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.
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…
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.
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: 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.
After the doctor gave them the choice, they took their baby home. “He’s here,” said Ben, into the phone. “They let us leave.”
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.
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.
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!!!
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…
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.
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: The Master of Rampling Gate Author: Anne Rice In: By Blood We Live (John Joseph Adams) Rating Out of 5: 3.5 (Liked this) My Bookshelves:Gothic, Horror, Vampires Dates read: 30th June 2021 Pace: Slow, Medium, Fast Format: Short story Publisher: Night Shade Books Year: 2008 5th sentence, 74th page: “What have they done to me?” he whispered.
Two siblings were left with strict instructions of their father’s death – destroy Rampling Gate. But a visit to find out what they are to destroy has them questioning everything.
This had a very gothic / Dracula feel to it. But just not quite as horrifying and twisted. Actually, it had kind of surreal sort of happy ending. Not one that I necessarily went head over heels for. But one that I enjoyed nevertheless.
I like that there was a mystery and a feeling of family traditions and horrors throughout this tale. It wasn’t overly dark in and of itself, but that potential lingered throughout the tale. And it left me feeling very happily intrigued as I flicked through the pages.
I’ve heard of Anne Rice many times. I mean, who hasn’t when you like anything paranormal? So it was fun to know what her writing is actually like. I’d definitely be intrigued to buy one of her novels now…