Halloween Carnival Volume 1 – Brian James Freeman (editor)

πŸŽƒ Heralding Halloween Book! πŸŽƒ

Halloween Carnival Volume 1 is the first of five volumes of short stories being released in time for Halloween. Brought together by Brian James Freeman of Cemetery Dance Publications fame, this book contains five stories inspired by Halloween.

Strange Candy by Robert McCammon – πŸŽƒπŸŽƒπŸŽƒ

When Chris Parker eats the unwrapped sparkly white candy shaped like a hand he and his wife found at the bottom of his daughter’s trick or treat loot bag, he finds he’s no longer sitting in his lounge room watching his annual Halloween late night horror movie.

With messages from the dead being the ultimate focus of this story, I mostly felt sad at the grief felt by the characters. Hope was given through the messages to loved ones and it was a nice story but it didn’t really come across as a much of a Halloween story to me. The candy could have been substituted for just about anything else and the story still would have worked.

The Rage of Achilles or When Mockingbirds Sing by Kevin Lucia – πŸŽƒπŸŽƒπŸŽƒπŸŽƒπŸŽƒ

Father Ward sits meditating in the confessional on Halloween night, not expecting visitors. The story he hears that night will change him forever. Kevin Lucia’s story came with a great twist.

This was quite a sad story with themes of guilt, anger and revenge. I don’t want to give anything away but it was very well written and made me want to read more from this author.

Demon Air by John R. Little – πŸŽƒπŸŽƒ

When Halle Barry boards Diamond Air Flight 194 to Sydney on 30 October, she’s planning on finding out who she really is. When the clock strikes midnight, a series of events unfold midair that show her what she’s made of.

Demon Air read like two stories had been joined together. The first story was one of identity and I enjoyed this section. I would have liked Halle’s ancestry journey to have continued to Australia, New Zealand and Scotland. I was interested in finding out more about her history. Naturally that story wouldn’t have fit this collection.

Once Halloween began mid air, I felt the cohesiveness was lost and it tried to become a different story just to introduce the Halloween theme. Had the story been exclusively about what happened on Demon Air I would have enjoyed it more as sufficient time would have been spent setting up the scenario and playing the games on board. As it was it felt like only a few minutes of story time had occurred and then suddenly a whole day had passed. This section didn’t gel with me and the joining of the two stories felt flimsy, using Halle’s limited knowledge of Australian Aboriginal culture to determine her course of action.

La Hacienda de los Muertos by Lisa Morton – πŸŽƒπŸŽƒπŸŽƒπŸŽƒ

After thirty years of acting in cowboy movies, Trick McGrew’s career died along with Blazer, his horse, six years ago. His agent has arranged a part for Trick in a Mexican horror movie. Taking place during Day of the Dead celebrations in 1958, Trick inadvertently becomes involved in the local legend of La Llorona.

This ghost story was an interesting take on a real legend and featured the Day of the Dead celebrations. I liked the growth of the main character throughout the story.

#MakeHalloweenScaryAgain by Mark Allan Gunnells – πŸŽƒπŸŽƒπŸŽƒπŸŽƒπŸŽƒ

Dustin Davis, an author from Greer working on his latest novel, wants his #MakeHalloweenScaryAgain to go viral. He is disappointed by peoples’ apathy toward Halloween, especially those in his neighbourhood and hopes if his hashtag garners enough attention it will help generate interest in his writing.

As Halloween draws nearer locals start getting murdered, with Dustin’s hashtag featuring at each crime scene. Questioned by Officer Workman and with local reporter Shawn Moore hoping to catch his big break from this story, Dustin’s hopes for fame turn into suspicion when the people of Greer suspect he is the murderer. The killer ups the ante when they let the locals know that the family inside one house that isn’t decorated for Halloween will be murdered on Halloween night. Chaos ensues.

I really enjoyed this story. There was a creepy atmosphere and a sense of dread built throughout the story as Halloween drew closer. I liked the snippets of how different locals were dealing with the murders in their town and the interactions between Dustin, Shawn and Officer Workman. I did pick who the killer was (yay me!) but I was still entertained throughout the story.

The Rage of Achilles or When Mockingbirds Sing and #MakeHalloweenScaryAgain were my favourites in this collection.

A common theme running through this collection was that at least one character experienced loss and grief. The stories weren’t scary at all which disappointed me. I had hoped for some real fear and the closest I came to it was some creepy fun in the final story. However, they were mostly well written and they all took place around Halloween. The final story was a fun introduction to the season of scares and I look forward to reading the other four volumes.

Thank you so much to NetGalley and Random House Publishing Group – Hydra for the opportunity to read this book.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

STRANGE CANDY by Robert McCammon
Chocolate bars and sour suckers are trick-or-treat staples, but beware the odd sweet at the bottom of your bag. You never know who it’s from – or what it might do to you.

THE RAGE OF ACHILLES by Kevin Lucia
Father Ward should have heeded the warnings about hearing confession on All Hallow’s Eve. Because a man is about to tell him a secret more haunting than any he has heard before.

DEMON AIR by John R. Little
Fear of flying is not uncommon. But on this transpacific airline, the real danger isn’t the flight itself. It’s whoever – or whatever – is up in the air with you.

LA HACIENDA DE LOS MUERTOS by Lisa Morton
Trick McGrew, former cowboy star of the silver screen, has never believed in tall tales. But down in Mexico, the land of La Llorona, he’s about to find out just how real urban legends can be.

#MAKEHALLOWEENSCARYAGAIN by Mark Allan Gunnells
Some people will go to any lengths to rack up retweets, likes, and follows on social media, no matter who they end up hurting … or even killing.

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