Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Shivers III, edited by Richard Chizmar

(pb; 2004: horror anthology - prequel anthology to Shivers IV)

Overall review:

Warning: (possible) - necessary - spoilers in this review.

Shivers III is a decent, but disappointing anthology, considering the talent involved in this endeavor.

Stories that disappointed: "Itsy Bitsy Spider. . ." - Meggan C. Wilson & F. Paul Wilson (with its lazy, Amateur Hour it was all a dream but not really finish); "Hedges" - Al Sarrantonio and "This, and That's the End of It" - Tom Piccirilli (which hinge on odd, intriguing Twilight Zone-esque concepts, only to spin their plot wheels, without going anywhere); "End of the Line" - Michael Laimo (solid tale, at least until its lazy, dogsh*t finish).

The rest of the stories are either standout endeavors (see below) or not quite solid pieces that feel generic, rushed or overly long (see the bottom of this review).

Shivers III is worth checking out from the library. Don't buy it without reading it first.

Standout stories:

1.) "Underneath" - Kealan Patrick Burke: Good, entertaining tale about a nerd (Dean Lovell), a bully (Freddy Kelly) and an ugly girl (Stephanie Watts).

I saw one of the key twists coming straightaway, but it didn't ruin the story for me, as the twist could have, with a few altered lines, gone in way different direction.

2.) "Horn of Plenty" - Thomas F. Monteleone: A mid-level jazz band leader (George Thurston) recounts the story of his trumpet player - or "Horn Man" in jazz parlance - and a strange midnight blue horn.

Good, entertaining story.

3.) "Becoming Men" - Douglas Clegg: In a rehabilitation camp for juvenile delinquents, inmates are spurred to action when of their own is murdered. The twist isn't unexpected, but the story is solid, attention-keeping.

4.) "Flip Flap" - Elizabeth Massie: A carny midget (Mattie) and her lover, Edward, look for - and possibly uncover - a way to unsaddle Mattie of her abusive, drunken slave-master of a boyfriend.

Noiresque, succinct revenge and love story. One of the best entries in this collection.

5.) "A Question of Doves: A Brackard's Point Story" - Geoff Cooper: Intriguing tale about a malevolent little girl, birds and strange disappearances.

Excellent piece.

6.) "Panteon Version 2.0" - Brian Keene & Michael T. Huyck Jr.: When dead celebrities return from the dead - not as zombies, but as cognizant beings - it's the first event in a series of dark, often humorous events.

Solid, entertaining work.

7.) "Celebrate With Us" - Paul Melniczek: The presence of spectral trick-or-treaters reminds a man (Jim) of a recent tragedy - and its belated correction.

Good, engaging piece, with an effective plot wrinkle.

8.) "The Lingering Scent of Brimstone" - J.F. Gonzalez: A little girl (Amy Doyle) is kidnapped, and when her captor is gorily dispatched, and Emily recovered unharmed, the questions begin: who killed Amy's attacker, and why do Amy and her parents (Emily and Jeff) have missing pinkie fingers?

The twisty, relatable explanation isn't unexpected, but it's well written and well-foreshadowed. Good read.

9.) "Run Away" - Wrath James White: A former drug addict/dealer confronts literal people-eating demons.

Solid, character-interesting read.

10.) "Please Let Me Out" - Edward Lee: Joyce Lipnick, a wealthy businesswoman, tries to reign in her straying pretty-boy lover (Scott), with interesting results.

Effective, distinctive, twisty tale. One of the best entries in this collection.

Other stories:

"Initiation" - David G. Barnett; "What They Left Behind" - Brian Freeman; "The Hole" - John Maclay; "This House is Not My Home" - Robert Morrish

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