Blumhouse and Anchor have crafted a collection of Halloween themed stories that shock, inspire a few guffaws and twist up familiar tropes in inventive and engaging ways. The book offers a wealth of talent, including plenty of award-winning and firmly established talents. But, let’s not talk about the frame all day, let’s look at the picture.
Jonathan Maberry’s A Small Taste of the Old Country isn’t just my first favorite of the anthology, it’s also a captivating tale of a little Nazi revenge. No, it’s not the Nazi’s getting revenge (what the hell would they want revenge for?), it’s just one old soul in search of some form of penance. It’s brilliant, aligned under the falsehood of comfort, we relish in the slow emotional torture one man uncorks in kindly fashion… until that small taste of the old country starts to kick in.
The Seventeen-Year Itch drops us into a facility for the not-quite-right-upstairs bunch, and it’s creepy and atmospheric right out of the gate. Garth Nix just tells this beautiful story that feels part monster, part possession, and all up to one’s own interpretation. Make no mistake, the story sees a shocking climax, but there’s certainly an air of ambiguity that adds to the greatness of the story.
Kate Jonez’s, A Flicker of Light on Devil’s Night isn’t just creepy, it’s actually extremely melancholy. Astute readers will begin to pick up on the direction this little story heads, but that doesn’t dull the brutal reality of its sharp and saddening close. If you’re a parent, you may feel it twice as hard as those without offspring. Either way, it’s going to have an effect on you.
And finally, my last favorite in this particular lineup is known as We’re Never Inviting Amber Again, and its put together by the uber talented, S.P. Miskowski. To be real loose with my rundown I’ll simply say this: one seriously aloof jackass finds himself staring down something that simply cannot be real… though it may finally shut him up.
There wasn’t a single story in this collection that felt underwhelming. Blumhouse and Anchor have aligned a magnificent assortment of talent to creep us out during our favorite time of year. Make no mistake: Haunted Nights is a must-read this Halloween!