Anthology Review: Thing in the Bucket (Chilling Horror Short Stories)

Title: Thing in the Bucket (Chilling Horror Short Stories)

Author: Eric Esser

Genre: Short Story, Horror, Paranormal, Historical fiction

Pages: 8 (134-142)

Thoughts:

The more I sit on this story, the more I realize that the Thing in the Bucket is creepy on several levels. First, it’s set in a time when blood-letting was considered a viable cure for various diseases and foul moods. The sight or description of blood doesn’t bother me, unless it’s my own, but the concept of blood-letting just makes me shiver because it’s such a gruesome technique that people willingly participated in. Second, after going back and thinking about some of the events that occurred they seem a bit surreal, impossible to have actually occurred naturally. Therefore, there was a subtle shift into the paranormal that may catch some readers off guard, like myself. Thirdly, there was a delicate transformation of the main character that isn’t overly apparent until the very end when the metaphor in the story was realized.

While the story’s diction doesn’t really allude to a past time, the events and various superstitions of the people described hint at an older time long gone. If there was more dialogue I would have preferred for the author to try and use older words and meaning to give this story more authenticity, but the time wasn’t the main focus of this story. Instead, it is the inner workings of one character’s mind and motives and how they change due to their choices. While there is gore within this story, it isn’t overtly described, just enough to paint a decent picture. Overall, this was a thoroughly creepy and interesting story that I’m sure some high school teacher would love to have their students dissect for hidden meanings.

Rating:

4/5

Thing in the Bucket is an odd kind of horror story. Nothing jumps out and screams ‘Boo!’ Instead Esser invokes a niggling sense of unease in the back of the mind that grows the more you think over the story. Not everyone will find this story chilling, but those who do may find it increasingly more enjoyable than others. If you’re not a fan of blood I wouldn’t give this story a read.

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Anthology Review: A Game of Conquest (Chilling Horror Short Stories)

Title: A Game of Conquest (Chilling Horror Short Stories)

Author: David A. Elsensobn

Genre: Short Story, Horror, Paranormal, Historical fiction

Pages: 6 (128-133)

Thoughts:

A Game of Conquest is a simple paranormal tale that doesn’t contain much action. However it is still a strong story because of the imagination and details the author weaves into it. He turns a simple game into another story, one that reveals the true nature of each player and the conclusion of the tale. I can’t really say much more without giving anything away, but the author found an interesting way to portray his characters to the reader, giving them much about their pasts but still keeping the story interesting.

Set in the 1840s, the author tries to emulate the language and mannerisms of the time to help immerse the readers into the story. Elsensobn writes poetry with his descriptions, making them vivid and simple, but with a flare of the time through choice wording. Overall a brilliant and imaginative telling of a simple enough idea that is less than original.

Rating:

5/5

A Game of Conquest is a quick, fast paced read for anyone who wants a brief moment in a paranormal past! The language, while older, is still rather easy to understand and doesn’t hinder the pacing of the story. Anyone who wants a good, vivid read will enjoy this short story. The only people I doubt will like this one is anyone who isn’t a fan of historical fiction.

Anthology Review: Leonora (Chilling Horror Short Stories)

Title: Leonora (Chilling Horror Short Stories)

Author: Elise Forier Edie

Genre: Short Story, Horror, Paranormal, Historical fiction

Pages: 6 (122-127)

Thoughts:

Leonora was not what I was expecting when I started reading. At first, I thought I was going to read another boring story, but better written than the last one. Then the author started throwing out little hints to the direction the story would go. If you’re familiar with the mythology the author was playing with, then you would have known right away. However, if you’re like me and wasn’t aware, then you quickly and shockingly get turned on your head by the surprise. Eide uses that shock to change the tone of her story and to add to the overall emotion of the climax.

The author’s voice is spectacular in Leonora. The language and diction definitely gives off an older feel to the story, helping to transport you back in time. For those well versed in history you may be able to guess the time period this story was aiming for, but if not it doesn’t really hinder the appeal of the story. The descriptions are very deliberate, the author choosing what things to focus on to add to the experience and mood of the reader. Overall, it’s a fantastic short story that both horrifies and intrigues.

Rating:

5/5

Leonora is a fabulous, quick and easy read for most readers. I wouldn’t suggest it to anyone who is uncomfortable with gore, while the scene is brief it did make me a little queasy reading it. If you love mythology, gore, or want a good shock then I recommend this highly!

Anthology Review: The Funnel Tube (Chilling Horror Short Stories)

Title: The Leather Funnel (Chilling Horror Short Stories)

Author: Arthur Conan Doyle

Genre: Short Story, Horror, Paranormal, Historical-fiction

Pages:  8 (109-116)

Thoughts:

The Leather Funnel wasn’t quite what I was I expecting. At first I thought I might come across another story entirely driven by conversation, except this time you could read both characters’ actions and reactions. However, the meat of the story is told within a dream and it is described like something happening on a stage. Mainly this story deals with questions regarding dreams and objects with intense emotion surrounding them. The more frightening elements of the story, at least for me, are of certain archaic actions described in some detail. For those who love history, The Leather Funnel may intrigue you because it includes a fictional depiction of Madeleine d’Aubray, Madame de Brinvilliers, a convicted murder from France. I personally had to look up the history behind the woman, and when I did the things described in the short story were made all the more gruesome.

The story for the most part is well written. There are a few awkward transitions in which the author knew the direction he wanted to go, but not quite sure how to get there. The language is a bit dated, which is to be expected since it was originally published in 1922. Doyle properly introduces the two main characters in the beginning, though some of their exchanged dialogue read a little strangely and I wasn’t sure if it was done purposely or not.

