Please note that I received this book via NetGalley. This did not affect my rating or review.
Ahh, a very nice Halloween anthology series. I really enjoyed the stories for the most part, there were just two stories that did not work for me. I am realizing now after reading other’s reviews that some of the stories were not everyone’s cup of tea. Probably because most of the readers wanted more horror and not gallows humor that seemed to run through some of the stories. I will say there are some typos in some of the stories, but since this is an ARC I am more forgiving of that. This anthology honestly reminded me a bit of the Dean Koontz “Strange Highways” short story collection he put out years ago. Some scary and then some matter of fact stories in it as well. I think that most teens would get a kick out of these stories and I honestly liked reading these while in bed trying to tell myself I don’t need to put the heat on yet. October is just around the corner and I can’t wait for the leaves changing, the cold weather, and the crunch as I walk by and look at houses decorated for Halloween.
“From Pumpkin to Jack-o’-lantern” by Marjory E. Leposky (1 star)-Honestly, I think this would have been better if it was just a prologue or something. It’s a nonfiction story about how to grow pumpkins and the best way to turn them into jack-o’-lanterns and why you should use non-wax candles. I thought it was interesting, but definitely was not a great mood setter for a horror anthology.
“Moonlit Hunt” by J.M. Silverleaf (2.5 stars)-A flash fiction story. It’s not even a page. I thought it was good, but maybe this should have been the first story in the anthology. It’s short, but it does set the mood better.
“Pumpkin Hollow” by Pamela Kinney (5 stars)-I liked this, a young woman named Penny gets a mysterious invitation to a town hosting a Halloween festival and special haunt. Something about the invitation calls to her. She ends up inviting her three friends and one of her friend’s then invites his girlfriend. The five of them don’t realize what they are walking into. This honestly reminded me a lot of R.L. Stine’s “Fear Street” books so I loved it. You just read and go, well that’s a terrible idea.
“Vampire Gourd” by Jennifer Kyrnin (5 stars)-A man that takes his gardening way too seriously. I loved this. Part of me wondered what was real or not real after a while in this story. I honestly don’t know if it’s possible to grow gourds as large as this guy was doing after a while. But for readers who want some blood and gore, this tale has it in spades.
“Nasty Old B!tch” by S.P. Mount (3.5 stars)-Look I get this wasn’t everyone’s favorite, but I did laugh a bit. A woman named Myrtle (or is it?) who is in her 90s and is determined to give her town a Halloween they will never forget. Just like in “Vampire Gourd” though, I was left wondering was this real or not real. Because you are given some context clues about Myrtle that has you wondering.
“Flock of Badb” by S.P. Mount (4 stars)-I don’t know, this one cracked me up. It’s about a young woman named Wilhelmina Lee who has been told there’s a curse that runs in her family that will turn her into a raven when she turns 21. There is a lot going on in this story. Mainly about sometimes the object of your desire are not great people and it’s cool to just realize you have grown past high school crushes. I felt for Wilhelmina who is constantly told how unattractive she is, and is dealing with losing both her parents and not realizing if the whole curse thing is real or not real. There are several scenes though that I just cracked up at, mostly at the end.
“Alone on Halloween” by Michael Gore (5 stars)-What a great story. The only criticism that I do have is that I wanted more backstory on what exactly Nick did. We know that he is very into Halloween and that last year he did something “bad” that resulted in some deaths. But I wanted to know more. The whole story and how it unwound was great. You kept thinking the story was going some way, but then it changed. It does a nice job of really giving you the feeling of a town in the midst of Halloween and a young teen who is troubled by something he did in the past and wants to do better. Only question is, will he be allowed to.
“Dance of Masks and Fire The Witchfinder’s Shadow by Greg Patrick (4.5 stars)-I really do like how this story showcased lines from other famous works dealing witches and other scary things such as “The House of the Seven Gables” and “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow”. But the excerpts started to take me out of the main story too much for me to give it a full 5 stars. I wanted to more fully follow the story of the witchfinder and the witch who cursed him. It’s definitely a more horror filled story than some of the others.
“Trick or Treat: Once Upon a Hunter’s Moon” (3.5 stars)-This one had a lot of typos through it. Since the preceding story followed a Mr. Elmer and then this one mentioned one too so I thought the stories were connected, but then realized the man’s name changed to Mr. Elmore. I thought the overall story though, a man who is about to be turned into a trick or a treat was solid, but I needed once again more backstory to fully get into this one.
“The Halloween Seances” by E.W. Farnsworth (1 star)-Four friends getting together for a séance on Halloween. I can’t say I really enjoyed this one. Some of the wording at times made the story sound old fashioned which made it hard to get into. It just felt like a badly written play after a while. Also no one would call themselves or they family “gypsies” and I really went huh on that even being including. There were also typos in it too that did make it a bit hard to stay in the story.