My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I wanted to go through the "nine" short stories inside and look at them all individually, thus supporting my *** review, which is actually closer to 3.5*s.
-Talent Show is the tale of an Artificial Intelligence. I don't want to say much, mainly because the more i say I think the more that is taken away from the story. It is a nice little story that works best, I think, going in blind. The one fault I found with it was the decision to write it in first person. Doing such requires the narrator (and our protagonist) to explain thew world she lives in in such a way that does not ring true. She explains things that seem unnecessary and yet are almost integral to understanding the story. Just a personal opinion, but it felt that it would have benefited the story were it told in third person. Rating: ****.5
-Police Transcript is the second story, and I must admit I was so unable to engage with this story that I quit reading it. Three attempts to go back to it gave me the same result and feelings. I didn't like the format (although it was inventive) and I think that was the majority of my problem. Rating: *
-That Terrible Thing was a really well written, creepy, tense little story that ultimately left me unfulfilled. Either i missed something, or the basis for the title was never revealed. I will readily admit it simply might have gone over my head, but I don't think that was the case. In any event, S.A. Hunt was able to convey the tension and dread within the words in such a way that I actually got goosebumps a time or two. I started out thinking we had a haunting type of story, and it was that, just not like I anticipated. I want to rate this one *****, but alas I can't. Rating: ****
-Muppets was fun, alarming, and over the top all at the same time. Another story where I won't divulge anything at all about, other than it is a descent into madness that actually made me laugh out loud twice while also being terribly frightening. Well done. Rating: *****
-Traphouse is another of the tales where it was superb (and actually if I am correct connects with the second to last story in the collection) but the end left a lot to be desired. I didn't feel we ever really got a proper resolution for one, nor that I ever understood why anyone in the story with the exception of the husband did anything they did. Unsatisfying at best. Rating: **
-Chimneysweep was superb. Much like Muppets, it was fun, silly, and over the top, but just horrifying enough to make it's inclusion in this tale make perfect sense. No spoilers at all, but it wound up being my favorite story in the book I think. Rating: *****
-Pocket Change is the antithesis of Chimneysweep for me. I finished this one, and the idea is even a good one, but there was nothing about the execution or the characters I liked. Rating: *
-The Hidden is the final, and by far the longest as it takes up about 30% of the book alone, story in the book. It is also the one that is the most scary and unsettling. It is the tale of a man who works in a psychiatric hospital and the "are they or are they not supernatural" events that transpire, all of them linked to a young female patient locked in a room by herself. While the story didn't need a few elements it contained, and at least one character shows up, acts like a caricature, and then disappears all the while adding nothing of note or substance, it was all in all well told and very intriguing. There is a minor fail at the end with the structure of the novel and the tense chosen, but it doesn't destroy the integrity of the story at all. I just find myself thinking things through maybe a tad too much. Loved this one overall. Rating: ****.5
-Dry Leaves is actually an excerpt from S.A. Hunt's full length novel "The Whirlwind In The Thorn Tree". I have purchased that book but have yet to read it, and as such I did not want to read what is called "Chapter Twenty-Seven" here. I passed it, but because of the reasons I said nothing to do with content. As such, I am only counting the eight previous shorts in my final review.
4*s, or as I said above closer to 3.5, is not an indictment of the book at all. I think it is better than average when it comes to other horror anthologies or short story collections I have read. I heartily recommend the book and look forward to reading the full length novel from S.A. Hunt. I also wouldn't mind a follow-up to The Hidden at some point. Well done.
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