motherhorror's review

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If you follow my book reviews or read my blog, you'll know I'm a huge fan of anthologies. I love a big round-up of horror's best, especially in a themed anthology.
WELCOME TO THE SHOW centers on The Shantyman, a bar in the Tenderloin district of San Fransisco. The tales are told from The Shantyman's past and present and not one story is alike because of the wide variety of storytelling voices represented here.
I thought I would highlight some of my favorites from the collection:
NIGHT AND DAY AND IN BETWEEN by Jonathan Janz- Set in the 1920s, I loved the descriptions of hard-edged men & a woman named Clara singing in a sequined dress. This one starts out innocuous enough, a tough guy goes to a night club to watch an old flame perform but then by the end, things are so much more...insidious.

WOLF WITH DIAMOND EYES by Pat Lacey- This one scared me! It was one of those tales involving the occult with a curse that could be passed on in a verbal chant. Very creepy.

A TONGUE LIKE FIRE by Rachel Autumn Deering- This one got under my skin. In just a few pages, Rachel managed to tell a lasting tale of a father's grief and the power of words.

OPEN MIC NIGHT by Kelli Owen- This was Kelli's take on the "Devil at the Crossroads" legend and I loved it. I always show up for a femme fatale/noir atmosphere.

TRUE STARMEN by Max Booth III-Laugh-out-loud funny. Max Booth III calls the corner pocket in horror comedy. Loved it!

I also enjoyed the stories from Matt Serafini, Adam Cesare, Bob Ford, and Somer Canon
Some of the stories were not as successful for me, Bryan Smith's, for example, was an odd mix of body horror and psychedelic imagery. It was just, not for me. There were a few missteps in here-they were not necessarily bad stories, I just think they either didn't mesh well with the others or they just were not a brand of storytelling that appealed to me. But a standing ovation to Matt Hayward and Doug Murano for having this brilliant idea for a theme and then editing such a huge group of talented authors. Well done! One little, tiny knit-picking complaint would be that I didn't like the font used on the titles of each story and the several first was weird and hard to read. (sorry)
I would highly recommend this anthology for fans of who enjoy heavy themes of music, lyrics, rock & roll and cultural influences mixed with classic horror tropes like ghosts, hauntings, paranormal occurrences, and the occult.

biblio_beth's review

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Gotta be honest here. I only read some of these but what I read, I really liked.

charshorrorcorner's review

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4.5/5 stars!

WELCOME TO THE SHOW is a themed anthology with all of the stories revolving around, (or involving in some way), a rock 'n' roll club named The Shantyman. That's it! There's no hard thread connecting all the tales other than the club itself. That makes WELCOME TO THE SHOW different because there's no one "bad guy" to blame things on. In this case, the "bad guy" is anyone or anything the writer wanted them to be. In this regard, I think the authors involved had a lot more leeway as far as the direction each story would take and I think that resulted in an above average anthology as far as the quality AND the variety of the stories within.

I can't get into all of them here, because I don't want this review to be as long as the book itself, but the ones that stood out the most to me were:

WHAT SORT OF RUBE by Alan M. Clark. A was a perfect start to this book, providing a bit of history and setting the tone. (I've never read any of Clark's work before, but he's on my radar now.)

NIGHT AND DAY AND IN BETWEEN by Jonathan Janz. This story went in a totally different direction than what I had expected. Loved it!

TRUE STARMEN by Max Booth. I'm not sure that it was supposed to, but this story cracked me the hell me up! It's the first time The Shantyman hosted pod-casters instead of a band, and the results just made me laugh.

OPEN MIC NIGHT by Kelli Owen. The 27 Club-you know, those singers and musicians that never made it past that age? I thought this anthology would be a shoe-in for stories about that club, but this was the only one. I was glad because it made this tale stand out even more.

PARODY by Jeff Strand. Zany Chester and his plans to be the next Weird Al fizzle out before they even got started. (It's birdies, not bodies!) Chester had to go to a few back up plans, actually, and none of them were pretty.

