Originally posted at: http://charismabonus.com/cha/2012/03/19/book-review-haunted-anthology/
Ladies and gents, I will be completely honest with you – I do not read anthologies.
Well, no, that’s not an entirely fair statement – instead let me say I do not finish anthologies.
I enjoy reading, and I also enjoy doing things en masse. If I am going to have a snack, I eat a lot of things. If I am going to write, I write a lot. If I am going to code, I do it in a 10-hour marathon.
So, naturally, if I am going to read I am going to read for awhile or read a lot. Anthologies do not ordinarily lend themselves towards this kind of reading, instead I find that they’re best swallowed in small bites but still often feel unfulfilled by the end of the story. Usually anthologies do not do it for me for this reason – I want more than just a short story, I want an entire novel. I want more. I want to know what happened before and after and maybe during, should the story lend itself in that direction.
Haunted completely blew those ideas of how I feel about anthologies out of the water.
For a brief overview, Haunted: 11 Tales of Ghostly Horror is one of the first offerings from FR Press – that is, the publishing side of FlamesRising.com. It features a collection of authors who seem to have ample experience with the supernatural, many of whom have also worked on role playing games like the ever-creepy World of Darkness, so these guys (and gals) know their stuff.
The first thing to note about the book is that it’s kicked off with this absolutely wonderful introduction by Jaeson K. Jrackman, a real life ghost hunter.
Yes, you read that correctly.
Jrakman sets the stage perfectly for the rest of the book, easing us slowly in to the darkness and spine-tingly mood that comes with hearing (or reading) a good ghost story – or experiencing the supernatural first hand. To my surprise and enjoyment, the tone – not just the theme – of the forward seemed to carry on through the entire book.
Though the anthology is compiled of the stories of eleven very different authors with very different writing styles, it felt more as if I was reading eleven slices of the same story. It’s not often that I feel compelled to comment on the editing of a book (particularly a work of fiction rather than a game), but it was so very obvious that great care was taken to place these stories in an order that was comfortable to the reader. Though we are introduced to many, many different protagonists and antagonists throughout the various tales, they seem to slide in and out of each other’s radar as each story follows the other. Awkward teenagers and solemn adults, the long dead and the fresh kills, the amateur hour contestants and the seasoned ghost hunters – each lend to tell the greater tale that arcs through the whole collection: the supernatural is everywhere, and all around us, with ghosts in all shapes and sizes.
I am not going to lie to you – it would be an absolute shame to pick out a particular story that stood out as a favorite because they were all equally brilliant. Each story complimented the next, and despite the obvious changes in tone or perspective between the authors, everything still flowed smoothly. All of the stories were equally creepy, though some endearing – Georgia Beaverson spun an oddly adorable tale about a young boy towards the middle of the book – and others that left you wondering exactly what happened by the end.
All in all, as what I can safely say is the first anthology I have read to completion – and in order – this was a favorite. I have no doubt that I’ll be pulling it out next time I want to share a spine-tingling story with a friend – or if I just want to curl up with something spooky.
Whether you’re a fan of anthologies or not, it would be a crime for you not to pick this up if you’re at least interested in ghosts and other supernatural beings, especially if you love seeing fiction from folks who have written for role playing games previously – you’ll be getting stories not just by Georgia Beaverson, but also Alana Joli Abbott, Jason L. Blair, Alex Bledsoe, Bill Bodden, Richard Dansky, Preston P. DuBose, Nancy O. Greene, Jess Hartley, Jason Sizemore, and Chuck Wendig – a pretty stand-up team as far as storytelling goes, all corralled and edited by Monica Valentinelli.
If you’d like to pick up the anthology, DriveThru Fiction has digital copies for just $4.99 and hard copies for $14.99 – or a combo of both versions for $15.99. For less than a couple of movie tickets, that’s a pretty good price for an afternoon with ghosts – you may just find yourself wanting to spend the money saved on an EVP detector of your own one you’re done.