Collection of short horror stories, some by well-known authors like Stephen King and Peter Straub, others by new faces to the genre.
Interesting mix. Not every story was terrifying. Some were sad, actually. Some were interesting but not in a creepy way, and still others sent a chill or two down my spine. Yes, one or two were completely boring, but I’m not going to talk about those. I am going to talk about the two that grabbed my attention the hardest, and those were “Stay” by Leah Bobet and “The Show” by Priya Sharma.
First, “Stay” by Lean Bobet is about a group of Inuit who find themselves keeping company with a Wendigo. Caught between him and the Raven, who keeps visiting and cawing warnings in his shrill voice, one waitress has to figure out how to get her town out from between a rock and a hard place, hopefully without killing anyone in the process. I really enjoyed the incorporation and integration of the three myths – the Raven, Wendigo, and Persephone/Orpheus tales. I also liked that the poor trucker – Aiden – was absolutely terrified of what he had become and didn’t completely understand it, not having grown up with the legends the way the townspeople had. This piece was very atmospheric, and extremely well-written. I could almost feel the chill of the snowy wind biting into my face as the waitress made her trek from restaurant to makeshift hospital, and was as relieved as she when the hot soup she carried warmed her chilled body. I felt her desperation at her predicament, and her determination to see it solved. I also liked that the ending was uncertain, because the story was balanced on a knife edge from the beginning. It would have been wrong to give it a decisive ending.
“The Show” by Priya Sharma was probably my favorite in this collection. In it, a woman finds herself acquiring a dubious ‘gift’ that she’d merely been pretending at having for years. What I liked about this was that it had the same sense of history as “Stay” – that same shared culture, only this was between a family rather than a town. Martha comes from a long line of mediums but lacks the power herself, and both her family’s sight and her lack weaves throughout the piece. There’s a sharp undercurrent of bitterness when Martha thinks about how her sister could See while Martha was forever blind to the world of the supernatural, a feeling of inadequacy that colors the whole story. Of course, the reader immediately understands that Martha is finally going to see something spiritual for real, but the way she does – and the final reveal at the end – were one of the creepier aspects of this book.
My one complaint is that the editing on these pieces was incredibly sloppy, with misspelled words, dropped words, unpleasant sentence and story structure, and even contradictory elements in certain stories. It wasn’t enough to deter me from reading, but it was enough to be noticeable, and drag the book’s rating down for me.
Still, enjoyable reads, and I found myself some new authors to check out, so I am going to call it an overall win.