There is always something disgusting about a man twenty-odd years senior to a young woman hitting on her. It’s always uncomfortable and it’s always unwanted. At least, that’s my approach. And this short story just took it that little step further in the freaky, ick factor.
I figured from the very beginning that the female lead was likely to be the victim. In some way, shape or form. I mean, she’s a blonde lifeguard in the prime of life about to leave forever and start life anew. If that’s not the typical/expected victim, then who is? And, I was right. Not going to lie, I had kind of hoped that I would be wrong. But it was still an unsettling and intriguing story.
Like all of the short stories in Hauntings, this left me feeling kind of unsettled. And intrigued. And remembering not to read these stories late at night…
So I read this at about 4am waiting for my infant daughter to fall asleep. It was certainly enjoyable and a good way to keep me up. But… maybe it was a little too good. Even after I managed to get back to sleep… the dreams were kind of weird to say the least. It was definitely a haunting kind of story. But one that had just a nice little dash of humour.
After finishing this story, I wondered who and what Katie was who was in a different town. After all, if the lead in this story was some kind of creature that haunts the haunters, then who in the heck is Katie? I like all of the possibilities that my mind took me on and made me wonder about. After all, that’s generally why I enjoy reading horror short stories so much… the possibilities are endless.
This was such a quick short story, so it definitely suits that this is a quick review. It was short, sharp and shiny and seriously enjoyable. The perfect way to wait out a 4-month old who refuses to sleep. But not read it to her… because you know, I want her to actually sleep…
At first I really didn’t see where the horror in this story came from. And then I got to the ending… trust me, it’s horror. Or at least, horrible. My brain conjured so many less than pleasant moments that could have proceeded this short story. Which was most definitely the point. And, honestly, it was the kind of ending that I love in a horror short story – seriously dark, twisted and uncomfortable.
I know that imaginary friends are a really common thing. It’s not something that I ever remember. And the idea of an imaginary friend coming to life in adulthood… that in and of itself feels incredibly disturbed. I mean, there is something just seriously wrong about it. And brining that into a marriage also felt… well, icky. But it got worse.
Mr. Fiddlehead doesn’t feel romantic or attractive from the get-go. There is a definite parasitic feel to him and his presence from the beginning. It steadily gets worse until the climax of this story. And then you just feel kind of wigged. Or at least I did. And now I’m really hoping that my own child doesn’t have an imaginary friend…
Title: Anna Author: F. Paul Wilson In: Hauntings (Ellen Datlow) Rating Out of 5: 4.5 (Amazing, but not quite perfect) My Bookshelves:Horror, Murder Dates read: 18th August 2021 Pace: Medium Format: Short story Publisher: Tachyon Year: 2013 5th sentence, 74th page: Morley watched the fabric and padding of the stool dissolve in a burst of flame, watched the wood of the seat and legs char and smoke and burn and crumble.
He thought he was just buying a beautiful foot stool. But then the wood in his house starts to attack him and he has to open the door to the past… a past that is unexpectedly dark.
There is nothing I like better than a story in which the bad guy gets his comeuppance. I didnt quite realise that this would be one such story until I got about halfway through, but then I felt wonderfully happy and vindicated.
As someone who loves woodwork, I kind of liked the idea of the woodwork doing the haunting. To begin with, your not quite sure WHY Bill keeps getting stabbed by his footstool, but as the past unravels… *shudder.
This was definitely a well themed hauntings question. It was a tale that made me slightly cringe and grin throughout. Wonderful and a little spooky, definitely loved this short tale.
Title: Closing Time Author: Neil Gaiman In: Hauntings (Ellen Datlow) Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!) My Bookshelves:Ghost stories, Horror Dates read: 15th August 2021 Pace: Slow Format: Short story Publisher: Tachyon Year: 2013 5th sentence, 74th page: It existed solely to take advantage of the licensing laws of the day, which forced all pubs to stop serving drinks at eleven PM, closing time.
It’s closing time at the haunted old pub, the time of reminscing, hauntings and the telling of tall tales.
This had a kind of comfortable ghost feeling. Which I didn’t know was a feeling until I read this. I was expecting something dar more haunting considering the book I found this in… but, instead it was… comfortable.
I think that things from the past haunt all of us. That there is something that everyone remembers (whether correctly or incorrectly) from our pasts that makes us stop and think. This story felt like reminiscing on those moments. Those unanswered questions that we didn’t even know to ask when we were younger.
