Reviews and updates from Amber Foxx, author of the Mae Martin Psychic Mystery Series
Horror explores monstrosity, not only in the forms of monsters, but in those aspects of human nature that are monstrous. The cruelty of children and teenagers is a repeated theme in this collection. This being a Halloween collection, our inherent fascination with scaring ourselves is also a theme. I enjoyed, if that’s the right word for horror, four out of these five stories.
The Riggle Twins: Gregor Xane has the strangest mind of any author whose work I’ve ever read. I mean that as a compliment. His bizarre originality and weird imagery make this story nightmarish, a modern myth of sorts. The intersection of the twins’ and Sam’s (named for Samhain?) other-world and that of a Halloween-hating curmudgeon in ordinary reality is well crafted and utterly unpredictable. Like his novella <i>Six Dead Spots</i>, it left me thinking—<i>whoa, what happened? </i>
Pumpkinhead Ted by Evans Light and Easy Pickings by Jason Parent both deal with bullying. Pumpkinhead Ted takes the point of view of victim, Easy Pickings, the point of view of a bully. The stories are very different and yet they have much is common. Both are classic horror—things start out in the familiar, stressful and often turbulent world of an adolescent, and gradually shift with convincing realism into horror. Both have believable characters, a strong theme, and effectively chilling moments. The invisible world in Easy Pickings is as frightening as anything that’s seen.
Ghost Light Road by Adam Light starts out strong, and has a solid plot, though I found certain elements less horrifying than I think they were meant to be. He uses that classic scary story someone told you as a teenager, about being stranded on a country road, and something bad happened, and takes it a few steps further. The end is thought-provoking. All of these four stories are, in fact.
The fifth story, The Scare Rows by Edward Lorn, was the bad apple in the barrel, for me. The author’s style annoyed me—self-conscious and pretentious at times. Once in a while great line grabbed me, but that didn’t make up for the rest of the story. The intended horror imagery is primarily sexual and I felt as if a teenaged boy had written this, indulging in redundant descriptions of vaginal lubrication and erections in some very strange situations. It got repetitious. Maybe it was meant to be some sort of allegory about GMO corn for all I know, and the seduction of the masses by cheap products, but whatever it was, it didn’t work for me. While a few events were moderately surprising, it was because that they garnered a “yuck,” not a shiver. It was hard to get involved and care because Lorn seemed to stand outside the story with detached contempt for his characters. The other authors get deep into the minds and feelings of their characters. That’s one of the elements that the made the difference between four page turners and one story I wanted to stop reading.
Four four-stars and one two-star make the book a 3.6. I’ll shade the stars on Booklikes, and round up on Goodreads.