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review 2018-02-15 17:46
Perhaps one day in the future...
Haunted Nights - Lisa Morton,Ellen Datlow

I have learned a few things about myself as a reader over the course of last year. Anthologies, for me, are either a complete hit or a definite miss...and usually it's the latter. I got to page 129 of this book before I decided to give it a pass. I read the first 7 short stories and it wasn't the writing that was putting me off (that was quite good) it was more that I just wasn't in the mood to continue. This may have been due in part because I had inundated myself with way too many supernatural books (it was Halloween time if you recall) and the short story collection Fearsome Creatures of the Lumberwoods blew me away SO hard. The common thread running through the stories in Haunted Nights was that they were all set on Halloween night which was a really cool idea.


I want to give a shout out to the story "The Seven Year Itch" because that one was SUPER creepy and was my favorite of the few that I read. I'll most likely check out some of the writers from this anthology in the future. :-)

Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
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text 2017-12-19 18:45
Char's Horror Corner: Top Ten Anthologies/Collections of 2017
The Secret of Ventriloquism - Jon Padgett
Garden of Fiends: Tales of Addiction Horror - Johann Thorsson,Max Booth III,Glen Krisch,Jessica McHugh,Kealan Patrick Burke,Mark Matthews,Jack Ketchum
The Valancourt Book of Horror Stories: Volume Two - Nevil Shute,Mary Elizabeth Braddon,Michael P. Kube-McDowell
Haunted Nights - Lisa Morton,Ellen Datlow
Dark Screams: Volume Six - Stephen King,Norman Prentiss,Richard Chizmar,Brian James Freeman,Joyce Carol Oates
20th Century Ghosts - Joe Hill,Christopher Golden
Halloween Carnival Volume 5 - Lisa Tuttle,Kevin Quigley,Norman Prentiss,Richard Chizmar,Brian James Freeman
The Ghost Club: Newly Found Tales of Victorian Terror - William Meikle
For Those Who Dream Monsters - Anna Taborska,Steve Upham,Charles Black,Reggie Oliver,Reggie Oliver
DIS MEM BER and Other Stories of Mystery and Suspense - Joyce Carol Oates


I've read a ton of great short story collections and anthologies this year, making it difficult to limit my post to only ten. But I think I've managed to do a decent job of it, so without further ado, here's my top ten. (Click the book covers below to see my original review.)


1.  The Secret of Ventriloquism - Jon Padgett  This collection still haunts my dreams. I know I'll be reading it again.


2Garden of Fiends: Tales of Addiction Horror - Johann Thorsson,Max Booth III,Glen Krisch,Jessica McHugh,Kealan Patrick Burke,Mark Matthews,Jack Ketchum  An anthology featuring stories of addiction.These tales are disturbing, fun and gross all at one time!  Featuring some of the best horror authors of today, you can't go wrong with this intense anthology.


3. The Valancourt Book of Horror Stories: Volume Two - Nevil Shute,Mary Elizabeth Braddon,Michael P. Kube-McDowell  Once again, Valancourt Books puts together a stellar anthology, featuring the likes of Michael McDowell, Stephen Gregory and R. Chetwynd-Hayes to name just a few. James Jenkins and Ryan Cagle both have a keen eye for excellent horror and they don't just hand us the same old, same old. 


4. Haunted Nights - Lisa Morton,Ellen Datlow  Edited by Ellen Datlow and Lisa Morton. I have to admit this anthology knocked my socks off. All of these tales are connected by Halloween, be it the Halloween we celebrate here in the US, or the different ways it is celebrated across the world. This is the anthology that surprised me the most this year. (In a good way!)


5Dark Screams: Volume Six - Stephen King,Norman Prentiss,Richard Chizmar,Brian James Freeman,Joyce Carol Oates  I read a number of the Dark Screams series this year, but this one was my favorite. Featuring stories by Tim Curran and Norman Prentiss, Dark Screams: Volume Six stood out the most to me. 


620th Century Ghosts - Joe Hill,Christopher Golden  This was Joe Hill's first published book. I loved it! It features the story Pop Art, which is one of my all time favorites. 


7. Halloween Carnival Volume 5 - Lisa Tuttle,Kevin Quigley,Norman Prentiss,Richard Chizmar,Brian James Freeman  Like the Dark Screams anthologies, I read a number of Halloween Carnival volumes this year, but this, Volume 5, stood above the rest. Featuring stories from Richard Chizmar, Norman Prentiss (there he is again!), and Lisa Tuttle among others, this was a fun book. 


