I was fortunate enough to be asked preview a copy of Tales Of Terror And Mayhem From Deep Within The Box, edited by Charles Day and Jessica A. Weiss. This will be released by Wicked East Press mid March and will make a formal debut at the World Horror Conference in Utah next month.
The collection of stories from writers spanning the globe was an eclectic mix of suspense, classic horror, revenge stories, and even some with a Grimm’s Fairy Tale feel. They were many good stories in this anthology but I will just touch upon my favorites.
In no particular order, I start with “Delano” by Jon Michael Emory. To me, Jack in the Boxes are scary. But this author weaves a tale that is literary and a little sad. It has its spooky elements but first and foremost it’s a solid little story with a twist I didn’t see coming.
Jeremy C. Shipp’s “Balloon Boy,” “Grindylow,” by David C. Hayes, and “The Gift,” by Charles Day & The Evil Little Jester (edited by Hollie Snider), all send us supernatural (and sometimes wickedly evil) beings to take care of the villains plaguing the underdogs who sorely need help. Shipp’s evil clown friend, and Day’s Jack in the Box Jester manage to be thoroughly creepy but still will win the hearts of readers. Who says the good guy can’t be a demented clown or jester? Grindylow’s monster that was formed from tears was a beautifully symbolic creation to punish a neglectful parent.
“Clown Alley,” by Bruce Turnbull had a Tell Tale Heart feel to it. The main character, a circus clown, cannot forgive himself for an (justifiable in my eyes) incident. And just when you think his fear and guilt are all his head…you realize some evil can’t be snuffed out.
In our food category, Eric Dimbley’s “The Sandwich Artist,” which I found to be beautifully written and delightfully sinister, “Alpha Bet,” by Frank Endert, and “Threshold,” by Suzanne Robb made me glad that I’m mostly a vegetarian. These stories were all disturbing-in a good way- and the authors have a knack for getting under your skin.
What I especially liked about this collection was that the stories were not all supernatural. Many dealt with, and demonstrated in gory detail, the horrors of humans. “U.R.O,” but Scott Urban reminded me of Deliverance, but with a State Trooper. “Cruciform” by Douglas Rinaldi pushed me to the edge of discomfort, but was so well done I had to keep reading. “Trust,” by Peter Giglio started with two characters, long time friends, on a car ride. Giglio gives us a false sense of security that whatever evil lurks will come from the outside, but human nature being what it is, well, you’ll have to read it but it’s an apt psychological snapshot of the dangers of unrequited love.
“Throw Back,” fits nicely into the “Ick!” category. Mark Kurtz did a wonderful job, portraying in redneck detail, a young man who is unaware of his repulsive nature and bops along oblivious until…well, actually he never quite gets it, which is what makes the story memorable.
“Rest Stop,” by Tara Sayers, follows a character running for her life. As the woman’s confusion grows about her situation, so does ours. As she wonders if she’s becoming unhinged, her fear and panic is relayed nicely onto the page. Well done Tara Sayers!
“The Last cold Day,” by Craig Saunders caught me by surprise at the end. The writing was solid and the descriptions vivid and compelling. As was intended by Saunders, I’m sure, the whole time I was reading, I thought I knew what was happening. But that was not the case. Nice twist.
And finally, “Material Possession,” by Gregory L. Norris. I saved this for last because Greg’s stories are always wonderful. I knew his tale would live up to his usual brilliance and it did. The thing about Greg’s writing is that no matter the topic, his sense of atmosphere and characterization is so strong and so refined that you instantly forget you are reading. Within a few lines you are transported to the character’s world, watching his actions, feeling his OCD, growing frustrated right along with him at the continual intrusion of gifts and boxes in a home he works so hard to make his own. Greg’s work, as always, was a pleasurable read and one that always raises the bar in its literary content.
Wicked East Peess has collected some fine works here and I hope the book and the press does really well with it.