Published October 7, 2013
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads
A crow with a taste for blood, a computer playing a deadly game, a terrifying Mothman, and a killer refrigerator, among many other bizarre and frightening villains feature in these dark, suspenseful short stories. An unlikely team of heroes includes a zombie and son of a witch. On a devastated planet, a young princess fights for her life, seeking hope for her people. A man whose bodily functions elicit a broad range of powerful emotions begs for death before his anger-inciting burps cause the world to destroy itself. A struggling “ghost-relocation expert” makes a deal with a murder victim only to discover he’s made a deal with something else entirely.
Some of the stories are simple suspenseful fun, while others flirt with a deeper darkness, exploring the minds of murderers and sexual predators. A few feature characters from full-length novels, no doubt hoping to pique the reader’s interest. Most compelling in this vein is the story of the Beggar Princess and her desperate resistance against powerful enemies who would destroy her people and home by titled “The Last Carnivale” by Vicki Keire. “Trevor,” the story of a bored spaceship computer who wreaks havoc on its crew was another highly enjoyable tale, though a little dark.
It should also be noted that 10% of the proceeds from this collection and its sister collection titled After Dark, will be donated to selected No-Kill shelters across the USA.
Severe; moderate frequency.
In one story a man briefly confesses to abuse committed on him by his mother. He makes love to a woman he has just met. The scene is brief and includes some sensual descriptions. A woman discusses falling in love with and sharing an intimate relationship with another young woman. In another story, a terminally ill prostitute recounts his life, beginning with abuse at the hands of a church leader. Details are brief. Other stories reference sex or characters off-scene who are having sex, but do not describe the events in detail.
In one story a group of unlikely heroes must recover a stolen religious symbol which contains power of both Heaven and Hell before forces of either side can get their hands on it. A demon and angel emerge as characters but without the context of much Christian doctrine, and neither side is seen as good. Another story features characters who sense ghosts and ghostly presences. In still another story the protagonist finds himself surrounded by friends and acquaintances who’ve departed before him. He wonders, as the crowd contains those who’ve helped and who’ve hurt him, whether he is in Heaven or Hell.
Several stories feature fierce attacks against protagonists, though most are brief with regard to details and only some are deadly. One story features a computer as its mass killer. Two stories reveal the identities of serial killers and describes the death of the latest victims. In one story, the victims are mutilated (details are brief, and bodies are discovered by police, so there is no little description of what happened to the victims at the hands of the killer.) Two stories feature characters who commit suicide.
At least one story delves into cocaine addiction, and a character overdoses on illegal drugs in a suicide attempt.
Note: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.