8The Ghost Club: Newly Found Tales of Victorian Terror - William Meikle  This outstanding collection features a bold premise: a group of Victorian age writers get together with the price of admission being a supernatural story. What fun! I read this last week and I'm still thinking of some of these fun tales. 


9For Those Who Dream Monsters - Anna Taborska,Steve Upham,Charles Black,Reggie Oliver,Reggie Oliver  I read this fabulous collection with my Horror Readers group and we all loved it. I had never heard of this author before reading this book and now I'm hoping to read more from her in the future.  (Plus, look at that cool cover!)


10DIS MEM BER and Other Stories of Mystery and Suspense - Joyce Carol Oates  by Joyce Carol Oates. These stories had all been previously published, but I had not read them, so they were new to me. JCO is hit or miss with me sometimes, but with Dis MEM Ber, she did not strike out. 


If you've stayed with me this far, I thank you! I hope you'll check in with me during 2018 as I tackle more horror short stories and hopefully more new authors. Thanks for reading!


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review 2017-09-07 03:07
Haunted Nights edited by Ellen Datlow and Lisa Morton
Haunted Nights - Lisa Morton,Ellen Datlow


Haunted Nights collects several previously unpublished stories from an array of excellent authors-with the bonus that they're all connected- by Halloween. It may not be exactly the Halloween that we as Americans are used to, but the seeds are still the same-whether they're sown in Scotland or Ohio. I found quite a few stories to shine for me in this anthology and here are a few of them:


John Langan's Lost in the Dark is one of my favorite types of haunting tales-the disconcerting kind. That House of Leaves eeriness combined with a cool framing device and several stories within a story all equal out to a very satisfied Char.


With Graveyard Weeds and Wolfbane Seeds by Seanan McGuire was impressive and convinced me that I need to give more of her work a try. Always remember that those Halloween tricks can get you into trouble-especially if you trick the wrong person.


A Small Taste of the Old Country by Jonathan Maberry. This one was predictable, but man, I just wanted it to happen so badly. When it did, I couldn't have been happier.


The Seventeen Year Itch by Garth Nix would have made one hell of a Twilight Zone episode. This story put me in mind of those old horror and sci-mags back in the day. There is a lot of punch, (and scratching!), packed into this short story.


A Flicker of Light on Devil's Night by Kate Jonez is a downer of a tale, but I can't deny how powerfully it was written to make me feel that way.


All Through the Night by Elise Forier Edie. What another sad, sad tale! Halloween is not all fun and games and neither is the horror genre. Sometimes it's fun and imaginative, (see The Seventeen Year Itch), but sometimes it's all too realistic. Often it's those hard to look at stories, the ones about the lives of real people and the hardships they go through, that are the most horrific of all.


The Turn by Paul Kane. This is the perfect title-because it's exactly what you want-NO-are compelled to do when you hear footsteps behind you on a dark street. But what if you would be okay, if only you didn't turn. Would you be able not to?


John Little's The First Lunar Halloween and Jeffrey Ford's Witch Hazel rounded out my favorites in this collection.


I loved the fact that ALL of these stories were new and I adored the connection they had to Halloween. I've previously been disappointed in collections where I've discovered, (too late!), that I'd already read many of the stories within. These were fresh tales and featured some fresh, (at least to me), authors, as well as some tried and true. It is my excited opinion that this anthology belongs on any horror lover's shelves-but especially to those of us that have a love of all things Halloween!


Highly recommended!


Get your copy here: Haunted Nights 


 *Thanks to the publisher and to NetGalley for this e-ARC in exchange for my honest review. This is it.* 

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review 2017-05-09 15:27
Out Oct 3
Haunted Nights - Lisa Morton,Ellen Datlow

Disclaimer: ARC via Netgalley


                Who doesn’t love Halloween?  Okay, it’s true that in some areas of the country, you will have near adults dressed in nothing more than a cheap mask ringing the doorbell and then being upset that they haven’t received a whole Snickers bar, but, hey, it’s Halloween, and look at those Princess Leias.  Brings a bit of hope about the future generation.


