A diverse collection of ghost stories based on actual legends, making it all the more interesting, fun, and just plain scary.
This book was a complete pleasure to read, and what a perfect time of year to do so. Part of the reason that I got so excited about this collection is that each of the stories is prefaced with a bit about each of the authors, and then concluded with a little snippet by the author about how he/she has come to write the story and the legend it was based upon. I clamor over stuff like this.
The fact that these stories have a foot in reality and are set currently is even more appealing to me. I do like horror which I can personally relate to. Better yet is that it is a fairly diverse collection, taking legends from South America and Mexico, the UK, US/Native American, Japan, the Caribbean, the Ukraine, Vietnam, and India. Its diversity is an aspect which has an immense appeal for me.
Now onto the good bits! Here are a few sentences (with no spoilers) on each of the stories based on ghost legends from around the world, with my personal favorites designated with asterisks.
"Knickerbocker Holiday" ~ by Richard Bowes. This story is based upon the headless horseman. It is set currently and feels like it may be a chapter from a book which the author may be publishing. It is GLBT.
*** "That Girl" ~ by Kaaron Warren. *** Based around a local urban legend of a young woman who appears in local taxi cabs. Eerily it has links to an insane asylum making it all the more disconcerting.
"Akbar" ~ by Kit Reed. Based on a legend from India, it is set in an ancient abandoned settlement built into the desert walls of a canyon. It has a haunting of sorts.
“The Spring Heel” ~ by Steve Pirie. This is a very dark tale about a homeless woman set in the locale of England and based upon the legend of a “Spring Heel”.
“As Red as Red" ~ by Caitlin R. Kiernan. This story is a bit more atmospheric than horrific and yet is very good. It is also GLBT.
*** "Tin Cans" ~ by Ekaterina Sedia. **** Based on an actual horrific character from Russian history which has some very interesting social ramifications, specifically on those whom assisted this “monster” with his base behaviors.
“Shoebox Train Wreck” ~ by John Mantooth A psychologically horrific tale about guilt and its connection to a train wreck. This is a heart wrenching story.
"15 Panels Depicting the Sadness of the Baku and the Jotai," ~ by Catherynne M. Valente. An unusual story with an amazing premise, which is around a bizarre and interesting myth from Japan. Valente has a writing style which is akin to poetry, and considering the subject this writing style is perfect for the story.
“La Llorona” ~ by Carolyn Turgeon. The legend of the weeping woman from Mexico and South American is a prevalent one and forms the basis for this story. It is very sad.
“Face Like a Monkey” ~ by Carrie Laben. Based upon an urban legend set in the border towns of the US of a bird/bat/monkey-like creature that is said to haunt the area and Mexico.
*** "Down Atsion Road" ~ by Jeffery Ford. *** A story the author created from his own experiences in the area where he lives. So it’s based upon a truth of sorts, and on local Native American legend which has fused into the local history.
"Return to Mariabronn" ~ by Gary A. Braunbeck. There are urban legends of ghosts roaming rural US highway all around the country. This is one, and is read below via podcast link. The reader has an incredible voice and is perfect for the season.
*** “Following Double-Faced Woman” ~ by Erzbet YellowBoy. *** A very sad and powerful tale which links a local Native American legend with drug addiction.
“Oaks Park” ~ by M.K. Hobson A personal tale set around a girl whose ghost haunts an old amusement park.
“For Those in Peril on the Sea” ~ by Stephen Dedman The author has taken reality shows to a new high in this story set on a cursed boat.
“The Foxes” ~ by Lily Hoang. Based upon a personal family legend which the author turns into a story. This is a very unusual telling and set in Vietnam.
*** "The Redfield Girls" ~ by Laird Barron. *** A group of middle aged women visit a lake cabin on their yearly summer get together. The legends attest that it is haunted or has demons in its murks. I had heart palpitations, shortness of breath, and goose pimples while reading this story. I would have to say that this was my favorite of the collection.
“Between Heaven and Hull” ~ by Pat Cadigan. This short story is set in England and is at once creepy and funny. It has a link to one of the editors. Having driven in the UK “on the wrong side of the road” and thinking about Americans attempting it makes this story particularly terrifying.
“Chucky Comes to Liverpool” ~ by Ramsey Campbell. This was not my favorite of the bunch, since Chucky creeps me out beyond annoyance. This is nothing to do with the author’s abilities and creativity, and the fact that the author connects the story to actual incidents occurring in Liverpool regarding censorship makes this story very poignant.
"The Folding Man" ~ by Joe Lansdale. I do have to say this is probably the most graphic/gory of the tales. It is also mind bending, the stuff of childhood nightmares, and very American.
All in all this is a wonderful collection. It is on the top of my list of favorite read this year at 4.5 stars. The best part is now I have 20 more authors to include in my list of books to search out and read. As I have mentioned, I have become a fan of Ellen Datlow since Spring of this year, and now have Nick Mamatas on my list as well.
We also have a special treat which includes no candy or calories - courtesy of Tor. Thank you Alexis!
In this audio clip, as mentioned above, is one of the stories read in a deep and atmospheric voice. Its so perfect for Halloween! You can download it to your computer to iTunes. Please enjoy: "Return to Mariabronn" ~ by Gary A. Braunbeck.
Attributions: The above podcast/audio file was created by Ohio State University’s CSTW Writers Talk interviews. I am not sure how long this link will be available so check it out soon!
This review will be included in the RIPV Challenge, The Speculative Fiction Challenge and The Basics.
Enjoy your Halloween weekend, and please stay tuned for one more post related to the fright season and then we change gears for the Fall.