Short story collection by Lucy A. Snyder, published by Raw Dog Screaming Press in October 2020.
Like a lot of horror writers, Snyder -- better known to us Everythingians as Lucy-S -- loves Halloween, and it's a little surprising to think it took this long to get a specifically Halloween-themed collection of her short stories put together. Some of them have only slight connections to the Best Holiday of the Year -- in other words, they may just be set near Halloween -- and a couple are really Christmas stories, but still, there's a nice big honkin' dose of Halloween goodness here for anyone who loves October 31.
So what kind of stories do we have here?
- Beggars' Night - For my money, probably the best Halloween poem in existence.
- Hazelnuts and Yummy Mummies - An accidental taste of drugged cookies sends a woman on a trip to the Halloweens of her past.
- Cosmic Cola - A Halloween-loving teenager moves to a new town with dark secrets and must escape from dangers she can't even imagine.
- What Dwells Within - Chaos spellcaster Jessie Shimmer and her familiar Pal, stars of Snyder's "Spellbent" series, track down a kidnap victim with a supernatural twist.
- The Porcupine Boy - Eddie Bellweather is an ex-punk who loves to help people -- but a close call with the powers of darkness will change his life forever.
- In the Family - When food allergies make life impossible, you must turn to your family for support.
- The Great VüDü Linux Teen Zombie Massacree - Got a bunch of teenaged zombies chasing you across West Texas? Best let the power of Linux (installed on a dead badger, of course) come to your aid!
- Wake Up Naked Monkey You're Going to Die - The final battle in the War on Christmas Monsters is not going well...
- The Tingling Madness - Facing danger from cultists with their own public access TV channels? Buckaroos and Ladybucks can change the channel to the only Chuck Tingle network, the Tingler!
Snyder's brand of twisted, knife-edge horror brings in lots of fans, and she brings her A-game here, particularly with tales like "Visions of the Dream Witch," "In the Family," and "The Kind Detective." She has the ability to get her stories under your skin, to take familiar tales in directions you didn't expect, and to surprise you with insights you never expected.
She also shows some excellent skills for YA fiction -- "Cosmic Cola" has some very strong horror vibes, but its young protagonist is wonderfully appealing and fun -- plus there are some possible connections to other upcoming YA Snyder fiction, too.
And Halloween is a fun holiday, too, not just a day for blood and guts, and this collection probably has more light-hearted tales than have been in a single collection by Snyder since her earlier days. Almost every other story has some strong humor elements, and about half could be classified as punch-your-mouth funny. So yes, it's more than possible to get your laughs and your scares at the same time -- just like any good Halloween.
The book also features an outstanding and beautiful cover of kids trick-or-treating at a giant pumpkin house -- with some dire tricks waiting on the other side of the door -- by artist Lynne Hansen.
So yes, kids, go pick it up! Get it before Halloween if you can, but it's the kind of book that lets you enjoy spooky season all year 'round.