Thursday 8 October 2020

Book Review: Halloween Horror: Volume 2

Book Review: Halloween Horror: Volume 2

Review Written by Casey Douglass

Halloween Horror: Volume 2

It’s that time of the year again, that time when Halloween decorations and sweets are the only thing stopping the stores going all out “Christmas manic.” I actually would prefer it if Halloween was a far bigger deal, and Christmas went and “did one”, but that’s just me. If you are a fan of spooks, pumpkins and people meeting messy ends, this book review might just hint at something nice to put into your treat bag. Just don’t let the chocolates melt onto it. DBND Publishing’s Halloween Horror: Volume 2 is an anthology of 22 tales that feature many of the elements that Halloween is known for: chocolates and sweets, tricks, and strange creatures visiting our plane of existence.

Some tales feature sinister games that end up containing a hint of truth. Others feature strange trick or treaters that aren’t quite like the others that knock on your door. Yet others feature strange time loops, ghosts, and cookies with a sinister secret. Each story is told very well and all of them set the scene in such a way that it’s clear how much the authors love Halloween. If you think the reader must surely end up with pumpkin fatigue or “trick or treat-itus”, it’s not something that I noticed myself. Even stories that may share a few elements use them to their own ends. This was great to see.

As I do with most of my reviews, I’ll highlight three or four stories that I particularly enjoyed. The first is Last Treat of the Night by Cullen Monk. Two young children return from a night of trick or treating. Their parents are preoccupied with getting them to bed before “the final one arrives”. It is then discovered that they aren’t ready for this mysterious guest, and a sequence of events results in the children being home alone, just at the moment that this ominous visitor pounds upon the door. I enjoyed this tale as it leaves a fair bit to the imagination, and it did a great job of giving me the creeps.

Trick’r Treats Himself by Daniel Hale is the next story that I loved. It features Jack reforming in his grave, returning from the Hallowed Realm to see how things are going on Halloween night. He is concerned that the “air should be frigid with goblins about their wicked work.” Things are strangely silent. His investigations lead him to find that a darker threat has settled over the nearby homes, and he decides to get to the bottom of things. This tale was enjoyable for being from the point of view of a Halloween creature, and also for the way it melded Halloween with more mundane, everyday evil. I also liked the descriptions of the goblins and what they got up to.

The Other Kids by Patrick Moody starts is as a traditional trick or treating tale but one with a nasty outcome. It opens with news clippings and statements, but when the story proper begins, it starts with some young kids, The Hilltop Crew, planning their trick or treating route for maximum efficiency. They are also preoccupied with beating “the other kids”, their mortal enemies, the kids who don't even live in the area but get brought in by cars and buses to take advantage of the sugary bounty nearby. The trouble is, this year, there are some very strange other kids around, and these aren't just a threat to the chocolate food chain, but to the lives of the people on Hilltop too. My main enjoyment from this tale came from the unsettling qualities of the “other, other kids”, and also the psychological effects that this event clearly has one of the characters.

The last story I want to mention specifically, is Final Halloween by Scott McGregor. It’s about Simon, a boy who loves Halloween, but is possibly getting a little too old to go trick or treating. He decides to visit somewhere called Orchid Woods View, a richer neighbourhood that his father always skipped when they went out in previous years. This year, Simon decides to visit, and he gets stuck in a confusing series of exchanges with the residents, the real truth of what is happening only being revealed fully at the end of the tale. I enjoyed this story for that very reason, it was a bit mind-bending but also did a great job of conveying Simon’s confusion and anger at what he thought was going on.

Halloween Horror: Volume 2 is a very enjoyable jaunt through the mental landscapes of Halloween. There are jack-o'-lanterns, costumes and candy. There is also the undead, blood and nasty tricks. It didn’t awaken in me a desire to go trick or treating, I’m not sure anything could do that. What it did do though, is leave me looking forward to Halloween this year. It has also tickled my appetite for more ghoulish Halloween horror, which I think is a fine outcome.

You can buy Halloween Horror: Volume 2 on Amazon. You can also visit DBND Publishing to see their other books. I previously reviewed Ghost Stories for Starless Nights and really enjoyed that one too.

I was given a review copy of this book.

Book Title: Halloween Horror: Volume 2

Book Author: Anthology

Publisher: DBND Publishing

Released: 04 Oct 2020

ISBN: 979-8687076371

Current Price: $13.99 (paperback) / $5.00 (Kindle) (As of on 7th Oct 2020)