Deal Me In Catch-Up, Week 41

(Deal Me In logo above created by Mannomoi at Dilettante Artiste)
(Deal Me In logo above created by Mannomoi at Dilettante Artiste)

Hosted by Jay @ Bibliophilopolis
What’s Deal Me In?

“Tales from the Original Gothic” by John M. Ford

Card picked: Week 41: Q
From: The Architecture of Fear, edited by Kathryn Cramer and Peter D. Pautz

The Story
This story had so much potential. In an anthology about hauntings and houses, this offered up a ghost house: a house that periodically manifests full of its former occupants. A team of scientists and ghost busters anticipates the house’s appearance and decide to go in. So much potential.

The introduction to this story describes it as a “gestalt whirlwind.” I suppose that’s what this story is, but I couldn’t get through more than half of it. Six pages in, I had no idea what exactly was going on with our team of paranormal researchers.

 

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Review ~ Dark Screams: Volume Eight

This book was provided to me by Random House Publishing Group – Hydra via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Cover via Goodreads

Dark Screams: Volume Eight edited by Brian James Freeman & Richard T. Chizmar

Frank Darabont, Bentley Little, Benjamin Percy, Billie Sue Mosiman, Kealan Patrick Burke, and Glen Hirshberg share chilling tales of ancient evils and wicked desires in this spooky collection assembled by renowned horror editors Brian James Freeman and Richard Chizmar. (via Goodreads)

Why was I interested in this book?
Found it by searching for Glen Hirshberg at NetGalley, doubly interested because of Frank Darabont.

What Worked & Didn’t Work
Five of these six stories reminded me of the best episodes from late 80s/early 90s horror anthology TV shows (Tales from the DarksideMonstersFreddy’s Nightmares). Each had a great twist of an ending and variable levels of gore.

Frank Darabont’s “Walpuski’s Typewriter” sets the tone for the anthology. It’s a nasty piece of work (in a good way!) involving a writer and a demon possessed typewriter. Darabont is best known for his screen writing and adaptations; notably The Shashank Redemption and The Mist. I hadn’t read any of his prose. It did not disappoint.

“The Boy” by Bentley Little was the perfect followup. I found myself wondering if I was supposed to like Christine’s neighbors, especially as they make fun of a kid who supposedly smells. By the end of the story, I wasn’t sure who was worse. Christine solves their stinky kid problem, in a way that is probably more honest than her two-faced neighbors would consider.

With Benjamin Percy’s “Tumor,” we’re solidly back in the land of Tales from the Darkside. This is a simple short, tale, but full of gory glee.

A shift in tone happens in the latter half of Dark Screams, Vol. 8. The stories are more complex and a smidge more contemplative in their horror. The one story that didn’t work for me was right after the mid-point, “Twisted and Gnarled” by Billie Sue Mosiman. The story is told alternately through first person point of view of a serial killer, The Man, and a somewhat psychic mother, The Woman. The internal dialogue of both of these characters really didn’t work for me.

Quiet horror continued in “The Palaver” by Kealan Patrick Burke. Alluding to the stories of the late 19th century, this is a tale within a tale. Our narrator is the owner of the slowly failing Palavar Barbershop. He’s told a story of cosmic horror from the Great Depression that may or may not repeat itself in the 21st century.

The last story in the anthology is Glen Hirshberg’s “India Blue.” As with many of these tales, the “payoff” is at the end of the story, which means reading through one man’s endeavor to bring cricket to America. Not just cricket though, but America’s Rockin’ Professional Cricket, complete with cheerleaders and a showboat player who has been drummed out of respectable leagues. Luckily, the journey is possibly better than the ending.

Overall
Solid anthology. It’s release date is Halloween and it’s the perfect little reading treat.

Publishing info, my copy: Kindle/ePub, Random House Publishing Group, 10/31/17
Acquired: 8/17/17, NetGalley
Genre: horror

Deal Me In, Week 40 ~ “Visitors”

(Deal Me In logo above created by Mannomoi at Dilettante Artiste)
(Deal Me In logo above created by Mannomoi at Dilettante Artiste)

Hosted by Jay @ Bibliophilopolis
What’s Deal Me In?

