A Collection of Horror Gems

I follow, like, and read short stories by Tobias Wade, a contributor to this collection of short stories. I obtained the novel from his website. Wade writes approximately short stories several times per week and sends them out in email alerts on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. Some are brilliant, others are merely good but he is a writer that will hold the interest of genre horror fans.

This collection was written by four authors and has a total of 41 stories. David Maloney is an English teacher living in China. An expat English teacher and also a writer? With13 stories in this collection, he joins a well-populated subculture. Ha-yong Glen Bak lists editor among other credentials. Offering 11 titled stories plus a bonus story, writers must fear him as they fear all editors. Kyle Alexander is described as a professional graffiti artist. Is this another form of the ultimate short story, or flash fiction? Alexander contributes two short stories and a collection Teenagers which is presented in three chapters. Tobias Wade seems to be an outlier as far as writer associated occupations with a former profession of neuroscience researcher. Wade brings 12 stories to this collection. I have read another collection of his, 51 Sleepless Nights, and am currently reading The Last Man. I also enjoy his weekly horror wake-up calls. With so many stories to choose from, I will comment on my favorite contribution from each author.

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What is IT?

Stephen King sends you an invitation to a party in Derry, Maine. You will recognize it by the envelope with the inscribed IT on the outside. Going to any party can be an exhausting activity. You enter an unknown environment and meet new people. You like some of them. Others, you don’t. But you do a little bit of work and fulfill social obligations. Listening to IT is like that. If you accept the invitation, you will meet a lot of characters, some of them may not inhabit the social milieu to which you are accustomed. But be polite, acknowledge everyone; each character contributes something. King would not invite characters who don’t contribute. It’s just that when you accept the invitation to the read, you must contribute something as well. Pay close attention.

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Too Many Parents

The Third Parent by Elias Witherow is a novel of extreme horror, fantasy, and a cry for social responsibility when bad things happen. Neighbors should help neighbors. Teachers should investigate situations where something is obviously out-of-whack. Parents should always be able to protect their children. The novel opens with the transcript of a 911 call. A situation has already gone too far so there is a plea for help. But this situation was beyond police help.

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Make A Zombie Your Friend

This is not a novel I would have ever expected from Joyce Carol Oates. Despite my addiction to horror fiction, I am not a fan of werewolves and vampires. Zombies turn me off so much I haven’t even watched a complete episode of “The Walking Dead.” But when I saw Zombies as the title of a Joyce Carol Oates novel, I had to try it. What could such a talented author do to make me interested in a novel which I would usually pass up? I read the sample and was amazed by the hints of what the content would be. The unusual writing style is an equally great hook to a reader.

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A Frustrated Writer/Blogger

The Serial Killer’s Wife by Robert Swartwood grabs reader attention right away with a catchy title. Given that a serial killer might have a wife, is she then automatically either willingly or unwillingly an accomplice? We learn in the first few pages that Sarah Walter is working as a teacher’s assistant, so she must not have been considered an accomplice. But Sarah is also Elizabeth Piccione and Elizabeth’s husband is in jail for multiple murders. Serial killers once caught tend to attract publicity and Eddie’s trial had plenty of that. Despite not truly believing Eddie had done such a thing, there had been absolutely no hints of violent behavior and no spousal abuse, Elizabeth felt she and son Matthew had to disappear. She enlisted two close friends to help her, changed her name, and fled from all the publicity in order to provide a more normal life for her son.  But there were those that felt by fleeing she had admitted complicity in the crime. Several people with different motives wanted to find her. The one that she feared the most was a self-serving author/journalist/blogger, Clarence Applegate.

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Research Gone Wrong

In a character-driven novel such as Envy Rots the Bones by Nina Blakeman it seems easy to group the characters into the two broad categories of “good” and “bad.” In this crime/horror novel, there might be one good character, Dr. Todd Davis, and he seems to be a creature more deserving of pity than one possessing good, hero qualities. A medical researcher, he had been married to Annette, a woman despised by everyone, to include her mother. So maybe one could forgive Todd’s indiscretion in falling in love with Faye, a graduate student twenty years his junior. His children, twin daughters Emma and Ella, were troubled enough with the acceptance of Faye as “mom” to support conflicts throughout the novel. That didn’t excuse Faye’s admitted murder of Annette. Maybe Faye could claim self-defense since former wife Annette had kidnapped and tortured Faye with an objective of killing her. But Faye would only admit to the murder to herself, she would not assert a claim of self-defense in any public trial.

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Mothers Rule

Harvest Home by Thomas Tryon is a novel that I cannot believe I had not yet read. I am sure there are many more but this one surprised me because it is firmly in the horror genre, my favorite. The novel wanders its way through a landscape of many stories and themes that are revealed by protagonist Ned who occasionally halts to examine a particular theme through introspection. Ned looks at the devotion Maggie shows in the care of the semi-invalid Robert. He reflects on the relationship of unequivocal commitment and devotion. Ned observes the benefits of the “country mouse becoming a city mouse” as he moves wife Beth and daughter Kath to the village of Cornwall Coombe. Ned reflects on the benefits of strong relationships present in a rural setting that are absent in an urban one. Ned examines superstitious practices that govern daily activities of his village neighbors. He reflects on what he must do to show respect for practices he doesn’t believe in so that he might gain acceptance by the villagers.

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