                But as most people can tell you, as the Princess Leias illustrate, there is also an attempt to make Halloween less scary.  Some schools have forbidden scary outfits, and most customers in my neighborhood recently have been superheroes and princesses.  (And that is another issue).  While it is understandable not to want to frighten young children, the sexualization of costumes and the move to cute, does tend to be a bit disturbing.  Look at the difference between male and female Iron Man costumes, for instance.


                Thankfully Morton and Datlow hew to the original concept of Halloween in this well edited collection.


                All the stories are set on Halloween (or on a related festival).  All the tales are spooky and focus on the darker aspect of the holiday.  Thought, it should be noted, that cute can still make an appearance in one or two tales.  But it is cute with a big bite, lots of sharp teeth, and you know, it is going to leave a scar.


                Seanan McGuire’s “With Graveyard Weeds and Wolfbane Seeds” starts the collection.  It is, on the surface, a haunted house tale (what better way to celebrate Halloween), as well as makes us of the idea of Mischief Night.  It is a good teen story too, at least in terms of the idea of needing and wanting to belong to a group.  It’s a rather quiet study of it, and while the subject matter and execution are completely different, in many ways it reminds me of Kij Johnson’s “Ponies” – the most chilling story about peer pressure ever.


                Which isn’t in this collection, but McGuire’s short story is just as good, so if you liked “Ponies”, read it.


                McGuire is followed by “Dirtmouth” by Stephen Graham Jones, a tale about fame, death, and afterlife.  To say much more would be giving a bit too much away, so I won’t.  Let’s just say, it makes a good companion piece to “The Monkey’s Paw”.


                Look, if you are over 12, and don’t know “The Monkey’s Paw,” I can’t know you.  Sorry.


                Perhaps Jonathan Maberry’s “A Small Taste of the Old Country”.  Considering the Trump’s administrations misstatements, false statements, or missteps (you can pick the word, I prefer lies) in terms of the Holocaust, Maberry’s somber story is a good rebuke to all those statements.  It also, like most good fiction, raises questions about justice, remembrance, and freedom.


                Joanna Parupinski’s tale “Wick’s End” makes good use of several folklore and tale motifs as does Kelley Armstrong’s “Nos Galen Gaeaf” (which is set in Cainsville).  Additionally, both stories make excellent use of the idea of storytelling.  Phillip Pullman’s “Seventeen Year Itch” also makes use of this idea and combines with the overuse trope of a madhouse.  Yet, he writes quite a spooky story.


                Jeffrey Ford gets bonus points for placing a tale in the New Jersey Pine Barrens but not including the Jersey Devil.  Paul Kane too plays with the sounds of footsteps, and John R. Little sets a Halloween on the moon.  Work by Pat Cadigan, Kate Jonez, S.P. Miskowski, and John Langan round out the collection.


                In all, the short stories are strong and contain a good deal of spook and spine tingles.  The emphasis is on fear rather than shock.  This isn’t to say that there is not blood, but the horror is more psychological than shock with blood spurting.  Not there isn’t the odd spurt or so.

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review 2016-04-18 00:00
The Lucid Dreaming by Lisa Morton
The Lucid Dreaming - Lisa Morton

GR Cleanup Originally Read in 2010


Spike is a 20 something violent paranoid schizophrenic who was locked away when she forgot to take her meds and went a little crazy with a knife on a homeless man. Her life consists of living in a medication muted haze surrounded by other various levels of disturbed folks. Recently her predictable world has been interrupted with an increased number of inmates and the place is getting terribly crowded. One day things are ominously quiet, her favorite nurse never arrives with her meals or meds and she ventures out to find blood smeared walls and to discover that the world has indeed gone crazy. She stockpiles her drugs to retain her sanity and fears she may be the only one immune to the “dream” epidemic.

This is a unique take on the apocalypse. People are dreaming when they’re awake and doing terrible things and you don’t have your typical cast of heroes. Spike is mentally unstable without her drugs, with them she’s a bit off kilter but not as dangerous. She hooks up with a hunk suffering from the dream sickness but she likes him because he has sweet dreams and he seems to like her too, even during his few moments of lucidity so she takes care of him. Danger looms, however, when Spike has a run-in with a band of baddies (and there’s always a group of baddies in a book like this) who are using people as slaves and/or breeders to continue on their quest to rule the new planet.

This was a well written little story that held my attention all the way through. It wasn’t overly gory, just purely entertaining mainly because of Spike’s observations. Sure, there were unanswered questions, and I’d love to read an expanded version of this story someday, but I enjoyed it for the tightly written little novella that it was.

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