Note: I received a free advance copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Hello all you lovely internet people! I come bearing some seriously spookalicious stuff from one of my favorite masters of mayhem. If any of you have been following this site at all, you’re already familiar with my fan-girly squeals over Mr. Greene, and you may have already read my reviews of a couple of these stories, from other collections. Most of them, however, are new to me, and I can say without reservation that each one of them is exactly the ooey gooey (and slightly oozing?) Halloween treat you’ve all been jonesing for.
As most of you know, I am not super into short stories, but Mr. Greene’s shorts somehow manage to satisfy my craving for something big & meaty. (Did that sound dirty? I feel like that sounded dirty). The author manages to describe a decade of backstory in just a few sentences, and can make you see a complete character with just a brief snippet of dialogue. And as for the plots, well… Besides loads of good, old-fashioned, bloody terror in each and every one, there are also liberal doses of heartbreak, redemption, and humor.
I can hear all of you howling and gnashing your teeth, imploring me, “yes, Nerd, the stories are great, but what are they ABOUT??” So without further ado, here’s a brief overview of each one.
Stingy Jack, Ol’ Scratch, and a Head Full of Fire: A medieval-era fire-phobic, self-pitying, manipulative, lecherous, turnip-loving drunk makes a deal with the devil (is this Nerd surprised that the devil is a fratboy? NOPE). A Halloween must-read.
Unto The Earth: A terribly toxic marriage is not what it appears to be.
Nightbound: Breaking into an abandoned mansion and finding coffins in the basement seems like a horror cliche, but there’s a whole other story here, about escaped convicts, a heist, bags of money, a sociopath, and a girl who’s prettier and greedier than she is smart.
Gramma’s House: A trio of methheads breaks into the titular house, only to enter… The Twilight Zone.
The Plagues of Winter: After a blizzard, an isolated northeastern island community finds itself dealing with much worse problems than no internet.
Guardian of the Orchard: The tale of three brothers who like to sneak into Old Man Peterson’s orchard to steal apples (and maybe have a good old-fashioned rotten apple fight once in awhile), and Old Man Peterson’s twisted, demonic act of revenge on them. Or maybe it’s about something entirely different.
Cinderblock: Once a world class boxer, always a world class boxer.
Black Cloud: If you’ve ever done something terrible, you know that the black cloud never really leaves. What you may not realize is that it might have a mind of its own.
3:33 The Bloodbird: Sibling rivalry is no joke.
How Me and Bozy Became Dads: A typical day of a group of inmates doing roadside clean-up duty becomes something entirely unexpected.
The Curse of Kirby: So let’s say you have the neighbors from hell. And you happen to bump into a Goth-ish girl who can communicate with ghosts, and sort-of control a particularly strong one. What could go wrong?
So to sum it up, this is the Halloween candy you have been craving, minus the calories. You know you want it.
The Nerd’s Rating: FIVE HAPPY NEURONS (and a full-size Milky Way bar. Seriously, whoever came up with the concept of “fun size” doesn’t understand fun.)