Tag Archives: Horror

The Name of the Dame by Ted Hertel, Jr.

Overview
Murder and Mayhem in Muskego: Jordan, Jon & Ruth, Phillips, Gary,  Richardson, Kat: Amazon.com.au: Books

Title: The Name of the Dame
Author: Ted Hertel, Jr.
In: Murder and Mayhem in Muskego (Jon & Ruth Jordan)
Rating Out of 5: 4.5 (Amazing, but not quite perfect)
My Bookshelves: Horror
Pace: Slow
Format: Short story
Publisher: Down and Out Books
Year: 2012

Thoughts

When I started reading this I was so very, very uncomfortable. I mean, it’s a damn character who is a stalker and terrifying. And just… oh, hell no. But, spoiler alert, it’s alright, it does end well.

As a female, there is nothing more terrifying than the idea of a man stalking you and the levels that some will go to. It’s honestly one of my biggest fears. And why I have a fairly giant dog to live with. So for me, this short story definitely sits on the “horror shelf”.

Interwoven within this is the mythos that comes about in many fae tales – that a name is power. And, honestly, it’s definitely the case in this story. It’s possible to do all sorts of things with someone’s name… something that is shown quite strongly in this short story.

The Name of the Dame is most definitely a horrifying and creepy story. One that taps into some of my deepest fears.

<- Loose LipsThe Great Plains ->

Image source: Amazon

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 ->

Baby by Kathe Koja

Overview
Image result for teeth ellen datlow terri windling book cover

Title: Baby
Author: Kathe Koja
In: Teeth: Vampire Tales (Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling)
Rating Out of 5: 3.5 (Liked this)
My Bookshelves: Horror, Vampires
Dates read: 18th August 2021
Pace: Slow
Format: Short story
Publisher: Harper
Year: 2011
5th sentence, 74th page: I was pretty scared, and pretty mad, when I got home.

Synopsis

She’s growing up and leaving the past toys of her childhood behind. But in this case, that’s a little bit more difficult and dark than expected…

Thoughts

I find dolls creepy (I hope to god I don’t have a doll obsessed kid)… and, once I realised that the vampire like creature in this was, in fact, a creepy doll.. ick.

Honestly, I didn’t really love this story. I didn’t hate it… but it wasn’t my favourite. Probably the doll thing. There is just something about them that is… nope nope nope. Especially ones with glass eyes.

I did like the take on vampires, magic and familiars in this. It was a little dark and twisty, kind of convoluted and not what I expected at all. Which is what I truly love in a short story.

<- SunbleachedIn the Future When All’s Well ->

Image source: HarperCollins

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

Modern Coyote by Shane Jones

Overview
Image result for xo orpheus book cover

Title: Modern Coyote
Author: Shane Jones
In: Xo Orpheus (Kate Bernheimer)
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!),
My Bookshelves: Horror, Mythology
Dates read: 10th August 2021
Pace: Slow
Format: Short story
Publisher: Penguin Books
Year: 2013
5th sentence, 74th page: His ears were more prominent and they too had gray hair.

Synopsis

After the doctor gave them the choice, they took their baby home. “He’s here,” said Ben, into the phone. “They let us leave.”

Thoughts

This was one of those jumpy stories that doesn’t quite feel complete. And thus is fat more horrifying. Its uncomfortable and confusing, with so many things left unsaid. Which honestly just added to the appeal.

I think this story felt more horrifying and uncomfortable to me because there was a new born baby in it. And the whole expecting thing made that so much realistic… and triggering.

I actually liked this. It didn’t feel hugely like a coyote story to me, but it was brilliant. And horrifying. And twisty.

<- Henry and BoobooDevourings ->

Image source: Goodreads

The Bone Houses by Emily Lloyd-Jones

Overview
The Bone Houses by Emily Lloyd-Jones

Title: The Bone Houses
Author: Emily Lloyd-Jones
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Historical fiction, Horror, Paranormal fantasy, Young adult, Zombies
Dates read: 22nd July – 6th August 2021
Pace: Medium
Format: Novel
Publisher: Little Brown Books
Year: 2019
5th sentence, 74th page: She tried to steady her breathing, to will herself to calm.

Synopsis

NOTHING STAYS BURIED FOREVER.

Seventeen-year-old Ryn cares about only two things: her family and her family’s graveyard. And right now, both are in dire straits. Since the death of their parents, Ryn and her siblings have been scraping together a meagre existence as gravediggers in the remote village of Colbren, which sits at the foot of a harsh and deadly mountain range that was once home to the fae. The problem with being a gravedigger in Colbren, though, is that the dead don’t always stay dead.

The risen corpses are known as bone houses, and legend says that they’re the result of an old curse. When Ellis, an apprentice mapmaker with a mysterious past, arrives in town, the bone houses attack with a new ferocity. What is it that draws them near? And more importantly, how can they be stopped for good?

Together, Ellis and Ryn embark on a journey that will take them into the heart of the mountains, where they will have to face both the curse and the deeply buried truths about themselves. Equal parts classic horror novel and original fairy tale, The Bone Houses will have you spellbound from the very first page.

Thoughts

This is one of those books that I’ve been wanting to read for a while. But it seems to keep getting shunted to the side. Now that I’ve finally managed to sink my teeth into it… wow. This was brilliant. The kind of journey that is hard to put down and forget about. Even writing this review, the day after finishing the book, I’m getting the happy tingles.

I seem to be enjoying books a lot lately that flick between the points of view. I like how this mostly starts with Ryn and builds up her history really strongly. Then it flickers over to Ellis and starts to give out his history and characterisation in more of a trickle. Not only are you reading the book because you can’t wait to see how it ends, but also because you want to know where Ellis began.

This had a slight historical fiction feel to it. The structure of the society and the use of the fae back stories felt very celtic to me. It had a nice sense of familiarity that I tend to find with this background. Then, you add in the bone houses. They’re seriously creepy and a mystery all on their own. Each and every moment of the journey, I was fully expecting one of them to jump out and that tension kept me turning each and every page.

I absolutely adored this book, it had two strong characters who both had their flaws. A dead goat that showed insane amounts of loyalty. And a feeling of mystery that seized you from the very first moment and swept you along. This was just amazing and I’m so glad that I decided to pick this book up!!!

<- More Emily Lloyd-JonesThe Drowned Woods ->

Image source: Goodreads

Sit the Dead by Jeffrey Ford

Overview
Image result for teeth ellen datlow terri windling book cover

Title: Sit the Dead
Author: Jeffrey Ford
In: Teeth: Vampire Tales (Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling)
Rating Out of 5: 4.5 (Amazing, but not quite perfect)
My Bookshelves: Horror, Paranormal fantasy, Vampires
Dates read: 6th August 2021
Pace: Medium
Format: Short story
Publisher: Harper
Year: 2011
5th sentence, 74th page: “Let’s go in.”

Synopsis

All he wants is for his girlfriend’s family to accept him. Even if that means sitting next to the dead with the weird uncle that barely speaks English. But, as it turns out, that is the least of his troubles. They’re just about to begin…

Thoughts

I really like the way that this uses the hint of old world traditions and practices to build the storyline. The fact that it is written from the point of view of a boy that just wants to be with his girl… well, it all works out well.

Sometimes the open endedness of short stories is kind of irritating. But, I liked the way that this one ends. It’s open… but with a hint of more action and a life to continue living in the future. And more potential for romance.

This story was great. But, it does make me leery about coffins and dead people… the imagery throughout this is just far too intense and realistic.

<- Best Friends ForeverSunbleached ->

Image source: HarperCollins