Horror October: Hark! The Herald Angels Scream #BookReview #ShortStoryAnthology

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harkreview

Hark! The Herald Angels Scream // Christopher Golden (Editor) // October 23rd 2018 // Anchor Books // Goodreads

A collection of Christmas-themed horror stories!? What could be better! It’s like ordering two desserts. You know it’s in no way good for you, but you just want to do it anyway. 

You could be forgiven for dismissing this book based on the cover. It screams cheap and nasty, doesn’t it? But rest assured, the contents of this book are total class. There’s a mix of established horror/paranormal writers and some new names (well, to me anyway), and I was pleasantly surprised by every single one of them.

There’s a terrifying home invasion story to kick us off, a very, very, weird babysitter, a potty-mouthed robot dog and a haunted hotel room to name but a few story-lines, and they’re all fun and creepy in very different ways. 

The one that stood out the most to me was Love Me by Thomas E. Sniegoski – a writer that was new to me. It’s a creepy-ass tale about a desperate man who plans to rob an old pawn/antiques shop. When he breaks in, the lady who owns it and lives above, catches him in the act and invites him upstairs. Now, this isn’t quite the tale of revenge it seems to be. Without ruining it too much for you, it involves a stuffed toy, with teeth, who just wants to be loved. So wrong, but so good!

Usually when reading anthologies, I end up skipping some of the stories, and I fully expected to do that here too, but there honestly wasn’t a dud story amongst them, and each one made me want to finish it from the off. Golden has done a great job in selecting these. If you like horror, and you like (or hate, actually) Christmas, then this is the book for you!

I feel well and truly in the spirit now. I’m just not sure if it’s for Halloween or Christmas! Oh let’s face it, it’s both!!!

horroctrating-5

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Seize the Night: New Tales of Vampiric Terror by Christopher Golden (editor) #HorrorOctober

HorrorOct2015

seizethenight
Title: Seize the Night
Author: Edited by Christopher Golden, stories by Charlaine Harris, John Ajvide Lindqvist, Sherrilyn Kenyon and many more.
Edition: Digital ARC, 544 pages
Publication Details:
Genre(s):Horror; Short Stories
Disclosure? Yep! I received a free advanced copy in exchange for an HONEST review.

Goodreads //

A blockbuster anthology of original, blood-curdling vampire fiction from New York Times bestselling and award-winning authors, including Charlaine Harris, whose novels were adapted into HBO’s hit show True Blood, and Scott Smith, publishing his first work since The Ruins.

Before being transformed into romantic heroes and soft, emotional antiheroes, vampires were figures of overwhelming terror. Now, from some of the biggest names in horror and dark fiction, comes this stellar collection of short stories that make vampires frightening once again. Edited by New York Times bestselling author Christopher Golden and featuring all-new stories from such contributors as Charlaine Harris, John Ajvide Lindqvist, Scott Smith, Sherrilyn Kenyon, Michael Kortya, Kelley Armstrong, Brian Keene, David Wellington, Seanan McGuire, and Tim Lebbon, Seize the Night is old-school vampire fiction at its finest.

Review

I was super excited to read this new anthology. 1. Because it would be perfect for Horror October 2. Because Hallelujah! A book packed with stories about vampires as they should be – scary, gory, and eviiiiil? Yes please. 3. Christopher Golden, who I’m aware of from his Buffy the Vampire Slayer novelisations. Perfect.

Unfortunately, I think I may have hyped myself up about Seize the Night a bit too much, resulting in a let down. For one, it was soooo long I thought it was never going to end, but mainly the issue I had was that it simply didn’t deliver on its promises.

I didn’t find any of the short stories scary, nor the vampires in them terrifying. I was also pretty annoyed that I wouldn’t actually class a lot of these stories as vampire ones. There were strange soul-sucking shadows and flesh-eating creatures, and I like that all the stories weren’t about traditional vampires, but I would have liked more of them to be. I was craving them!

However, I’m not saying these stories were bad, in fact I really enjoyed a handful of them once I readjusted my expectations in terms of content (not quality of writing).

The stories that stood out to me were On the Dark Side of Sunlit Basin by Michael Koryta, about a man who fancies himself as a big game hunter and enlists the expertise of a Native American guide, only to ignore his warnings of a superstitious legend. The Neighbours by Sherrilyn Kenyon, a short, simple tale of a possible serial killer next door, which was a bit clichéd but fun, and Mrs Fondevant by Charlaine Harris, which surprised me as I couldn’t stand her writing in the Sookie Stackhouse books.

My favourite story in this collection however, was, by far, Paper Cuts by Gary A. Braunbeck. I’d not heard of this author before but will be sure to check him out now. This unique story is about a charming elderly bookseller who has dedicated his life to helping others by sacrificing a little of himself every day…

I was impressed by both the idea and the writing, and found it interesting, exciting and also very sad. Loved it!

So there you have it, an extremely hit and miss anthology for me. If it wasn’t marketed as ‘Tales of Vampiric Terror’, I think I may have enjoyed it more, but I came away quite disappointed despite some great individual stories.

unicorn rating 2