Monday, September 18, 2017

Dark Screams, Volume Eight

 The DARK SCREAMS series reaches an all-time high with Volume Eight.

 I've been enjoying Hydra's e-book exclusive DARK SCREAMS series, both in concept and execution: A semi-regular assortment of short Horror stories anchored by a novella, with each volume a mix of old and new stories, genre greats and relative newcomers, all at a very attractive price.

 DARK SCREAMS, VOLUME EIGHT is, without a doubt, one of the strongest entries in the series.

 The collections opens with THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION Director Frank Darabont's whimsical Horror story, Walpuski's Typewriter, which saw print over a decade ago as a Cemetery Dance limited-edition hardcover. The story of a hack screenwriter who strikes a deal with  a typewriter repairman/sorcerer is a fun bit of fluff, but I would recommend interested parties track down a copy of the hardcover. It features beautiful Bernie Wrightson illustrations, which are worth the price of admission alone, but it also has a lengthy introduction by Darabont, which puts the rather pedestrian story in a historical context that makes it easier to enjoy.

 The legendary Bentley Little is up next, with THE BOY a typically surreal offering about a strange little boy and the uptight housewives who make it their mission to make his already miserable life even worse.

Benjamin Percy's TUMOR is a real surprise, and marks Percy as a writer to keep an eye on. This disturbing tale of an underachieving man and his brain tumor is a winner on every level. I can't recommend this one enough.

This is followed by another stunning short, Billie Sue Mosiman's TWISTED AND GNARLED, which features a duel of wits between a serial killer and the mother of his most recent victim. This could have gone on much longer, and I would have been fine with it. Excellent stuff.

 Kealan Patrick Burke's THE PALAVER is another tale of his fictional town of Milestone, and he knocks it out of the park, as usual. I have yet to be disappointed by anything that Burke has written. Quiet horror does not get any better than this.

The collection closes with Glen Hirshberg's odd tale of a ill-fated American Cricket league. Hirshberg's quiet, funny tale builds to a shocking climax that I didn't quite understand, but loved nonetheless.

 Hydra provided a review copy, but this is well worth paying for.