“Visitor” by Jack Dann

Card picked: 9
From: The Architecture of Fear, edited by Kathryn Cramer and Peter D. Pautz

The Story

After Mr. Benjamin died, he came back to Charlie’s room for a visit.

Charlie is fifteen and is suffering from peritonitis after an appendectomy. The other patients in the ward are similarly in pain, but Charlie had managed to make friends with Mr. Benjamin from across the hall. Even now that Mr. Benjamin is dead, their friendship isn’t over and maybe Mr. Benjamin can help as Charlie decides between a pain-filled life and an okay, but a little lonely, after-life.

While still not a story with a particular connection to specific architecture, I did enjoyed it’s gentle take on ghosts.

Peril of the Short Story

Super Retro Review ~ Spooky Tricks

Cover via Goodreads

Spooky Tricks by by Rose Wyler, Gerald Ames, Talivaldis Stubis (Illustrator)

Learn the secrets of these dazzling tricks and put on a Halloween show that’s sure to bewitch your friends. You will be able to make cards rise, a girl disappear, and a boy float! (via Goodreads)

I’m always a little tickled when I’m browsing Open Library and I come across a book I owned as a kid. I’m not big on nostalgia, but I’ve spent a lot of time reading  throughout my life. Finding an old book that I’m familiar with takes me back like nothing else can. Spooky Tricks was probably purchased through a Scholastic Books flyer. For me, those flyers were as good at the Sear Christmas catalog.

Though it obviously hit my sweet spot for things creepy and magical, Spooky Tricks pretty much marks the beginning and end of my ambitions toward magic. I tried out a few of the tricks to little success. As a kid, I chalked it up to not having supplies. Who has matchboxes lying around? Or stilts with shoes? Or an over abundance of black thread? As an adult, and one who had studies a little about magic, I see things differently.

1.) Most of the tricks in this book are not that good. Or rather, maybe if you’re a kid and you’re showing these tricks once to a particularly sympathetic adult, you might get a good reaction.

2.) I’ve always been disinclined to read directions if you give me illustrations. Which is great when you’re assembling an Ikea bookshelf, but crappy when you’re trying to learn magic.

3.) I’ve always been an overly skeptical person and I’m terrible at being deceptive. Even as a kid, I didn’t buy that anyone would believe these tricks. I certainly knew that *I* couldn’t pull them off. Maybe if I had realized that magic requires a level of showmanship… Nope, I still wouldn’t be able to convincingly lie about where my thumb might be, or whose names I wrote down for the X-ray eyes trick, or whether there is one piece of black thread or two. But none of this means that I dodn’t appreciate it when professionals do magic!

Publishing info, my copy: scanned, Scholastic Inc, 1968
Acquired: Open Library
Genre: nonfiction

Penn & Teller (as their 8 year-old selves) with a piece of R.I.P. appropriate magic:

Deal Me In, Week 39 ~ “The Adventure of the Sussex Vampire”

(Deal Me In logo above created by Mannomoi at Dilettante Artiste)
(Deal Me In logo above created by Mannomoi at Dilettante Artiste)

Hosted by Jay @ Bibliophilopolis
What’s Deal Me In?

“The Adventure of the Sussex Vampire” by Arthur Conan Doyle

Card picked: 10*
From: The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes (I’d link to this story, but published in 1924, it isn’t yet in the public domain in the United States. Which is utterly ridiculous.)

* Every-so-often, I make a mistake in my Deal Me In list. This week ended up being one of those oftens. When I copy/pasted the table of contents listing for the Shirley Jackson stories I’m reading for hearts, “Dorothy and my Grandmother” was slated for the 9 and “And the Sailors” for the 10, but actually, that’s all the title of one story! So, I decided to have an extra wild card slot and filled it with a Sherlock Holmes story that was recently mentioned in my copy of Dracula.

The Story
“The Sussex Vampire” is generally considered one of the strongest of this collection. Case-book was the last collection of Holmes stories written by Doyle and, in fact, some of his last published fiction. Doyle was well-tired of Holmes at this point and probably low on ideas.

