Short Story Review: The Murdered Cousin (Chilling Horror Short Stories)

Title: The Murdered Cousin (Chilling Horror Short Stories)

Author: Sheridan Le Fanu

Genre: Short Story, Horror, Gothic

Pages: 20 (142-161)

Thoughts:

For the life of me I could not finish this short story. It took me days to try to read it and I only got about six pages in before I just couldn’t do it anymore. At first I wanted to give myself a little break because while on their own not many of these stories scared me, but when mixed together they can be quite frightening. My brain decided to do just that and I had a rather disturbing nightmare that convinced me to take a short break from the short stories, especially since this one was titled The Murdered Cousin, which one can assume is scary. Honestly, I don’t know if it is a frightening tale because six pages in and the actually story is starting to unfold.

The first few pages of the story is nothing but backstory as to why the main character is going to the location of the story. It’s not that long of a back story, but the writing is so dreadfully convoluted that it takes forever for the author to say anything. I’ve read old stories and normally there’s a little bit of a grace period for me to switch from current writing to something older, but I just couldn’t do it with this one.

The sentence structure is terrible, while grammatically correct they can run on for lines and lines and lines at a time being separated by semicolons instead of periods. There’s no variance in the sentence structure either, their either long with multiple thoughts or they’re really short. The paragraphs are much the same way, really short or half the page. I think the longest sentence that I found was one of three in a single paragraph, it took up several lines and had about six or seven semicolons. That all bothers me because my brain just can’t stay focused on a style like that. Many times I found myself yawning and fighting sleep in the middle of the day while reading this.

Rating:

Did not finish. So I can’t actually give this a rating, but I can give a list as to why I couldn’t finish.

  • Impossibly long sentences, but actually grammatically correct, they just aren’t done anymore.
  • 6 pages in and we’re just getting to the start of the actual story.
  • 6 pages of nothing but back ground, but not a whole lot of back ground to cover, just a lot of thoughts that take up several pages.
  • After several pages I know more about the non-perspective main character than the main character telling the actually story.
  • There’s some intrigue to keep me reading, but not enough to endure the writing style.
  • Paragraphs are either short with impossibly long sentences or long with a mixture of short and long sentences.
  • Really just feels like word vomit sometimes.
  • I couldn’t stay awake enough to keep me invested in the story. A minute after putting it down, I would stop yawning and feel a hundred times more awake.

The biggest problem for me was the author’s writing style, it was not something I could enjoy even with a bit of effort. But if it’s something that doesn’t bother you I would give The Murdered Cousin a try, the idea and premise sounded interesting enough.

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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.

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: In Search of a New Wilhelm (Chilling Horror Short Stories)

Title: In Search of a New Wilhelm (Chilling Horror Short Stories)

Author: John H. Dromey

Genre: Short Story, Horror, Science Fiction

Pages: 5 (117-121)

Thoughts:

In Search of a New Wilhelm is a less impressive rip off of Alien. It’s five pages of awkward, barely realistic dialogue between one unbearable individual and another. The beginning makes little sense, the characters just sort of appear in a place together and the author tries to string together an excuse for how they got there. The author gives little descriptive information outside of the dialogue. In fact, the author does very little outside of the long diarrhea of chatter between the two characters, with one doing more talking than the other. There is absolutely no emotion in this piece. None. I hate bugs and Alien freaks me the hell out, but this story only makes me feel revulsion that one of these sick bastards is sicker than the other.

This short story barely makes any sense. I can barely call it science fiction because while it does deal with extra ordinary creatures they aren’t described, none of the tech is described, and there’s a brief mention of a top secret organization that barely plays a role in this story. The author’s voice is barely present. The description in nonexistent. While I don’t mind a lot of dialogue and I understand some stories must be driven by it, the dialogue here is just so awkward and robotic that it’s not very enjoyable.

Rating:

1/5

In Search of Wilhelm was a major miss for me. While the idea has some value, if you like the concept of Alien, the delivery was lackluster. Some people may enjoy this short story, and I would only recommend this story to people who like bugs or the Alien series. If you don’t like either of those things, then I highly suggest you skip this one all together.

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 Screaming Skull (Chilling Horror Short Stories)

Title: The Screaming Skull (Chilling Horror Short Stories)

Author: F. Marion Crawford

Genre: Short Story, Horror, Gothic, Paranormal

Pages:  18 (88-105)

Thoughts:

Oh dear Lord in heaven! I’m too embarrassed to admit how long it took me to read this one, but I stopped so many times to keep my nerves from fraying, and not from fright but boredom. Have you ever listened to a person on the phone and not be able to hear the caller on the other end? Sometimes that one side of the conversation that you can hear is interesting, but usually you grow bored of hearing just the one person’s commentary. That’s what this story was, a one-sided conversation between two old friends, unfortunately there was no telephone involved.

The Screaming Skull first reads like someone is narrating a story, but after a few paragraphs the main character switches from one story to another that has nothing to do with the first. It’s then that I realized that the main character is having a conversation to an old friend, one who hasn’t heard the first story but shares in the memories of the second. By this time the second character, the old friend, hasn’t noticeably said a word. A little later, I finally figured out that I’m reading a two person conversation but the author is only acknowledging what the second person is saying by the reactions of the main character. There’s no action. There’s no real setting set up, other than the few things mentioned in the nonstop dialogue. There’s no he said she said, not even a single quotation mark, unless retelling what someone else said. So it’s basically an eighteen page conversation between two old friends, but the author only bothers to record the one side. Sometimes you get the jist of what the friend says to the main character, but other times it’s hard to tell if the friend spoke at all. While no action is described, it is narrated by the main character as he tells his friend exactly what he’s doing or has done since leaving the room. The entire story isn’t a nonstop conversation, towards the end it does shift but it’s so sudden that’s a little disorienting and it cuts the story off abruptly.

Rating:

2/5

The overall idea of The Screaming Skull was extremely interesting and at times chilling.

However, I hate how the author told the story. I normally don’t enjoy dialogue focused stories, especially if that’s the only thing driving the plot. It’s a shame I couldn’t like this story more because the concept is still quite original! The Screaming Skull would probably be a lot better and scarier if done as a play or some other visual media. Honestly, I don’t know who I would recommend this to…