Tag Archives: Hauntings

The Toll by Paul Walther

Overview
Hauntings: Datlow, Ellen: 9781616960889: Amazon.com: Books

Title: The Toll
Author: Paul Walther
In: Hauntings (Ellen Datlow)
Rating Out of 5: 3.5 (Liked this)
My Bookshelves: Horror
Pace: Slow
Format: Short story
Publisher: Tachyon
Year: 2013

Thoughts

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…

<- The FoolyThe Pennine Tower Restaurant ->

Image source: Amazon

The Fooly by Terry Dowling

Overview
Hauntings: Datlow, Ellen: 9781616960889: Amazon.com: Books

Title: The Fooly
Author: Terry Dowling
In: Hauntings (Ellen Datlow)
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Ghosts, Horror
Pace: Fast
Format: Short story
Publisher: Tachyon
Year: 2013

Thoughts

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…

<- Mr. FiddleheadThe Toll ->

Image source: Amazon

Mr. Fiddlehead by Jonathan Carroll

Overview
Hauntings: Datlow, Ellen: 9781616960889: Amazon.com: Books

Title: Mr. Fiddlehead
Author: Jonathan Carroll
In: Hauntings (Ellen Datlow)
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Horror
Pace: Slow
Format: Short story
Publisher: Tachyon
Year: 2013

Thoughts

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…

<- AnnaThe Fooly ->

Image source: Amazon

Anna by F. Paul Wilson

Overview
Hauntings: Datlow, Ellen: 9781616960889: Amazon.com: Books

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.

Synopsis

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.

Thoughts

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.

Image source: Amazon

<- Closing TimeMr. Fiddlehead ->

Closing Time by Neil Gaiman

Overview
Hauntings: Datlow, Ellen: 9781616960889: Amazon.com: Books

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.

Synopsis

It’s closing time at the haunted old pub, the time of reminscing, hauntings and the telling of tall tales.

Thoughts

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…

<- The Have-NotsAnna ->

Image source: Amazon

The Have-Nots by Elizabeth Hand

Overview
Hauntings: Datlow, Ellen: 9781616960889: Amazon.com: Books

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.

Synopsis

A series of tragic events leads to a surprise visit from a celebrity. But, when he comes back, things are a little bit… haunting.

Thoughts

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.

<- HauntedClosing Time ->

Image source: Amazon

Haunted by Joyce Carol Oates

Overview
Hauntings: Datlow, Ellen: 9781616960889: Amazon.com: Books

Title: Haunted
Author: Joyce Carol Oates
In: Hauntings (Ellen Datlow) & Demons and Dreams (Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling)
Rating Out of 5: 3.5 (Liked this)
My Bookshelves: Horror
Dates read: 5th August 2021
Pace: Slow
Format: Short story
Publisher: Tachyon
Year: 2013
5th sentence, 74th page: Mother didn’t like Mary Lou visiting with me when no one else was home in our house: she didn’t trust her, she said.

Synopsis

Adulthood gives us many moments to reflect on the past. But there are some ghosts that should maybe stay buried.

Thoughts

This story had so many horrible layers throughout it. Like, seriously disturbing layers. It made me very uncertain as to the amount of liking I feel for this short story.

This was brilliantly written. An adult reflecting on their childhood in that broken way we all have. After all, memories are just functions of our mind and never truly “true”.

This was a seriously not okay story. Don’t get me wrong, I seriously enjoyed it… but it was still very much disturbing and not okay.

<- The Ammonite Violin (Murder Ballad No. 4)The Have-Nots ->

Image source: Amazon

The Ammonite Violin (Murder Ballad No. 4) by Caitlin R. Kiernan

Overview
Hauntings: Datlow, Ellen: 9781616960889: Amazon.com: Books

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.

Synopsis

He’s a collector. The only thing? One collection is on public display… and then the other? Well, that one is just haunting.

Thoughts

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.

<- Nothing Will Hurt YouHaunted ->

Image source: Amazon

Nothing Will Hurt You by David Morrell

Overview
Hauntings: Datlow, Ellen: 9781616960889: Amazon.com: Books

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: FamilyHorror
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.

Synopsis

Parents are supposed to be able to protect their children. But what happens when they fail?

Thoughts

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.

<- Delta Sly HoneyThe Ammonite Violin (Murder Ballad No. 4) ->

Image source: Amazon

Delta Sly Honey by Lucius Shepard

Overview
Hauntings: Datlow, Ellen: 9781616960889: Amazon.com: Books

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.

Synopsis

They’re in a warzone and constantly battling for a future. But there may be someone haunting their world.

Thoughts

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…

<- CargoNothing Will Hurt You ->

Image source: Amazon