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I really enjoy the weekly ‘Trembling With Fear' which is published by ‘The Horror Tree’ each Sunday afternoon or evening. Conover and Ellis do an excellent job of selecting a short story and three drabbles every issue. It’s well subscribed too. It usually takes several months between getting a story accepted and seeing it in print. This collection brings together all the special calls from 2018 – Valentine’s, Halloween and Christmas. There’s a section on Serial Killers and the ‘Unholy Trinity’ features. The Valentine's section has vows renewed ‘guns to the head' as fiancée’s have ulterior motives for letting out their flats for parties. Do you want blood? There’s certainly plenty of that to drink to here. Then perhaps you can round it off with the slow dance of verse and the rhyming couplets:
She drew him to the bed Threw him on his back When the knife plunged in His body went slack [...]
Whatever your poison – a dozen red roses, candles or errr...poison – you’ll find something to celebrate with Valentine’s. Couvaras' serialised ‘Serial Killers' is well accomplished. This ‘coated tongue' in cheek follows Clyde who knows how to walk. Especially at night, Clyde Atteridge finally returns in ‘Wet Ash' to round up a feast of witty dialogues and improper rendezvous with things best whispered in the dark. These connected vignettes are really entertaining. The Halloween section has plenty of treats and tricks in the mix of poetry and prose. You’ll find unusual pie ingredients and even less savoury creatures. If you find that the burrowing ant is unsettling just leaf back and re-read McSweeney's ‘crawler' story. There are longer stories in the Christmas section. But stop by the ‘The Unholy Trinity' before we conclude our festivities because W. E. Pearson really knows how to wake the senses – even in death. These three related pieces are tightly written and visceral. The Christmas section is well represented with plenty of presents that you would not ask for, high spirits and some that stoop much lower, Santa and things that are definitely not Santa. If you like Christmas, check out these dark tales. Finally, Alison Faye ties it all up with a dark extended piece that will make you check upon your sleeping children ‘just one more time.’ A lovely dried out, sewage stenched tale.
What I didn’t like about this book
I really enjoyed the mix of themes and the many different voices. The writers are described as new and seasoned and the book reflects this diversity. You may think that the pieces would vary in quality. But the editors have definitely taken their time in selecting these handpicked tales. If I have one criticism, then it’s a personal one: I’m not a fan of Christmas, Valentine’s or Halloween. But that’s just me. I did enjoy the variance on a set theme though. So, I will wholly recommended this anthology – especially if you like any of the socially constructed holidays.
Why you should buy this book
The strength of writings are excellent and varied. There’s plenty to apple bob or unwrap; short flash and longer pieces. Also, it’s a nice mix of fictions and verse from a well respected Horror publication that serves readers and authors well.