Volume 1 offers an interesting assortment of macabre tales, and manages to form a quite cohesive product despite the assortment of fiction on hand. While not every tale is a grand slam, there are a few homerun’s to found here. Remarkably, the majority of this collection could be considered appropriate reading material for children. Don’t get me wrong, there are some truly vile tales intact, but there’s also what I often refer to as “universal horror”, meaning fiction fit for one and all.
Ada Hoffman’s childlike tale of a massive slime monster is remarkably dark beneath the surface, yet Ada unravels the account in an innocent fashion, leaving the door open to all. Believe me however, when I say that this one ends on a bleak note, and the conclusion is the point in which the sinister elements of “Jenny’s House” manage to slap readers in the face, serving as a cruel reminder that this is a multifaceted tale with no light at the end of the tunnel.
Elizabeth Twist’s, Last Nephew adds some extra intrigue to the collection by fusing horror and science fiction in a brief tale that actually rings quite melancholy when you see beyond the mystery and initial dazzle. It’s a multilayered tale that certainly looms near the forefront of memory once you’ve ingested the story for all it’s worth.
Rather than analyzing each specific tale, I’d really like to point out what I consider to be an incredible short, and the highlight of the collection, Mark Onspaugh’s, A Lullaby for Caliban. This is a piece of work that will likely summon traces of nostalgia for many readers and visions of classic pictures such as Something Wicked this Way Comes and Tobe Hooper’s, The Funhouse. In fact, one might consider this as a contemporary collision of the stories that fuel the two aforementioned films. Needless to say readers are deposited on a haunting carnival fairway where creatures lurk and malicious happenings seem the norm. It’s a fantastic tale that should not be missed, especially when taking into account the remarkably fair price of a buck.
Volume 1 boasts a bit of everything so beloved by horror fans. Monsters (quite a few!), revenge, age old folklore decorated with a modern spin, and even a touch of originality; it’s all here to soak up, and it’s certainly the kind of material that reverberates in the mind of readers long after the final page has become a thing of the past.
Pardon the pun, but this is an awfully big bang for your buck!
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