Spooks! (Book)

Edited by Tina L. Jens & John Everson

312 pages

Published by Twilight Tales Press

Short story collections are, in general, a hodge-podge of eclectic styles, showcasing what the editors believe to be the best of a given author’s work. Given the nature of the beast, one never knows what to expect when picking up such a collection. Ghosts, goblins, inbred miscreants, and ghouls are but a few of the inhabitants of this collection of short stories compiled by editors John Everson and Tina L. Jens. Quite a mix, but as every collection has some binding theme, so too does Spooks!: The stories are well written and told to chill the blood.

Twenty-nine tales are Included, each with its author’s own voice and flair for the macabre. While some jump to the realm of the fantastic, others understate the terror, leaving an unsettled feeling in the stomach of the reader. While many of the names contained may seem unfamiliar, the works ring like the words of seasoned professionals, leading one to believe that many of the authors should be noted for future reference.

Standouts in this collection include “Redux” by J. A. Konrath, in which a man with a tragic past is hired to kill a woman; the haunting tale of love and betrayal “Hearken Not to the Zurry Bird’s Cry” by Edward DeGeorge; the horror of the devoutly religious by Viki S. Rollins, “I Walk Through Arid Places”; “The Portrait Room” by Barbara J. Ferrenz, in which a family secret is told through the paintings of the past; and the darkly humorous “The Death of Uncle Edgar” by Janet L. Hetherington.

Also included are a few horror-themed poems by John Weagly, Katherine Norem, and Linda Addison. While horror poetry is, at best, hit or miss, the editors have done a superb job of including poems that definitely hit with eerie emotion.

As an added treat, included are three true ghost stories. The first, by Liz Mandville Greeson, details her family’s life in an old fixer-upper that seems to have at least one permanent resident. “The Haunted Lizzie Borden House” by Lisa Mannetti was inspired by a trip taken with the author and several other horror writers to the famous crime scene. The third is an interview with Red Lion bartender John Cordwell about his encounters by Tina L. Jens.

All the pieces in this collection come together nicely as a well edited whole. Spooks! contains stories of terror ranging from subtle to overt, poetry, and true ghost stories, guaranteeing that every horror fan will find something to their liking.

4 ½ out of 5

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