David’s Haunted Library: The Beauty Of Death

David's Haunted Library

30732852There are a lot of horror anthologies out there and it’s not always easy to find one that you think you would like. That being said sometimes you find a horror anthology that when you see it you know you can’t go wrong. The Beauty Of Death: The Gargantuan Book of Horror Tales is that book. Edited by Alessandro Manzetti, this book includes stories by such great horror authors as Tim Waggoner, John Skipp, Poppy Z Brite, Peter Straub and many more. This is one mammoth collection that all horror fans should have.

One of my favorite stories in this collection is Carly Is Dead by Shane McKenzie. This story is told from the viewpoint of a rotting corpse in a field who is being eaten by the forest animals but is still aware of what’s going on. Who would have thought you could have sympathy for a corpse. Another good hard-core gore story is White Trash Gothic by Edward Lee. This one has to do with an author who gets amnesia due to a traumatic event and he travels to where he wrote his last book to find out what happened. I loved how Mr. Lee makes you feel compassion for the author and then throws him into a bizarre situation that will make you fear going to a small town.

Another one of my favorites was Calcutta, Lord Of Nerves by Poppy Z. Brite. This one is about a boy born in Calcutta, he is moved to America but returns after his father dies and the zombie apocalypse starts. In Calcutta things are so bad it’s hard to tell the poor people from the zombies and weird things happen as we find out that the zombies may be worshiping an old God. My favorite scene in the book is when the lead character excepts that zombies are just part of the world now and he doesn’t think they’re that bad.

It’s really hard to pick favorites in this book and if I wrote about each story here this review would be a book in itself. Other stories that stood out for me were The Office by Kevin Lucia which is a psychological horror story about a  man who relives his life through his favorite place, his office. Another one is No Place Like Home by JG Faherty which follows a man who bought a haunted house that changes his life for the better. Things get bloody though when someone tries to get him to give it up. In The Garden is one by Lisa Morton that really got to me. In this one a woman lives in a house and is taking care of her crippled brother when something in her garden causes him to get better, I loved how Lisa made you feel compassion for the lead character and then hits you with a shock ending.

The Beauty Of Death deserves a spot on every horror fans book shelf. When I first saw it I knew I had to have it and I wasn’t disappointed. This book reminded me of The Year’s Best Horror anthologies that come out each year, but The Beauty Of Death has more to offer. Every story here has the anatomy of a good horror story and focuses on characters dealing with their worst fears and considering its length it will keep you scared and reading for a long time.

 

 

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Midnight Echo and After The Fire

ME9_cover-724x1024Not to long ago I had the privilege of reading and reviewing Midnight Echo magazine issue 8. Midnight Echo is the official magazine of the Australian Horror Writers Association. Midnight Echo comes out about twice a year. Each issue contains over 100 pages of horror literature, art, poetry, a regular column on understanding poetry, author interviews, articles on movies and a  vampire comic called Allure of the Ancients which is illustrated by the author from episode 91 of Horror addictsGreg Chapman.
The theme for issue 9 of Midnight Echo is mythology.  The issue contains an article on Russian mythology and every story in the magazine deals with mythological creatures. Some of the stories in this magazine include Changeling by Jonathan Mayberry which is about shape shifters, The Wee Folk by JG Faherty about a group of little people who live in the woods and kill those who bother them and there is another great story by the name of Little Boy, Little Girl Lost In The Woods by Mark Patrick Lynch which gets into witches and Hansel and Gretel. This story shows how much fun fairy tales can be with a horror twist thrown in.

My favorite story is The Fathomed Wreck To See by Alan Baxter which takes a look at the myth of Sirens. This story is so amazingly good that I’m dying to ruin it so I can talk about it, but I won’t because I really think you should buy Midnight Echo issue 9 and read it for yourself.  The story is about a man named Dylan who is having problems with his wife and a Siren who wants Dylan to herself.  This is a love story but it looks at the dark side of love and is not one of those make you feel good kind of love stories.

Proving that Midnight Echo is not your normal horror magazine is the regular column called Tartarus by Charles Lovecraft which helps explain how metre and resonance are used in dark poetry. There is also a great article on movies based on Australian myths including films about a haunted house and one about an Aboriginal spirit that feeds on animals, women and children called the Bunyip. The magazine also includes articles on Middle Earth mythology, an interview with the creator of the comic Killeroo and an interview with author James A Moore.

Midnight Echo is an excellent horror magazine. This magazine is for the hard-core horror fan, the type that can’t go to long without reading a good horror story or watching a horror movie. It’s also for the people who are always on the look out for great horror fiction, art, and interviews with the people who make them. If you’re not a hard-core horror fan you might not be able to appreciate it, but If you live and breathe horror,  you owe it to yourself to buy a copy.

18144958I also recently read After the Fire by D. Alexander Ward. Things started simple enough, two boys named Frankie and Lane at the age of 12 decide to go on a little adventure. There is a house in their town known as the witch house and they decide to explore it while the witch is out-of-town.