DARK STAGE by Matt Hayward. This tale spoke to me in a personal way which made it that much more horrifying at the end.

A TONGUE LIKE FIRE by Rachel Autumn Deering. The end was NOT what I was expecting at the beginning. Usually I can see that this case I saw something coming, but not what I got. Well done!

Brian Keene's tale RUNNING FREE made me laugh at the premise before it got all serious. (A man trying to run himself to death by heart attack, thereby evading death from the cancer already running through his body. Come on, that's kind of funny! [All right, I know I'm messed up.]) Anyway, this story didn't go the way I thought it would and I loved how it tied into previous tales in this book.

WE SING IN DARKNESS by Mary SanGiovanni. This story had everything that I've come to expect from Mary's work. A terrifying future where music is banned is only the beginning.

I enjoyed this collection and even though it was a little uneven throughout, the variety and quality more than made up for that. I liked that everyone didn't have quite the same view was to what was going on at The Shantyman because that allowed for more creativity in the tales. Variety is the spice of life and all that, you know?

I read a lot of collections and anthologies over the course of a year and there is no doubt in my mind that WELCOME TO THE SHOW will be among the best I've read this year. For this reason, I highly recommend it!

You can get your copy here:

*11.12.18 We are currently reading this book, along with most of the authors in the Horror Aficionados Group at Goodreads. Feel free to join us, read along, and ask questions of the writers, if you like! (Our read continues until the end of this month.) Here's a link:*

**I bought this book with my hard earned cash and these opinions are my own.*

el_stevie's review

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Seventeen stories fill these pages, all linked together by their common setting – The Shantyman, a bar and club, cursed, home to demons and vampires, aliens and madmen across the decades. Each story brings its own visitors to The Shantyman - customers, staff and performers – none of them leave in the same way, if at all.
This is a strong selection and a collection in which all clamour for the title of ‘favourite’. Some though did exert a slightly stronger pull, including What Sort of Rube – a good choice for an opener and one which paints The Shantyman immediately in dark tones. A crippled victim of misfortune and cannibalism attempts to dissuade a musician from performing at the club by telling him how the venue came to be cursed in the first place. The musician heeds the warning and leaves, he survives. Many in the following stories do not. After this, you know something will always go wrong at The Shantyman. Night and Day and in Between is a tale of vampiric love, romance dining on an opened vein, In the Winter of No Love takes you on a trip of disintegration and oblivion, whilst murder is played out to the music in Wolf with Diamond Eyes. Pilgrimage brings you the most unfortunate time-traveller ever, picked up by members of the Manson Family to become ‘practise’ material whilst A Tongue Like Fire feeds a story of grief and suicide. From the attempted demonic takeover in Master of Beyond, the poisoned chalice of a cure to all ills in Dark Stage and the curse of a contract with the devil in Open Mic Night, The Shantyman shows how time fails to dull the impact of its cursed nature. True Starmen with its cult ending, the desperate ‘wannabe’ in Parody, the nightmare of discovering the reality of a previously online relationship in Ascending, the death throes of a relationship in Beat on This, the madness and obsession of Just to be Seen all continue the dark influences which touch the lives of the club’s patrons. The anthology finishes strongly with The Southern Thing and Running Free, but my own personal overall favourite must be We Sang in Darkness, a very dark story which plays with your mind. Do you believe in the alien creature or is that being simply the image the main character created to reflect his own descent into madness and cannibalism? Having re-read it, I’m still not certain and I don’t mind that at all.
An excellent collection of original stories and refreshing twists on traditional tropes. Sometimes a curse can deliver good things …

bobmetal's review

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An excellent short story collection. I enjoyed all 17 of the stories and the range of horrors contained in them

The standouts for me were,

Pilgrimage by Bryan Smith
A tounge like fire by Rachel Autumn Deering
Dark Stage by Matt Hayward
Open Mic Night by Keli Owen
Parody by Jeff Strand
The Southern Thing by Adam Cesare

Well worth reading