“The Sussex Vampire,” though, is a very quintessential Holmes story. We have a problem, one of seemingly supernatural—or at least very deviant—origin. A woman is accused of sucking the blood of her infant child. I kind of wonder if Doyle had this story rattling around as an idea for a while, but had earlier thought the concept a little too much.

As a reread, I sort of remembered the solution to this case and I could see all the pieces being put into place. There’s the drawing room consultation and the on-site visit and Holmes being very smart while everyone is frazzled. All these things, are very satisfying as a reader. Holmes does seem a little more sensitive to others in “Vampire,” but maybe I’m used  to the very anti-social modern versions of Holmes.

The Author

This agency stands flat-footed upon the ground, and there it must remain. The world is big enough for us. No ghosts need apply.

I have to give props to Doyle for maintaining Holmes as a skeptical character while the author was far into his spiritualistic sojourn.

Peril of the Short Story

Review ~ The Ballad of Black Tom

Cover via Goodreads

The Ballad of Black Tom by Victor LaValle

People move to New York looking for magic and nothing will convince them it isn’t there.

Charles Thomas Tester hustles to put food on the table, keep the roof over his father’s head, from Harlem to Flushing Meadows to Red Hook. He knows what magic a suit can cast, the invisibility a guitar case can provide, and the curse written on his skin that attracts the eye of wealthy white folks and their cops. But when he delivers an occult tome to a reclusive sorceress in the heart of Queens, Tom opens a door to a deeper realm of magic, and earns the attention of things best left sleeping.

A storm that might swallow the world is building in Brooklyn. Will Black Tom live to see it break? (via Goodreads)

Why was I interested in this book?
I like the intersection of music and fiction, especially in horror. I’ve seen lots of good reviews and accolades for this story, including a Shirley Jackson award for Best Novella (2016). Decided to read it despite its Lovecraft connection.

What Worked
Crisp writing. I hadn’t encountered Victor LaValle before, but I’m going to endeavor to read more of his works. I like his style.

The problematic aspects of H. P. Lovecraft’s stories have become a bone of contention for many readers. The inspiration for The Ballad of Black Tom, “The Horror at Red Hook,” is a product of xenophobia and racism. LaValle subverts that story and those themes with such grace and ease that he makes Lovecraft look truly foolish. I’ve read both: The Ballad of Black Tom first and “The Horror at Red Hook” second. There is no contest, LaValle has written the superior story.

I also really appreciate that the age of easy publishing has given novellas have a new life. The Ballad of Black Tom is the right size. In another age, the story might have been expanded into a novel for publication or buried in an anthology. Tor gave it the opportunity to be its own thing.

Publishing info, my copy: Kindle Book / OverDrive Read, Tom Doherty Associates, February 16, 2016
Acquired: Tempe Overdrive Digital Collection
Genre: horror

Hosted by Kate and Kim at Midnight Book Girl

Hosted by Andi @ Estella’s Revenge and Heather @ My Capricious Life

Deal Me In, Week 38 ~ “Things You Can Buy for a Penny”

(Deal Me In logo above created by Mannomoi at Dilettante Artiste)
(Deal Me In logo above created by Mannomoi at Dilettante Artiste)

Hosted by Jay @ Bibliophilopolis
What’s Deal Me In?

“Things You Can Buy for a Penny” by Will Kaufman

Card picked: 10
From: Lightspeed Magazine, Issue 57, Feb. 2015, (link to story)

The Story
I’ve been in the mood for light fantasy lately. Not quite fairy tales or their retellings, but fantastical stories that fairy tale adjacent. “Thing You Can Buy for a Penny” fits that bill.

“Don’t go to the well,” said Theo to his son. So, of course, Tim went to the well. He was thirteen, and his father told him not to. There was no magic in it.

 

In the well resides the wet gentleman, who is magic, who will grant a wish for a penny, or maybe more, or maybe less. “Things You Can Buy for a Penny” follows several generations of Tim’s family and their bargains with the wet gentleman. As one might expect when wishes are on the line, the negotiations need to be done carefully.

I’ve read quite a few stories from this issue of Lightspeed, but haven’t posted about most of them. This has definitely been my favorite (with two left on the roster).