Rating:

4/5

Overall, The Leather Funnel was an excellent read with a fantastic concept! I would recommend this to any history lover or French history buff. I would also recommend this to anyone who is fascinated with dreams or old forms of torture. Nothing is too graphically explained within this short story, it actually stops before the real events take place so there’s no strong depiction of what happens. However, it is hinted at strongly as to what will happen and it may be strong enough to disturb some people, so read at your own risk.

Anthology Review: The Yellow Sign (Chilling Horror Short Stories)

Title: The Yellow Sign (Chilling Horror Short Stories)

Author: Robert W. Chambers

Genre: Short Story, Horror, Historical-fiction

Pages:  12 (56-67)

Thoughts:

It has taken me a while to sort through all my thoughts for The Yellow Sign, and unfortunately, I don’t think that will ever happen. The story was originally written in 1895 and seems to be a little easier to read than other works of the time. While there were some phrasing and terminology that took me a moment to decipher, it was still a wonderfully written piece with more hard details than poetic ramblings. Don’t get me wrong, I love poetic writing but this story was definitely better without it.

The main character of this short story did very little to impress me, his thoughts and opinions made me dislike him and ramblings. While there were no long passages of useless thoughts, there were still mentioned details that seemed to add no real depth to the story at all. There’s mentions of mysterious and/or tragic past lovers, mentions of The King in Yellow, and supposed tragedy befalling people he knew who read the work. Doing some research, I’ve found that The King in Yellow is a play that the author mentions in some of his other short stories as well, but have found very little to do with the content of the mentioned work. While The Yellow Sign was a bit disturbing, I found it less enjoyable because I didn’t understand the importance of The King in Yellow and the obvious pull it had on the plot.

Rating:

Overall, The Yellow Sign was an interesting story that left me with some chills but nothing more. I would recommend this one to any classic literature lover or anyone familiar with The King in Yellow. Otherwise, I don’t think many readers will find this tale as frightening as it may have been when originally published and the tales of The King in Yellow were a bit fresher in the public mind.

3/5

 

Anthology Review: The Dying Art (Chilling Horror Short Stories)

Title: The Dying Art (Chilling Horror Short Stories)

Author: Glen Damien Campbell

Genre: Short Story, Horror, Historical-fiction

Pages:  8 (48-55)

Thoughts:

The Dying Art really surprised me. For whatever reason, I haven’t really liked a lot of stories (books or movies) that involve magicians, mostly because I can’t stand the main characters and their usually high-class pompous attitudes. However, this short story was not what I was expecting and I really enjoyed it.

Written in 2014, The Dying Art is written through the perspective of a Londoner in the 1900s, and Campbell was able to write in such a way to reflect the time of the story. It was refreshing to read a historical-fiction with the voice and dialogue that matched the era, including vocabulary and phrases that are no longer used today. While written in an older voice, the story pacing is still very familiar to current readers. There are no long passages of unnecessary internal monologues or scenery descriptions. Instead, Campbell rolls the story along, covering something like 40 years in a handful of pages and giving enough detail to inform and enthrall his readers.

Rating:

I think so far, this is one of my favorite short stories in this anthology, a few of the others have been great but this one has not only creeped me out but also made me laugh. The latter is a bit more trivial and has more to do with an uncommon phrase that brought a funny image to mind, but still I give the author high marks for making me laugh and then check the windows a few pages later. I would definitely recommend this story to anyone, especially those who love magic, mystery, or a more classical narrative. The Dying Act, is another story that has an open ending and you’re left guessing between two possible endings, which I think just adds to the creepy factor but might anger some readers.

5/5

Anthology Review: The Watcher by the Threshold (Chilling Horror Short Stories)

Title: The Watcher by the Threshold (Chilling Horror Short Stories)

Author: John Buchan

Genre: Short Story, Horror, Gothic

Pages:  12 (36-47)

Thoughts:

I have to say that I was a little disappointed with The Watcher by the Threshold. It was really hard for me to get into the story and I never really did. It didn’t help that there’s what I assume to be a typo in the first sentence, which claimed the story was set in the year 189. At first, I thought nothing of it but then how the author started describing the scenery, the architecture, clothing, etc. didn’t really fit with the timeline. I kept pausing, stepping away from the story, to try and make sense of what was going on, and it wasn’t until the mention of a watch that I decided that the story was set in the late 1800s. I’ve tried finding info on the short story, but have found absolutely nothing to help me, so by the time I figured out the setting a lot of my interest in the story was lost.

I also kept being pulled from the story because of its length. The Watcher by the Threshold is told through the first person perspective of a lawyer character, and he goes through passages of long-winded descriptions, thoughts, and opinions. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a lover of long-winded fantasies and the like, but when it’s a short story about a character we know next to nothing about I find the long thoughtful passages to be quite tedious to read. In fact, there may have been a few times in which I dosed off while reading this short story.

Rating:

2/5

As much as I like older stories, this one just really wasn’t for me. While the writing was beautiful, it was often tedious to read and follow. It also didn’t help that I didn’t really care for the voice of the main character, so his constant internal complaints about his surroundings just grated on my nerves. The long passages made for a slow pace that really didn’t change in speed, and the ending fell short of any impressionable impact. The Watcher by the Threshold wasn’t very scary, I was curious as to what was wrong with one of the characters, but it was never really made clear. The story was slightly disturbing, but the feeling didn’t last long. I’m sure there are classic literature buffs that would love this story, but I was not a fan.