Thanks to Brian James Freeman, Richard Chizmar, NetGalley, and Hydra for the advanced reader copy!
This is a solid short-story anthology! (Note: Goodreads says it is a collection, but it is not! A collection is short-stories from only one author, which can be themed.) This anthology includes short stories by Stephen King, Lisa Morton, Nell Quinn-Gibney, Norman Prentiss, Joyce Carol Oates, and a novella by Tim Curran. Not bad, right?
Stephen King gets things going with The Old Dude’s Ticker. I like how Stephen King always gives the reader history behind his stories. Cavalier magazine rejected The Old Dude’s Ticker, so Stephen King put it away for a long time. This is the first time the story has seen the light of day. The story is about Richard Drogan, a Vietnam veteran who has serious issues stemming from the war. Not trying to give anything away, but it is similar to The Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allan Poe. I really enjoyed this story, but it was predictable.
The Rich Are Different is written by Lisa Morton. Sarah Peck has made a name for herself by revealing the private lives of the rich and famous. She doesn’t know how deep their secrets go, or what price they are willing to pay to get what they desire. If I’m being honest, this was a good story, but it wasn’t as strong as some of the other stories in this anthology.
The Manicure by Nell Quinn-Gibney is about a trip to the nail salon. I don’t even want to think about my nails after reading this short story. The trip to the nail salon was supposed to be relaxing, but it wasn’t. She starts seeing flashbacks of bad experiences when it came to her nails. This short story was crazy, and I just want to wince.
The Comforting Voice by Norman Prentiss was great! This short story is about a married couple who have a baby girl named Lydia. The father-in-law and the husband do not get along. The father-in-law becomes terminally ill, and he moves in with them. Lydia can only be comforted by her grandfather’s voice. I will stop there because I don’t want to give too much away and spoil the story. The Comforting Voice is a creepy read and one of the best out of the anthology.
The Situations by Joyce Carol Oates is definitely different. It is made up of horrible situations where Daddy knows best.
The Corpse King by Tim Curran is about Samuel Clow and Mickey Kierney, two grave robbers. They dig up corpses and deliver them to doctors and medical students to dissect, study, and experiment with. The two men soon realize that something else is inhabiting the graveyards at night. Grave robbers start going missing, and some are found dead. People say that they were taken or killed by the Corpse King. This was a great read!
This anthology was solid, but it could have been better. Each story is different and brings something to the table, but some stories just made the anthology weaker overall. I really liked The Comforting Voice, The Corpse King, The Manicure, and The Old Dude’s Ticker! I just couldn’t get into The Situations and The Rich Are Different. I have wanted to read The Corpse King, but it was only released by Cemetery Dance as a signed limited edition hardcover.
I recommend this to fans of horror!