Categorized | Flash Fire

Flash Fire Mini-Reviews (Scary Short Stories)

Posted on March 14, 2008 by Matt-M-McElroy

Last week we talked about the most well-known vampire in the world, Dracula. The Dark Prince will probably return for another round of Mini-Reviews at a later date, since we only had the chance to check out a few of the products featuring Dracula and there are certainly many more available.

This week we are going to take a look at some great collections of scary stories. There are fiction anthologies on every subject imaginable. Fans of Horror & Dark Fantasy have many authors and publishers to choose from. Some of the authors featured in this week’s mini-reviews include Jim Butcher, Laurell K. Hamilton, Kelley Armstrong, David Wellington, C.J. Henderson, Tanith Lee and Patricia A. McKillip…just to name a few.

Here are a few anthologies that I’ve had the chance to check out recently…

Return to Lovecraft Country

Take a journey through the New England of H.P. Lovecraft and return to many of the locales immortalized in his chilling tales of the Cthulhu Mythos. You will be guided by some of the finest authors of horror fiction, both past and present, as well as many up and coming talents who will take the dark children of Lovecraft into the millennium. This collection contains works by T.E.D. Klein, Richard Lupoff, Thomas Ligotti, C.J. Henderson, and a rare reprint of a story by the great Lin Carter.

This collections of Mythos inspired tales published by Triad Entertainment is a fun read for fans of Call of Cthulhu and other Lovecraftian fiction. My faorite tale in this collection is “The Horror at Columbia Terrace” by C.J. Henderson, who always entertains. T.E.D. Klein’s “The Events at Poroth Farm” starts off a little slow, but gets quite creepy as the tale continues.

The book does suffer a bit from poor editing, although some of it does seem to be a printing error (bad margins, too many spaces, etc). The mix of writing styles ensures that any fan will find something they enjoy and something they don’t, but all-in-all this collection is a fun read.

Return to Lovecraft Country is available at

Many Bloody Returns

Suspenseful, surprising, sometimes dark, sometimes humorous-these all-new stories will ensure that readers never think of vampires (or birthdays) in quite the same way again.

In Charlaine Harris’s “Dracula Night,” Sookie Stackhouse is the only human at the annual commemoration of Dracula’s birth. But this year, the Prince of Darkness actually shows up-and finds Sookie to be a tasty-looking present.

Jim Butcher’s crime-solving wizard Harry Dresden, of the Dresden Files novels, heads to a role-playing party to give his vampire brother a birthday present in “It’s My Birthday Too,” only to discover there are some bloodthirsty party crashers who don’t share their brotherly love.

I originally only picked this up for the Dresden Files story by Jim Butcher. I was pleasantly surprised to find several of my other favorite authors included in the collection as well. Kelley Armstrong, Christopher Golden, Tanya Huff and other authors contribute some great stories to this anthology.

Kelley Armstrong includes a tale featuring one of her Women of the Otherworld characters, specifically Casandra from Dime Store Magic, which was an entertaining read.

Many Bloody Returns is available at

The Undead

“The Undead” is a stunning collection of 23 tales of the living dead by zombie fan favorites and up-and-coming authors. “The Undead” includes classic tales of survival in a world populated by the living dead as well as an array of unique takes on the zombie genre: zombies as reality entertainment, glimpses from inside the “life” of the undead, intergalactic war with humanity’s own dead turned against us, and everything in between. “The Undead” will leave zombie fans hungry for more!

Hopefully you’ve had a chance to read our reviews of Undead 2: Skin & Bones and Undead 3: Flesh Feast. This is the anthology that started the series. With tales from David Wellington, D.L. Snell, Andre Duza, David Moody and more (including an Afterword from Brian Keene).

The Undead shows off some great zombie fiction from some really talented authors. “Pale Moonlight” by D.L. Snell and “Home” by David Moody are my favorite tales in the book, but I can’t really say that any of them are bad. A few take a bit to get going, but all-in-all, the book is great fun for anyone who is a fan of zombies.

The Undead is available at

Strange Candy

From a woman who marries into a family of volatile wizards to a couple fleeing a gang of love-hungry cupids, from a girl who seeks sanctuary in the form of a graceful goose to the disgruntled superhero Captain Housework, readers will revel in the many twists and turns of fortune in these fantastical fairy tales and lush parables. Even hardened vampire hunter and zombie animator Anita Blake gets blindsided by the disturbing motives of her clients in the new “Those Who Seek Forgiveness” and in “The Girl Who Was Infatuated with Death.”

This is a collection of work from Anita Blake author, (interview). Several of these stories are new, having never been published before. As entertaining as the stories are, the best part of the book is the personal notes from the author at the beginning of each tale. Part history, part creative process, these little notes give us a look into her career and writing style.

There is one Anita Blake tale in the story, so fans of that series need not feel left out. It is an early work, so it is more along the style of Guilty Pleasures than Danse Macabre.

Strange Candy is available at

The Fair Folk

Six Tales of the Fey

Patricia McKillip, Jane Yolen and Midori Snyder, Tanith Lee, Megan Lindholm, Kim Newman, and Craig Shaw Gardner contribute stories of the fey to this award-winning collection. Some are frightful. Some are funny. Some are fair. Some are foul. All are fantastic.

Winner of the World Fantasy Award.

Quality Fairy tales can be difficult to write. They often either end up as kid stories or twisted personal fantasies. Neither of which hold much appeal for me.

I discovered this collection while I was looking for ideas for Changeling: the Lost. It worked. Tanith Lee, Patricia A. McKillip and company put together some great tales of the Fey. Some are dark, some are funny, I especially enjoyed Megan Lindholm’s “Grace Notes” as a tale of what happens when you get too much of a good thing.

The Fair Folk is available at

Douse the fire…

That set of mini-reviews should keep you reading for a bit. There are plenty of great anthologies available featuring work from established and brand-new authors alike. Hopefully something from the above list interests you.

Let us know about great short story collections you’ve read recently.

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One Response to “Flash Fire Mini-Reviews (Scary Short Stories)”

  1. FantasyGirl says:

    I just re-read several Kelley Armstrong books (the ones in the Paige Winterbourne series in particular) and posted a review “quickie” at my site. It reinforced my opinion of her as a writer: she’s one of the best urban fantasy writers around.

    I’ve got to check out Many Bloody Returns since it has stories by Charlaine Harris and Jim Butcher, two other great fantasy writers.

    And the Undead is definitely something I’ll have to recommend to a friend of mine; he’s into all things zombie.

    Good post.

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