Thursday, October 29, 2015

Book Review: The Cat, The Crow, and the Cauldron: A Halloween Anthology

So it is about that time of year where many of us ask to be scared. We want chills and that feeling of something ghoulish creeping up on us out of the corner of our eye. Movies and television can try to give us that haunted feeling, and they have their moments, but nothing is quite as good as a scary story.

This short story anthology gives us more than one story, it gives us nine. Short story anthologies are underrated. I’m not sure why. Maybe people think that they need an entire novel to enjoy a good story? Those people are wrong. Drop them. You don’t need that kind of negativity in your life.

With well crafted short stories we get a tight narrative and quality characters in bite size chunks.  And this anthology delivers quality writing and addictive stories that will keep you turning the page.
In a lot of ways The Cat, The Crow, and the Cauldron is like a bag after you have been out trick or treating. You go through your bag and find that there is some candy you like, some you will eat only when there is no other candy left, and some you don’t like at first but once you try it is some of the best candy you will ever have greedily devoured all in one afternoon (Not that I do that, well maybe, just once. Okay, it was yesterday but that’s my business. And yes I regret it, but only for a little while).

To continue this metaphor (or maybe just to grind it to dust after beating it to a pulp?) there are stories with happy endings, depressing endings, some are slow to start, and others end leaving you wanting more. But I need to be clear, none of this is bad. Not every story is for every taste and these nine stories run the gamut. Messages form the past, ghosts, a demon apocalypse, psychological horror are all present. Better yet I never once felt as though I were reading someone’s rehashed vampire/werewolf fan fiction (not that there is anything wrong with it if that is your thing but I am tired of it) or poorly edited Lovecraft Tentacle Erotica (yes that is a thing, no I will not provide a link). 

Speaking of Erotica, the final story gets a little hot if that is your thing.  What I normally read doesn’t usually go in that direction, but I still thoroughly enjoyed it. If that is your thing I think you would enjoy it too. 

So to sum everything up: Halloween is Saturday and instead of watching the same movies, the same TV, or reading the same scary stories you have been reading since you were a kid go out and grab this book. It will give you something new to be afraid of in the dark. You’ll think twice when you are at the museum, second guess what you know about history, and wonder if that strange thing in the sky is a portal the herald’s an end of days through a gnashing of teeth.

And for the price (FREE!) you can’t go wrong.

A strange and wonderful collection of Halloween stories, ranging from paranormal romance to horror. 

Joe DeRouen’s “Good Fortune” teaches us a valuable lesson about why you should be very careful when you hold someone’s fate in your hands. It may come back to haunt you, just as it does for Grimsley Harkness, who dares to wish for more than he deserves. 

Celia Kennedy’s “Nothing Scares Me” takes readers on a test of endurance. Lost in the Florida Everglades, Ardith Deblois, wife, mother and intrepid adventurer, fights for her life. Enveloped within the humid swamplands is a perilous maze full of obstacles and adversaries. Which is the greater impediment, the humans that hunt her or the deadly animals and poisonous plants she hides amongst? 
Can she fight through fatigue and dehydration to save herself? Nothing Scares Me. True or not? 

Zeece Lugo’s “Five Stories Up” finds us on October 31st, 1966, and night is falling over the city. Below, the groups of little ghosts and goblins stream in and out of the front stoops and basement bodegas, running, laughing, white blankets flapping in the wind, their candy treasures tightly held in hand. But above, in the dark rooftop of Sonia's building, something pale and evil watches her, and beckons... 

Angie Martin's "Sold" follows a paranormal team as they investigate the home of a serial killer for their live Halloween night televised show. 

Heather Osborne's “Will You Remember Me?” past and present collide when ghosts from witch trials of long ago come to life. It's up to Sierra to lay things to rest. 

Leonie Rogers' “Roast Pumpkin” Anna discovers that going trick-or-treating in her new home town is more of an out-of-this-world experience than she'd ever imagined. 

CJ Rutherford's “Treaters” tells the story of Jaz. Who would believe the world would end on Halloween night? Can Jaz, a retired U.S. Marine, battle loss, grief, demons, and loneliness, to survive the end of the world? 

Jada Ryker’s “Dead Eye” Alex takes Marisa to an unusual Halloween party in an isolated Kentucky community… with a murderer ready with deadly tricks, rather than treats. 

Jalpa Williby’s “Beauty and the Beast” Kelsey’s entire family perishes in a fire on a dreadful Halloween night. Overcome by grief and guilt, she decides to end her pain once and for all. Will the mysterious stranger be her savior, or will he ultimately cause her tragic demise? 

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