Death’s Sweet Echo by Len Maynard and Mick Sims
Tickety Boo Press Ltd., 2015
Available: Kindle edition
Maynard and Sims present thirteen stories, reminiscent of some of the classics. The tone, atmosphere, and themes of these tales of the supernatural are unique to each story, spanning different time periods. A haunted house in an old New England town holds dark secrets; a widow is being followed by someone who claims to be her dead husband; a confused man runs through the rainy streets of London late for a life altering appointment, only to find he was too late anyway.
A few stories stand out. “Another Bite of the Cherry” opens with the frustrated thoughts of an Egyptian girl trapped and immobile in her sarcophagus. who, along with her parents, had been taken and mummified by someone who usurped the position of Pharaoh. The story fast forwards to post-war England. Lizzie Stirling, an out of work actress, has to settle with a job she was once too proud to take, in a nude revue on the small stage. She’s been offered another bite of the cherry, being able to work on the stage again. She makes a few friends, including the leading man of the club’s shows. This friendship turns into more, much more.
“I’m Here” is set after the Great Depression. Poor William Burton lost all of his investment. He reluctantly accepts an invitation to a Christmas party, with a gift he is less than proud of because he has very little disposable income. There are drinks, a lavish meal, and party games, which William dislikes. Then, there are the looks his former love bestows upon her husband, an opportunist who grabbed her up at William’s most difficult time. William, however, finds this all to be an illusion, in a most upsetting way.
In “Sweet Decay of Youth”, Daniel doesn’t want his small group of college friends to abandon him, and he does what he can to ensure his place amongst them. In “Silver”, Maria talks of the silver people in the lake at the Drysdale Clinic, a mental health facility. Her father doesn’t believe her at first, but after the groundskeeper is attacked and the assault is blamed on Maria, things start to fall into place. In the tale called “Guilt Casts Long Shadows”, Martin is wracked with guilt, and he finds out what happens when he doesn’t make proper amends.
Maynard and Sims are true masters of the short horror story. You would be missing out if you skipped over this collection, especially if you like classic horror. They don’t rely on blood and gore to drive their tales. Don’t get me wrong– I love a good, bloody short story myself– but sometimes I like to pick up something that leaves more to the imagination. There really is something appealing to leaving the brain to do some of the heavy lifting, and this book allows for that. Recommended.
Reviewed by Lizzy Walker