The horror anthology Chilling Tales
is a collection of 18 short
stories. These have been gathered from Canadian authors living around
Toronto. At first, I worried that this could be a group of people trying
their first go at horror tales, but this was not the case. Each of
these authors has been in the game for a while and this is just one of
their many credits in the field of horror writing.
The book begins with Robert J. Wiersema's story Tom Chesnutt's Midnight Blues
I found this a strange choice for an opening tale for, although well
written, it did not 'chill' me overmuch. A betrayed love leads to the
agony of an old man cursed by the ghost of the woman he loved. I will
admit that it did fit in with the country music theme that story
Second up, we have King Him
by Richard Gavin. This is an
inventive story that certainly takes on an eerie tone. The monstrous
figure King Him could be a figment of a cracked mind or it could be
something real, real enough to impregnate a woman with its horrible
seed. King Him is a strict ruler reaching out from some unknown abyss
and it is hard to survive against such things, let along fight back.
Third on the list is 404
by Barbara Roden. This is a fun tale and
perhaps the closest thing to a comedy in the book, although it can also
strike a nerve for anyone that has worked in a larger office. When
coworkers disappear like they never existed, the others question their
sanity when they should be more concerned with their own safety.
by Leah Bobet is one of the collections more memorable
stories. A truck crashes in a small town trapped within the dead of
winter. Things go from bad to worse when someone turns up dead and all
minds turn toward the taciturn truck driver as the cause. However, this
accident victim is far from what he seems or even human.
Michael R. Colangelo is next with Blacklight
. Taking Medieval
Pantomime might have been a silly idea, but certainly should have been
harmless. But instead things get more complex when classes lead to lust
ridden orgies. The appearance of a baleful clown doll does little to
help matters, especially when they had a strange desire to let it watch.
The Deafening Sound of Slumber
, by Simon Strantzas could almost
be a science fiction tale, if he did not keep the frightening aspects of
the story poised on a keen razors edge. He weaves a dark picture and
draws the reader into a place where, at least for his characters, there
is no escape.
There is a piece of flash fiction called Last Waltz
and written by Jason S. Ridler. This is a grungy short involving a couple of friends or are they really enemies?
In Sympathy for the Devil
by Nancy Kilpatrick, we are exposed to a
black hearted man, in a hospital bed, who would rather blame everyone
but himself for his terrible mistakes. This story seems to be closer to a
morale lesson than horror, unless the personal hell the guy stuck
himself in is horror enough.
The Needle's Eye
is an inventive story written by Suzanne Church.
Again the reader is pledged into a nightmarish world where a deadly
plague can only be cured by destroying an eye. When Rideau is exposed,
he has no other choice but to accept the cure though this time it will
leave him blind.
David Nickle brings us Looker
. This was an enjoyable story. Yes,
there were uncertainties and mind games going on, but it was also a tale
that just sucked you in and the reader wanted to finish the ride. This
is an example of just telling a story and making it work.
comes next and is written by Christopher K. Miller.
Driving down lonely country roads can be the death of you. This eerie
story mixes flashbacks with the scare of who might be driving that car
that plagues you in the middle of the night.
is exactly the opposite of how, Brett Alexander Savory's,
character Clark feels when he sees the sun melting. He thinks everyone
else is wrong and wonders why they can't see what he sees. He could have
a special gift, either that or he is going mad.
The Carpet Maker
by Brent Hayhard is another tale where the
characters are placed in a hellish environment. How poor does one have
to be before they would sell off their daughter? The only thing worse
that doing that would be to not even receive the payment when you were
, by Sandra Kasturi is one of the funnier tales in the
anthology. A sister gets her revenge, but not in the way anyone with a
rational mind could ever imagine.
Ian Rogers brings us My Body
. This is a well thought out tale
with some great twists. A private detective meets a little girl that
takes him into a haunted house. It is now his job to try to figure out
who is doing the haunting.
, by Gemma Files, was just plain weird, but in good
way. Shrines of refuse are built for uncertain reasons. These pagan
structures give peace to some, but when one is altered, there could be
an unexpected price.
by Claude Lalumiere is a truly unique and profoundly
disturbing story. Also one of the stories that would be likely to stick
with the reader long after the anthology is finished. A small child
decided to live on with his family even after he is dead and changes his
name to Dead, just so they don't forget. It gets weirder from there.
The Weight of Stones
by Tia V. Travis was intense and well
written. It didn't seem like much of a horror story to me tough. More
Steinbeck that King you might say. It is a descriptive striking story,
but might have been better placed in literary journal.
Overall, this was a strong anthology and an entertaining read, however
in wasn't the scariest book I have ever come across. Of course horror
means different things to different people and many of these stories did
step up and try to deliver a strong punch. Others were more
introspective than I usually favor. Again troubled souls and person
hells can be horrifying if you are the person living through them, but
sometimes they do not transfer into the written word with the same
It was impressive that Mr. Kelly was able to find and compile such a
thorough horror anthology using only people from one city. These were
professional authors who all stepped up and put some strong stories
forth. The anthology was well rounded, covered different styles of
horror, and looked at the genre from multiple angles. I would recommend
this anthology to lovers of modern horror.