Every year, authors from Fiction Writing, a Facebook Group hosted by Brian Paone and Laurie Gardiner, produce a short-story anthology in the ‘Of Words’ series. This year, from Scout Media comes A Haunting of Words—the third volume in an ongoing short story anthology series featuring authors from all over the world.
If you love dark, delicious twists, this is your true home. If, as the days draw in, you fancy a plethora of shivers down your spine, this is your ultimate dream. Whether you love macabre psychological thrillers, you relish tragic romance, you want the catharsis of a heart-wrenching tear-jerker, or you want to laugh until your belly aches, there is a story for you here.
These stories will haunt you forever…
Pepe by Dawn Taylor is one of my favourites from the anthology, because the storytelling is edge-of-your-seat compelling stuff. Diane, one of the collection’s most endearing characters, is offered the chance of the promotion of a lifetime. There is just the minor snag of the malevolent clown hiding under her bed, and he doesn’t let her get a wink of sleep. And the looming threat of the apartment with the dark past. You’ll sleep with the light on after this. A page-turner.
Outlook Supplies by E.C. Jarvis is a spine-tingling time-warp tale. Really made me shudder, this one. Deven Harris is fascinated by an old curiosity shop that sells brass knockers, which gives you a clue that the old man who owns it is rather creepy. When Deven is finally lured inside, the old man leaves Deven in charge. But who is the old man, really? Chilling on so many levels.
A Wacky, Fantastical Misadventure in New Haven by William Thatch is without doubt the weirdest, oddest, quirkiest, battiest story in the whole anthology. And it hares along at an electrifying pace. After all the tragedy and gore, it provides some comic relief. Having said that, Wacky Fantastical Misadventure has some of both…but it’s presented in such a way that you have to laugh. Briefly, this story is about a man whose breakfast cereal is haunted by Adolf Hitler. Need I say more? An electrifying black comedy.
Coal Run Road by Donise Sheppard is an eerie, macabre tale about a house haunted by an abused child and her depraved family. I love how the haunting is subtly woven into the narrative, as all the events could have a rational explanation. A grumpy teenager who leaves her shoes lying around. A little girl who leaves her toys in a mess. A child with an imaginary friend, May. A mum who uses ‘old woman’ perfume. But is it just the house at Coal Run Road that is haunted? Deliciously dark.
I’m Not Sure What It Means by Ricardo Anthonio. Another favourite, and the most poignant and heart-wrenching of all the stories. One of the shortest stories, but it will ricochet round your mind. His blurb states that he writes ‘short, powerful stories’ and this one has the power of an atom bomb. It will break you out in floods of tears, trust me. Young Amelia, the narrator, fears she is not loved as much as her brother, because her birthday is not celebrated as richly. But you’ve got to read this to feel the power of it…it’s mesmerising!
Fighting Sleep by F.A. Fisher is a dark and twisted tale about a malevolent crib. You will not be able to put this one down as the tension throbs through it. You’ll just have to know how it ends. Ross knows that the crib is evil. He feels it. The question is, will anyone listen to a small boy, albeit one with a sixth sense, before the evil crib kills his baby sister Anne?
Objects in Motion by Suanne Kim: I’ve loved all the stories, but if I had to pick one from the whole anthology, it would be this one, because of the sheer vividness of the narrative and its emotional intensity. On the subway Miles meets a beautiful but enigmatic girl, Mattie, whose physical and emotional presence utterly consumes him. She seems to care for him in return, but the next day, she can’t even remember his name. Who is she, really? Is she living in the same timeplane as the rest of us? It becomes plain that living without Mattie is simply not an option for Miles, but what will he have to sacrifice to obtain her? The evocation of undying love is second to none here. Sumptuous.
Plastic Boy by Patricia Stover is a gripping and thought-provoking tale about grief, and one that leaves you reeling, as, like Le Horla by Maupassant, you have more than one plausible explanation for the strange goings on. Indulgent mother Linda’s son Jimmy has turned wayward following the death of his father. He throws tantrums in shops, smashes birthday cakes and trips his mother down the stairs. The gift of a toy castle appears to tame him. But here is the dark twist: what has it done to him and why?
Home by Laura Ings Self is another heartbreaking romance. Nicky’s world falls apart when she loses her beloved girlfriend Jenna in a car crash. The evocation here of undying devotion beyond the grave is sensitive and poignant. For Nicky this is an obsessive, crushing, all-consumptive love from which she will never be able to move on. Then Jenna returns as a ghost. But the twist in this one will knock you out of your skin. Dramatic and exhilarating.
Joe by J.M. Turner is an emotional roller coaster ride. You think it’s just grooving along, and then suddenly, you’re being spun round upside down at breakneck speed. I have never, ever, in my life seen a more vivid and poignant portrayal of a mother’s love for a child. The seemingly mundane description of a widow, her young son and a dog on an outing to the park turns into an immortal tale of a love that nothing…not time, not incapacity, not death…can ever break. You will remember this one forever.
To buy A Haunting of Words from Amazon.com, click here.
To buy A Haunting of Words from Amazon.co.uk, click here.
TO BE CONTINUED NEXT BLOG…