Finally, it’s Halloween week, and my last installment of my October experimen of reviewing one horror book a week. It’s been hectic trying to get all the reviews in while battling real life, including tonight as I’m posting hoping the power doesn’t go out. But, it’s been incredibly fun!
This week’s book is another first for me here at Unleaded: an anthology. This book is called “Tales From The Mist.” The stories and authors are Wampus Cat by Scott Nicholson, The Consuming by Rhonda Hopkins, Addiction by Marty Young, The Messenger by Cate Dean, Jade O’Reilly & the Graveyard Shift by Tamara Ward, In A Beginning by Meredith Bond, Haste by Catie Rhodes, King of Rats by Gregory Carrico, To E. A. Poe by Mitzi Flyte, An Inconvenient Debt by Natalie G. Owens, Dead Lily Blooms by *lizzie starr, Beneath Still Waters by Stacey Joy Netzel.
I would like to very briefly address each of the stories and the entire collection as a whole. Starting with Wampus Cat by Scott Nicholson, this story struck a particular chord with me as I grew up in the Appalachian foothills. I had heard stories and legends of the Wampus Cats in the woods. Wampus Cats were stories told to frighten children, but in Nicholson’s story, that myth comes to life. Even though this is a short story contribution to an anthology, I felt it needed a bit more character development before the horror element is introduced. This is a tentative step into this horror collection.
Next is The Consuming by Rhonda Hopkins. This story left me wanting to know more about the characters. The main character drew me in and made me care about her, but the secondary characters needed a bit of work. Overall, the story was well done, enjoying, and a good story to get the flow moving with the anthology.
Addiction by Marty Young left me a bit confused. I was unsure if this story was a horror story or just an “Afterschool Special.” The characters were intriguing, but left me with a very flat impression of them. There are elements that are introduced late in the story that could have enriched it if they had been introduced earlier. There was promise here, but it fell a bit short. I felt that with the slow start of Wampus Cat, this story should have been placed either second in the collection, or near the end to gently ease the reader out of the book.
The Messenger by Cate Dean does a good job of character development within a very short span. The ending is a bit predictable, but the story is very entertaining and a good addition to the anthology. Dean mixes two different types of supernatural elements in a surprising way and it is done quite well. The Messenger is a good step toward the high point of the collection.
Tamara Ward‘s Jade O’Reilly & the Graveyard Shift is the first story of the anthology to strike a true chill. The stage is set in such a way that it would be easy to see this as a movie. I really want to learn more about the other Jade O’Reilly books after this story. It has the right elements set at the right pace to set up a good scare. Don’t read this one on a dark and stormy night. I feel this story is the pinnacle of the book, even though it is not the middle story.
In A Beginning by Meredith Bond goes way back to the roots of horror stories with a new take on Lilith, Adam’s first wife. Bond’s dialogue moves the story along and gives excellent insight into Lilith and the villain Samael. Through internal thoughts and monologue, Bond gives a great insight into Adam even though he does not make an appearance in the story. The story does give one pause when trusting a stranger. In A Beginning is a nice bridge across the middle of the anthology and keeps the overall flow moving.
Haste by Catie Rhodes is straight horror reminiscient of Tales from the Crypt. The descriptions are well done and the story is “short, sweet, and to the point.” Rhodes brings forth a pair of unique ghosts unlike any I’ve seen before. Rhodes has me intrigued to read more of her work. I feel this story was appropriately placed to continue to provide the reader with the momentum built from earlier stories.
King of Rats by Gregory Carrico is a unique story with unique characters. A traditional monster is present in a surface world overrun with vampires, but unlike one would expect. Each of the participants in this drama are well crafted and entertaining right down to the Rat King’s cockroach sidekick. Carrico’s tale is just light hearted enough to keep the tone light while maintaining darker elements.
To E. A. Poe by Mitzi Flyte pays homage to one of the masters. It borrows from Poe’s stories and is appropriately set in 1845. Flyte puts a story together that has a sense and texture that would make Poe proud. What horror anthology is complete without references to Poe. Flyte’s story is unique and puts the macabre into the book.
An Inconvenient Debt by Natalie G. Owens is the epitome of the Faustian bargain. In the short pages of the story, we see a deep glimpse into both the mother and son in this story. The villain as a demon running a witchcraft store is a bit trite, but it does not take away from a well done contribution to the anthology.
Dead Lily Blooms by *lizzie starr is a well thought out and well done twisted story. Lily is a character I would definitely like to see more of as well as starr’s version of Death and one of his soul gatherers, Agaar. There are hints at the back story for Lily and Agaar both that left me wanting more. This story is a reminder, don’t cross Death. A perfect tale to usher in the end of the book, starr’s story expertly complements the others assembled here.
Beneath Still Waters by Stacey Joy Netzel gives the feel of the Blair Witch and The Twilight Zone. Netzel’s story is well crafted and quickly develops the main characters. A couple of elements are predictable, but the story recovers and carries the reader along with the heroine and shows her the danger of not believing. Beneath Still Waters is the ideal tale to end this selection of stories.
Tales From The Mist is a fun read that is a good introduction to a group of writers that I encourage you to look further into their works. I give the collection 4 out of 5 flags.