Anthology of Horror Short Stories
by Connie Di Pietro (Editor), Kevin Craig (Goodreads Author) (Contributor), Yvonne Hess (Contributor), Kate Arms (Goodreads Author) (Contributor), Mel E. Cober (Goodreads Author) (Contributor), Dale R. Long (Goodreads Author)(Contributor), A.L. Tompkins (Contributor), Tobin Elliott (Goodreads Author)(Contributor) , Pat Flewwelling (Goodreads Author) (Contributor), Samantha Banik (Contributor), Robert E. Walton (Contributor)
Paperback: 300 pages
Published by: ID Press Publishing in December 2016
Available from: Amazon.ca Amazon.com Indigo/Chapters/Kobo
Life is change.
Children become adults. Summer becomes winter. The old pass from life to death. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust.
But to some, life is purgatory. A place of temporary suffering between this world and the next.
In these eleven stories, every painful, frightening transition is driven by a single element.
That element is Purgatorium.
I confess! I know each of the 10 authors in this collection personally. I met them all at various writing events across Ontario over the past seven years. I have previously read work by Kevin Craig, Pat Flewwelling and Tobin Elliott, but I’ve never had the pleasure of reading anything by anyone else in this collection, so I was excited to get my hands on this book. I’m a huge fan of horror. I actually enjoy reading it and get quite excited if an author can write a story that can actually scare me or freak me out. In this collection of 11 stories, there were a few stand-out stories that I thought were fantastic, well written and made me keep reading WAY past my bedtime. To be honest, I read each and every story in this collection twice, and found the stories to be all intriguing in their own way and highly entertaining, which is exactly what I want out of a book.
My favourite short story in Purgatorium was “Fight or Flight” by Tobin Elliott. To me, horror is most alive when the topic of the story is about controlling the real-life demons found in our everyday ordinary life. This one is the scariest story of all, because I actually know a few people quite similar to the main character in this story. They live amongst us, just waiting to do something outrageous and horrific to someone else. Quite often, we don’t know why they do it, and sometimes, neither does the monster himself. It was a brilliant story, Tobin. I loved it.
My second favourite story was called “Pieces”, a collaboration of two authors, Robert Edgar Walton and Tobin Elliott writing about the brilliant minds of two evil mad scientists and the battle for who has the upper hand and control over their experiments. These two authors need to write a novel together, as their minds work wonderfully when they are joined.
Best visual has to go to the story, “Terminal” by Robert Edgar Walton. I could picture this story from start to finish; watching the stress develop into full-blown panic as the main character figures out what the heck is going on. It reminded me of an old Sci-Fi Horror movie called “The Blob”, that I watched at a drive-in theatre the year I got married (the first time around). It rated right up there with the movie “Jaws” for freaking me out.
The story that caused me to read the fastest (and give me a brain cramp), because I needed to know the ending immediately, goes to “Mule” by Pat Flewwelling, with excellent descriptions throughout the action scenes and of course, I always love reading about blood… and murder.
The creepiest story with the best ending goes to “Unstrung” by Connie Di Pietro. As I read this story, I kept nodding my head up and down wondering this question about the author: “Is she going to go there?” Yep, she did. Loved it! I think this could be a psychological thriller movie… or a novel.
In the story “Carousel Eyes”, author Yvonne Hess took a happy object that everyone loves to see (and touch and ride at every Fall Fair or amusement park) and turned it into something I never want to look at again. Seriously, I won’t be able to glimpse into the eyes of any animal on a merry-go-round without thinking about her story and wondering, “What if?” Great job.
A.L. Tompkins gave us a nice little twist in this haunted house story by merging a little Japanese Folklore into it. “Nekomata” was the story that taught me something I didn’t already know. I love being educated, especially about creatures with frightening supernatural power. The only Japanese culture I have been aware of up to this point in my life was based on “Sailor Moon”, a Japanese shōjo manga series written and illustrated by Naoko Takeuchi. Well done, Amanda… I feel smarter now.
Kate Arms, author of “Blood Pies” already had me shaking my head no in the first few paragraphs, and thinking, “Don’t do that Victoro. Don’t deliver pizza to THAT place!” But, it wouldn’t be labeled as a horror short story, if the main character didn’t have to go to the spookiest place in town, that late at night… Alone.
In “Victim of Love”, Samantha Banik had me falling back through time with words such as Lady, My Lord, carriages, horses, darkness, chains, chills and whispers… and Transylvania. Excellent story.
Kevin Craig always entertains me with everything he writes, and the story, “Dubious Pickles” was no different. It was a wonderful tale about a magical boy who was not quite right (according to everyone else in town) and another boy, that let his curiosity get the best of him. They end up in a mysterious mansion where things take a weird turn, taking secrets and magic to a whole new freaky level.
Sometimes, little girls hear more than their parents’ nagging… sometimes they hear evil voices, encouraging them to do things they shouldn’t do. In the story “Ivy” by Mel E. Cober, you get to glimpse the world from a child’s perspective, a child who is caught up in a dangerous dark place, which takes her to a place of doom. After reading this story, you may want to keep one eye on your child at all times, just in case.
Overall, even though I read this entire book sitting in a dark basement, holding a small flashlight, ALONE, on Friday the 13th, I still didn’t read anything that jarred me enough to cause me any frightening nightmares… although, maybe that’s a good thing? So, for the people who say “I can’t read horror, it’s too scary!” I think you should give this a try. Purgatorium is an excellent anthology of horror stories that will make you think twice about what is “outside the box” in the horror genre. Not everything needs to scare you like “The Shining”, for it to be a great read. It is definitely worth your time to read it.
My Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars
... because I love reading short stories (any genre)... because I love reading anthologies (any genre)... and basically because I love to read and support other writers & authors that I know personally. If they deserve recognition for their work (their storytelling captures my squirrel mind), then I will shout it out to the world and hopefully, someone will listen. I think you should read this book too. :)
Photo on the right:
Sitting in a dark basement
On a Wednesday evening
With one hand on my flashlight
The other holding Purgatorium
The Element of Horror...
It's going to be a memorable night. ~ Lori Twining