This story may not be haunting. But it was powerful. We’ve all been there at closing time and it always has that… empty feeling. That feeling of finishes and doors closing that we didn’t know we wanted left open. It’s a bit like saying goodbye to questions from our childhood…
Title: The Have-Nots Author: Elizabeth Hand In: Hauntings (Ellen Datlow) Rating Out of 5: 2.5 (Readable, but not worth reading again) My Bookshelves:Ghosts Dates read: 6th August 2021 Pace: Slow Format: Short story Publisher: Tachyon Year: 2013 5th sentence, 74th page: But eventually it all settled down.
A series of tragic events leads to a surprise visit from a celebrity. But, when he comes back, things are a little bit… haunting.
I normally like stories that are a little bit jumpy and swirly. Not so much this one. I liked what the author was trying to do. I just didn’t love the execution of it.
The paragraphs that were the narrator talking about cosmetics or ?I think? someone in the room with them was just confusing. It didn’t lend to the story in the least, and actually ended up making me skim through the story. Which I only do when I’m not quite enjoying the tale.
I probably also didn’t love this because the whole story just felt gossipy and tragic. I liked the allusion to Elvis. But other than that, it just read like a lonely housewife saying negatives about someone to make themselves feel better about their own lives. Again, just not my favourite thing.
Title: The Ammonite Violin (Murder Ballad No. 4) Author: Caitlin R. Kiernan In: Hauntings (Ellen Datlow) Rating Out of 5: 4.5 (Amazing, but not quite perfect) My Bookshelves:Crime, Horror Dates read: 26th July 2021 Pace: Medium Format: Short story Publisher: Tachyon Year: 2013 5th sentence, 74th page: She wonders how it will affect the sound, those five ancient stones, how they might warp and alter this violin’s voice.
He’s a collector. The only thing? One collection is on public display… and then the other? Well, that one is just haunting.
You know that a story is going to be creepy when the lead character is called The Collector. And when the whole story is written from this eerie birds eye point of view. But, it was kind of much more intense than I had expected….
There is always something a bit eerie about Kiernan’s writing. Yet, I found this one particularly bad. Probably because The Collector is a serial killer. And you spend the whole time wondering who the next victim will be. And what the obsession with the violin is.
Nothing about this story is comfortable. But it was intriguing. And I loved that uncomfortable feeling that lingers at the end. Truly haunting.
Title: Nothing Will Hurt You Author: David Morrell In: Hauntings (Ellen Datlow) Rating Out of 5: 4.5 (Amazing, but not quite perfect) My Bookshelves:Family, Horror Dates read: 30th June 2021 Pace: Slow, Medium, Fast Format: Short story Publisher: Tachyon Year: 2013 5th sentence, 74th page: Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street.
Parents are supposed to be able to protect their children. But what happens when they fail?
To start with I had some pretty amazing Edward Scissorhand vibes. I’m not entirely sure why, maybe there’s a reference I picked up subconsciously from my long ago watching of the movie. And honestly, I thought that reference was dark enough…
It got darker. It got more disturbing and I felt quite uncomfortable by the time I’d finished this short story. Which, I suppose makes sense for the fact that it’s in the Hauntings collection. It also left you with a but of a “haunting” feeling when you turned that final page…
I love the idea that a father will do anything to protect his daughter. I also loved how this story took that protective instinct WAY too far. Combined with the haunting by the daughter, a quest for revenge and just the general creepiness of this story… well, I’m still tingling.
Title: Delta Sly Honey Author: Lucius Shepard In: Hauntings (Ellen Datlow) Rating Out of 5: 3 (On the fence about this one) My Bookshelves:Ghosts, Horror Dates read: 16th April 2021 Pace: Medium Format: Short story Publisher: Tachyon Year: 2013 5th sentence, 74th page: But it stains you alla same.
They’re in a warzone and constantly battling for a future. But there may be someone haunting their world.
This short story was a bit of a skim read for me. It wasn’t the kind of story that I’d necessarily return to and be obsessed with, but it was enjoyable all the same. Just an easy and fun read altogether.
The confusion and multiple deaths in this story definitely have a haunting feeling to them. But it was about war, so that kind of lent itself further to this storyline. I mean, war is seriously confusing and terrifying. So why wouldn’t a story about it be seriously confusing?
There is a lot of death in this tale. Mostly I just felt confused and trying to count the number of deaths in this tale. Which kind of works when it’s a story all about hauntings…