They break into the witch’s house and see things that they’ve never witnessed before. They hear a noise in the attic and decide to investigate and see something that makes their worst nightmares seem tame. In a rush to escape the witch’s house they knock a candle down and start a fire and Lane is killed in the blaze.

As an adult Frankie is plagued by constant nightmares of that day. Some horrors never go away and have a tendency to ruin your life. Will he come to terms with what he saw in that house, and the death of his friend or will the nightmares haunt him for the rest of his life?

After The Fire is a psychological horror story that looks at how one horrific event can affect your life forever.  There is some great and disturbing imagery in this book. The way the witch’s house is described was excellent, including the pictures of post death Victorian corpses that the house contains. This is a good tale about redemption and confronting your personal demons. Its also a short read with great characters, a lot of action and enough spooky atmosphere and gore to keep horror fans happy.

Gothic Blue Book and The Cemetery Club

If you like horror stories that are short and sweet you should check out Gothic Blue Book The Haunted Edition from Burial Day books . This is a collection of 12 short horror stories and two poems edited by Cynthia and Gerardo Pelayo. This anthology honors the gothic story and includes old ghost stories and tales of misery, fear, despair, regret and dread. This collection would make Edgar Allan Poe proud. Don’t expect a lot of happy endings in this book.

Gothic Blue Book: The Haunted Edition is a tribute to the Gothic blue Books that came out in the late 18th and 19th century. These books included several short stories and were between 36 and 72 pages long. They were very cheap and not well liked by literary critics; despite that they were very popular.

When I started reading Gothic Blue Book, I didn’t think I would enjoy it as much as I did, but there were quite a few good stories in the book. The first story is a poem which sets the mood for the whole book. Its by Helena Marie Carnes Jeffries and called The Beach House. It describes the emotional state of a woman who has just found out her husband is cheating on her. The depressed woman is walking on a beach and sees a very familiar looking woman in an abandoned beach house. Thinking the woman needs help she decides to go inside but doesn’t like what she finds, but maybe it was what she was looking for. I loved how the woman’s thoughts we’re described in this poem and how well written it was.

Another good story in this anthology was The Tapping by John Everson. This one was about three men who make a bet on who can be the first one to retrieve a skeleton’s hand from a graveyard so they can use it in a prank. This story was the kind of story I love to read as a horror fan. The way the graveyard is described and the main character’s fear as he starts to think he is not alone in the crypt are what horror is all about. Three men in an old graveyard digging up corpses on  a windy cold Halloween night in an attempt to scare a co worker. What can be more fun than that and of course nothing can go wrong when you disturb the dead. right?

Some other good stories in this collection include The Realtor, which tells the tale of a salesman trying to make a quota by creating a few urban legend. This one had me feeling sorry for the Realtor but also hoping his victim didn’t die. I also liked Where The Fault Lies by Greg Mollin and The Squatter by M.N. Hanson. Both are great ghost stories with very different moods and endings.

My favorite story in Gothic Blue Book was The Gravedigger by Cynthia Pelayo. It tells the story of a woman named Madeline who just doesn’t fit into society but tries to make everyone around her happy. When she finds out that someone has been using her, she decides to get her revenge by reenacting a death scene which is a  tribute to a very famous horror author. Madeline is a character that if you’ve ever felt like an outsider you will be able to relate to and I would like to see some longer stories with her in it. I highly recommend Gothic Blue Book The Haunted Edition and you will find it for 99 cents on amazon. So what are you waiting for, go get it.

The next book I want to talk about is from Journalstone publishing called The Cemetery Club by JG Faherty. The story is about four 16 year old kids who hang out in the Cemetery and call themselves The Cemetery Club. One day they accidentally unleash an ancient evil in the form of small monsters that look like aliens on the small town of Rocky Point. These creatures are vicious and spread their evil by climbing inside people’s mouths and turning them into zombies. The four kids defeat the evil but one member of the club spends 20 years in an insane asylum while another becomes an alcoholic. Now 20 years later, the evil has returned and only The Cemetery Club can stop it.

While I really did enjoy this story I do have to say that most of what is written in The Cemetery Club has been done and redone in several other novels. One book it reminded me of was Stephen King’s It. Even though the story will seem familiar to you this book is still well worth your time. All of the action scenes are well done. I also loved how the cemetery is described and how the creatures are described. The atmosphere in this book is spooky and stories about evil in a small town just never gets old.

My favorite part of the story is how JG Faherty presents the relationship between the four members of The Cemetery Club. You get to know them as teenagers and then you get to see them become very different people as 36 year olds. Despite there different paths in life and the fact that they haven’t talked to each other in years when there is trouble you see them come together and show that they never stopped being friends despite the passage of time.

The character with the most interesting story in this book was Todd. The idea of him coming home after 20 years in the mental hospital and trying to lead a normal life appealed to me and I felt a lot of sympathy for him.  I think JG Faherty was using Todd to make a point about how horribly people with mental health issues get treated.  The author describes quite a bit of illegal testing on the mental hospital’s patients and makes a point about how horribly humans treat other humans. This sets The Cemetery Club apart from other novels with similar stories and makes it a great book.