Monday, October 15, 2007

Spooky Reads

I love horror stories. Probably even more than horror novels. There's just something perfectly satisfying about the compact form of a truly eerie short story. Recently two new horror story collections for teens came out, and several months back I scarfed down the offerings in Prom Dates from Hell, an anthology that tantalized the reader with stories from Stephenie Meyer, Meg Cabot, and Kim Harrison, among others.

Of the three collections, I most enjoyed Prom Nights from Hell. Each story was well written with good characters, a variety of conflict, and each centered on the various ways in which prom night can go horribly wrong.
You know---bad date, bad dress, vampire infestation, demonic attack. . .

The second collection was The Restless Dead, edited by Deborah Noyes. There are several very good stories in this one. I don't normally go gaga for Kelly Link's short stories, but the one featured in this book, "The Wrong Grave" was pretty satisfying. It's about a teenage boy whose love interest dies young. He puts some poems he's written in her coffin and a few months later regrets the impulse. What is a young poet to do but dig up his dead girlfriend's grave and reclaim his verse? Of course, when one digs up a grave, one should be sure to dig up the right grave. . . Another story I liked particularly was Annette Curtis Klause's "Kissing Dead Boys." Beware the scary vampire bars in town. . . I was most looking forward to the M.T. Anderson story in the book. This is because I was absolutely blown away by his story in Gothic: Ten Dark Tales and I couldn't wait to see what he'd written now. (His novel Thirsty is one of my favorite vampire novels.) I am sorry to report that my socks were not knocked off. Oh well. I had such high aspirations perhaps Mr. Anderson could simply not live up to them. Carrying on. . .
Lastly, I read 666: The Number of the Beast. Creepy cover, controversial Satanist-sounding title, spooky theme---what's not to like? The stories are what's not to like, that's what. I am going to be harsh but truthful. Most of the stories in this collection were a major disappointment. Several of the plots seemed to just peter out, or there were leaps in logic that defied reason, or the conclusions left me feeling completley ripped off. With the exception of the stories "Incident Report" and "Wolfsbane," I found very little to write home about (or blog about.) And the more I look at the cover, the sillier I think I find it. If you've read this book and you think I'm dead wrong in my assessment, let me know about it. It won't change my mind but at least we can enjoy a spirited discussion.

Anyway, it's Halloween month (as well as Teen Read Week) so you should get in the spirit by reading some dark tales.

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