Halloween Carnival, Volume 1 edited by Brian James Freeman
Available: Kindle edition
Halloween Carnival, Volume 1 is the first of five collections of five Halloween-themed stories, with each story by a different writer in the horror genre. Curated by Brian James Freeman, the short collections were published as individual ebooks in a series, with one releasing in consecutive order on each Tuesday in October of 2017.
Robert McCammon’s “Strange Candy” is a bittersweet ghost story. A father finds an odd piece of unwrapped candy is found in the bottom of his child’s candy bag, and when he doesn’t heed the kidding chides of his wife about eating tampered candy. and consumes it, he is visited by a spirit for each of the gnarled peppermint shaped fingers. Each one brings him urgent messages to deliver to the living. When he receives his own visit from a very human messenger, he knows what he must do.
Kevin Lucia’s “The Rage of Achilles, or When Mockingbirds Sing,” returns readers of his previous books to Clifton Heights. Father Ward volunteers to hear confessions on All Hallow’s Eve. The father of a dead boy apologizes for what he is about to do after delivering his story. Will Father Ward be too late to stop the distraught father, or is there something more to the events of this strange night?
In John R. Little’s “Demon Air”, Halle is headed to Australia on the cheapest flight possible. When the stewards and pilot get in on the Halloween fun, it seems like all fun and games, until the danger becomes too real on the long flight.
In Lisa Morton’s “La Hacienda de lost Muertos,” Trick McGrew, an old-time cowboy star of the silver screen, is thrown into a real ghost story when he walks onto the set of his new film in Mexico. He discovers the sad La Llorona, searching endlessly for her lost children, is more than just a legend. He also discovers the truth behind her death, and what became of her babies.
Everyone is using hashtags these days. What happens when someone takes it too far? That’s the question Mark Allen Gunnells poses in “#MakeHalloweenScaryAgain.” Dustin, an author working on his next novel, starts the infamous hashtag that will change the town he lives in forever. When journalist Shawn befriends the author, and the major suspect in a grisly chain of events, things get even stranger. The use of social media in this story adds to the intrigue the author sets. Who is using the author’s hashtag to drive his push to make Halloween scary again?
I enjoyed this short anthology very much. The stories are short, entertaining reads, especially appropriate for the most wonderful time of the year for those of us who love Halloween. “The Rage of Achilles” is a particular favourite. The story is subtle in its horror, and the author’s treatment of a child with autism is very real, well-written, and sensitive to the fact that not every person with autism has every single marker of the spectrum. Recommended.
Contains: some violence
Reviewed by Lizzy Walker