Edited by Brian James Freeman & Richard Chizmar
This ninth volume of the Dark Screams anthology series offers a collection of six stories from different authors. This is very much a mixed bag, and is worth reading for three of the tales, while the other three are relatively weak.
The stories included are:
Kelley Armstrong – Invitation to the Game
Stewart O’Nan – Summer of ‘77
Taylor Grant – The Dead Years
Jonathan Moore – The Blackout
Peter Straub – Variations on a Theme from Seinfeld
Lee Thomas – Torn
Invitation to the Game is a nicely creepy offering, reminding us that when something appears too good to be true, it usually is. Vivienne has an almost perfect life, working for a seemingly perfect employer. She’s offered the chance of a job promotion that she’s not sure she really wants, but finds out that sometimes you just can’t say ‘no’.
The Blackout takes us to Hawaii on a wild, stormy night, where a detective is trying to solve the disappearance of the body of a teenage girl. Her body has been taken from a morgue locker, but all indications point to somebody breaking out rather than in.
Torn is the longest of the stories, and possibly the best. A small-town America sheriff finds himself dealing with the abduction of a young girl. The ensuing manhunt leads to the arrest of a feral stranger, and a night of terror which nobody could have foreseen.
Only two of the six stories have been previously published elsewhere, which isn’t a bad ratio for a collection like this. Anthologies are a great way to find new authors. I’m glad I read this, and will be searching out the works of Moore and Thomas to read further (I’m already an Armstrong fan). It’s a short read, so there’s nothing to lose by giving it a try.
I received an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.