When it comes to books, I’m lucky to have found several hundred worth keeping. (And packing into boxes, dragging around the country, unpacking, re-shelving, etc. Books are a blessing until moving day, then they’re a curse. That’s a different blog.)
One of the recent acquisitions is the short horror story collection, “Dark Masques” edited by J.N. Williamson. This lightweight volume includes many of the masters and quite a few classic tales.
A few highlights:
“Popsy” by Stephen King
This wicked story peeks into the divide between monsters and monsters. We all know the world is full of vile creatures, perhaps none more repugnant than a man who’d abduct a little boy with ill intent. Told from the antagonist point of view, this is young Stephen King at his finest.
“Fish Story” by Dennis Hamilton
The story begins with, “Hooke’s first thought was: Artie’s rotted body is down there. Somewhere beneath that black water.” One is submerged into artful creepiness immediately afterwards. If night fishing already conjures your darkest worries, you might want to skip this one.
“The Man Who Drowned Puppies” by Thomas Sullivan
As if the title isn’t alarming enough, the focus character is cloaked in dread and expertly draped in mystery. Townspeople keep their distance from this man. One is left to wonder if they do so out of understandable distaste or out of respect and admiration. The twist ending may give you a jolt, exactly as a tight horror story should.
“The Boy Who Came Back from the Dead” by Alan Rodgers
“He was filthy, covered from head to toe with graveyard dirt, but all the things the car had crushed and broken when it hit him (things the mortician hadn’t been able to make look right) were fixed.” It’s a breathtaking opening to a story that will both force your skin crawl off your bones while it’s breaking your heart into several, sad pieces.
“The Litter” by James Kisner
The macabre happenings begin with a beloved housecat giving birth. It should be a wonder occasion. Unfortunately, these are no ordinary kittens… (Incidentally, long ago I had the pleasure of studying with James Kisner via a correspondence course. He was an extremely kind teacher and patient with an over eager writer. James has passed on now, but his work stands the test of time.)
This edition of Dark Masques was quite popular. Copies can be found at many used bookstores. If you can throw a fiver at your local bookseller, please do. If that’s not possible, snag your copy at Amazon here. Enjoy. LL