Doorbells at Dusk by Various

Doorbells at Dusk: Halloween StoriesDoorbells at Dusk: Halloween Stories by Josh Malerman

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Halloween is a time where even those that normally dismiss horror bask in the shadows. Celebrated in this volume are thirteen stories, delving into the lives of the lost, the wicked, and the guilty, with a prominent theme of October. Including works by Charles Gramlich, Joanna Koch, Curtis M. Lawson, Chad Lutzke, Jason Parent, and others.

(WARNING: This review contains minor spoilers.)

I received this book in exchange for an honest review. I thank Erin Sweet Al-Mehairi and Corpus Press for giving me the opportunity.

Halloween was a challenging and exciting month this year, and this anthology, perfect for the season, held the spotlight over on my blog, Red Lace Reviews. I did something a little different with it, in that I reviewed each and every individual story leading up until that final day. There were some truly fantastic tales to behold, and only a few that didn’t particularly appeal. Most notably, The Day of the Dead by Amber Fallon, Adam’s Bed by Josh Malerman, Between by Ian Welke and Trick ‘Em All by Adam Light failed to hit the mark, where I either outright disliked, didn’t entirely understand, or merely found nothing special in the premise. Of course, I’m only one reader, and I can admittedly nitpick at something I consider not to my taste.

The rest, however, each offered something new for me to enjoy, and I welcomed their dark delights. There was variety; blending of forces, from natural to unnatural. Going from one author to the next, their voices fought to be heard, and I very much relish being introduced to new talent; it will inevitably expand my library, after all. Now let’s get into my top three, shall we?

The Rye-Mother by Curtis M. Lawson – His interest in Halloween could not be explained in the limited vocabulary of man. To him, it was simply magical.
This story eagerly delved into European folklore, and I couldn’t have been more thrilled. The whole concept it was themed upon just excites me to no end, and it was only ten times more engrossing due to how skilfully it was written. David’s awareness of something not being quite right – of that nagging feeling of not belonging – was depicted with an eerie sense of atmosphere. His venture into the night brought forth a magic of its own, and I swear, I would happily read an entire novel all about him and his connection to the Otherworld.

Vigil by Chad Lutzke – With each body removed and loaded into a van, our bond strengthened.
This one was by all means a different kind of beast from the tales involving supernatural forces. It was innately disturbing not only because of its poignant subject matter, but because the story didn’t actually include much at all. The lack of events only added to the unnerving atmosphere, and the accentuation of emotions running amok brought with it a sense of realism. It was captivating, eerily so, and despite being the odd one out, it certainly made a positive impression.

Rusty Husk by Evans Light – He only wanted it all to end.
This was one of those thought provoking pieces; something that took a simple concept and twisted it into a freak show. It painted the picture of normalcy – of a simple man with a simple tradition – yet it efficiently depicted a sense of wrongness. I thoroughly enjoyed my time reading, and I appreciated the mystery surrounding the Farmer, as whilst vaguely knowing his reasoning, he barely said two words. That, in particular, made a huge impact; it sure gets tedious when a villain destroys their image by gloating or, in general, being overly talkative. Although, to be fair, calling him a villain doesn’t feel right under the circumstances!

All of the reviews, paired with their respective additions, can be found here.

In conclusion: With thirteen tales revolving around Halloween, I favoured the majority of them. The great thing about anthologies, is that there’s something for everyone, especially when a range of sub-genres are explored.

© Red Lace 2018

Goodreads ~ Twitter

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