Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Two Horror Collections

One Buck Horror, Volume 1

My rating: 4/5 stars
I've been checking out some horror anthologies lately. First, volume one of the One Buck Horror series. Really, the title says it all, and any questions that might remain are answered by the cover. It's a fun collection of pretty decent horror tales bundled together at a really low price.

It's a surprisingly solid collection of five stories, all of them effective, all of them entertaining. The unifying theme is children in peril, an effective choice. We've all been kids, and we've all known what it's like to be powerless, at the mercy of the people around you. Some of the stories are darker than others, but even the light ones have a nasty undertone to them that gives them a real punch.

A boy brings a bit of slime from the monster in his friend's basement to school for show and tell, and the real horror is what you read between the lines. Three kids visit a travelling circus after dark, and even discovering that the alligator man is real isn't the worst thing they find. A predatory old man has plans for his latest victim, a young runaway, but his previous victims have a plan of their own. A boy encounters a werewolf in a cornfield, and flees for the safety of home, until he learns the truth of where the wolf came from. And a boy puts his trust in the wrong parent when a marital spat mixes with black magic.

It's a thoroughly enjoyable collection, worth a lot more than the price would indicate. And there's lots more where that came from. The series is up to volume 5 so far.

Darker Than Noir

My rating: 4/5
I saw this book and knew I had to have it.  I wasn't disappointed, either.  There are some startlingly excellent stories in here.  There is some really great stuff, and for some reason it's priced at a buck.  As an ebook it's only available for Kindle at the moment, unfortunately.  You can get a paperback copy instead.

It's an awesome idea, a blend of the noir mystery genre and supernatural horror.  Most of the protagonists are world-weary private detectives, with some cops and civilians mixed in.  There's a gumshoe with demonic connections, and an ex-cop whose soul is in limbo, which makes him a uniquely-qualified freelancer when the Vatican is facing a tough exorcism.  An immortal investigator chases the mother of Hansel and Gretel from life to life as she murders the innocent in a quest to resurrect her children.  An insurance investigator captures a demon on video.  

They face a kitsune in Japan, a mad scientist, amateur Satanists, and the demonically possessed.  Sometimes they prevail.  Sometimes they lose their lives.  Sometimes they lose much more.

There are eighteen stories in the collection, and many of them are excellent.  Several are outstanding.  A few are mediocre, and some of them need better editing.  One story is so sick I couldn't read it.  You won't have trouble figuring out which one.  It's got a title so vulgar I won't type in in my blog.  

I was hugely impressed by some parts of the collection, but I was frustrated, too.  The formatting is crap.  Half-assed, sloppy crap.  Every paragraph is left-aligned, with no spaces between paragraphs.  Then there will be places where an entire page is indented for no particular reason.  In a couple of places, pages and pages are in italics.  It's amateurish.  

Still, the good parts are so good it's more than worth your while to endure the hamfisted formatting and hit-and-miss editing.  It annoyed me, but I still have to recommend Darker Than Noir.

Get One Buck Horror at Smashwords

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