May 6, 2015
The Terrible 2's: a review of "Dark Screams Vol. 2" edited by Brian James Freeman & Richard Chizmar
edited by Brian James Freeman and Richard Chizmar
Available on Amazon.com
After thoroughly enjoying the first volume of Dark Screams, I quite looked forward to this second volume. In the back of my mind though, I wondered if it could meet expectations.
It certainly started off strong enough with the likes of Robert McCammon and some good ol' small town horror in a tale called "The Deep End." It's a really good, gripping story about a grieving father convinced it was a monster that killed his son at the town swimming pool and not the latest in a long line of drownings. Folks are always praising McCammon's novels and rightfully so, but if there is a collection of his short stories somewhere, then I need to track it down, because he has a real knack for those too.
Following that was a good showing from Norman Prentiss with "Waiting Room," about a plane crash at a small airport that has this cool claustrophobic effect, since the entire story takes place inside the airport through the viewpoint of an employee trying to keep everyone orderly and clam while also trying to figure out what really happened to that plane and who might be responsible.
Shawntelle Madison's "If These Walls Could Talk" was a decent haunted house story, but just didn't hook me the way I'd hoped. Graham Masterton's "The Night Hider" was a little better with it's enchanted wardrobe as a nod to C.S. Lewis, but still left me a tad underwhelmed. And then there was Richard Christian Matheson's "Whatever," to which I say exactly that ... whatever. As talented a writer as he is, this story felt tedious to me and just a chore to read through on account of its epistolary style, which is a writing style I have come to loathe. If you go for that sort of thing, then you may get more enjoyment from it than I did.
All in all, a solid second volume in this series, but just falls well short of the mark made by the first, as far as I'm concerned. If you have yet to read that first volume, please do yourself a favor and check it out, but unless you're a real fan of these authors and eager to check out their specific works, you're probably not going to lose any sleep for having missed out on this one.