I received an ARC from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
The above rating is calculated from my individual ratings for the stories. This is how I do it since I think that I can’t rate off gut feeling since my gut feeling reflects the last few stories I’ve read, not the collection as a whole. So, I rate and review as I go, then average the ratings to find out how much this collection deserves.
For being a supposed Halloween collection, there wasn’t much of a Halloween feel to them.
Each story, I was hoping that this one would be it but I was terribly wrong the whole time.
I thought that the short stories were poorly chosen. Only the last story really got my heart racing a bit. There were two others that slightly got me to feel something. One actually was creepy, yet the impact faded to nothing so fast with a contrived ending. The other emotionally manipulated me with sadness. The other two stories just pissed me off.
Now, I’ve read a lot of short story collections through this publisher. I think this one was just a dud.
Strange Candy by Robert McCammon – 1.5/5:
Definitely not a strong start. I get it, strange candy. That’s right there in the title. It just didn’t give me a huge impact. The hit for this one was supposed to be right in the feels, but I didn’t feel it one bit. It all felt really rushed and I never got a clear picture in my head. Like, meh. It didn’t feel like a well-crafted short story, nor one that fit in with a Halloween theme besides it being set at Halloween.
The Rage of Achilles or When Mockingbirds Sing by Kevin Lucia – 3/5:
This one got me in the feels. No tears, but definitely a certain ache in my chest from this one. The title’s weird but it makes sense about halfway through the story. For me, I guessed the twist pretty early on, but not completely. This is a story more about getting to the emotions than getting anywhere scary. Another dud, another one barely Halloween.
Demon Air by John R. Little – 3.5/5:
Finally! The creep factor was there! Well, sort of. Three stories to get there but here we are. There was such potential with the whole scene taking place in an airplane.
However, it had too much exposition and not enough time spent on ACTUALLY CREEPING ME OUT. So much potential, such a letdown.
Hacienda de los Muertos – 1/5:
I thought to myself when I opened the Kindle app on my phone at lunch today: “Could it get worse?” It did. It totally did. This story is about a racist actor working in Mexico (with Mexicans) around the Day of the Dead. It’s at a legitimately haunted house/ranch and they’re trying to get the haunting to quit while they film. But, it’s not scary. At all. Then, the main character’s racism is talked about over and over again, yet it’s never followed up and, suddenly, it’s resolved. Not a racist anymore! The Spanish was all wrong for me, too. Like someone just threw a few Spanish words together that sounded right but made no sense. And the ending was lame and anti-climactic.
#MakeHalloweenGreatAgain – 4/5:
Of course, the very last story in this was good. Makes complete sense, right? Right?? But, really, this was a solid one. Great use of a hashtag so it was satirical. Then you have a killer using that hashtag to follow through on seeking out this supposed past greatness. Action and suspense were there the whole time, or up until the very end for me. It was a short story I would have been happy to see developed into a full-length book.