feeling stupid; occasionally, an adult female would sound more like a cartoon kid than a full grown woman.
3 of 4 people found this review helpful
What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?
The narrator was Horrible. The way he did female voices was So obnoxious. I'm still not sure if it was a mocking tone or just a really poor choice in voice pitches. Either way, I couldn't listen to that sound without having to turn off the audiobook to give my ears a rest. It was like nails on a chalk board.
The stories are not scary in he least bit. They're pretty much old hat as far as short stories go.
What was most disappointing about the authors’s story?
They were neither interesting or scary.
Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Fred Wolinsky?
Anyone! It's like you hear a horrible narrator and think, "This is the worst." Then you hear Mr. Wolinsky's imitation of a female voice and think, "I was wrong. It can get worse!"
You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?
No, not one.
Any additional comments?
I'm not sure where the good reviews came from, but I'm fairly sure it wasn't from anyone that listened or read this book.
2 of 3 people found this review helpful