Dark Screams: Volume One

Random House has started a new series of horror story collections edited by Brian Freeman and Richard T. Chizmar, famed editors of the magazine Cemetery Dance. The first of these short volumes is titled, Dark Screams: Volume One (Amazon link). Featured are stories by Stephen King, Kelley Armstrong, Bill Pronzini, Simon Clark, and Ramsey Campbell. While the variety of stories is decent, the quality varies. Note to parents: The stories are fine for young adults, and gore is at a minimum.

Here’s a brief look (without any spoilers) at each of the stories included in this collection:

Weeds, by Stephen King, is an oldie and was part of the movie Creepshow. Typical of King’s earlier writings, a common situation becomes uncommon in a hurry. Be careful what you pick up off the ground.

The Price You Pay, by Kelley Armstrong involves a woman who can’t escape an abusive friend. Although one of the better stories in the book, it’s more a crime story than a horror one.

Magic Eyes, by Bill Pronzini, is a study in madness. In a sense, this is also a story about criminal behavior. Pretty good though.

Murder in Chains, by Simon Clark, is (pardon the pun) the weakest link here. A man awakens to find himself in a brutal situation. The problem with this entry is that it is “slice of life,” with no explanation offered as to how or why he’s there. Even a horror tale needs a reason for things to happen.

The Watch, by Ramsey Campbell, serves notice that a cop can become too involved in an investigation, and that a young boy should probably avoid getting involved in it.

Collections of horror stories are always a welcome thing. I hope this series improves with time.



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