wellwortharead's review

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I love short horror stories and these 22 dark tales will make you wonder whether abandoned places are really as empty as they appear.
My favorites were The Storybook Forest by Norman Prentiss in which a small group of friends gather in an abandoned children's theme park for a few beers and a night of terror. Along that same theme was Lullaby Land by Mark Onspaugh. A once crowded theme park long since closed after a tragedy... but children still manage to find their way there as kidnappers Mitch and Del are about to discover. The Theater by Dennis Copelan finds Leonard Brown, taking a bittersweet final walk through of his movie theater before signing the final sale papers.
Drive-In of the Damned by Michael Arruda was another of my favorites. Three paranormal investigators stake out a haunted drive in hoping to gain enough popularity on their YouTube channel to get a tv show. Bodies Without Souls by L.L. Soares finds Michael about to give a beach party while his parents are away, when an empty yacht mysteriously floats into easy reach. What's the worst that could happen if he turns his beach party into a boat party? Emily by JW Schnarr is the story of a missing girl and what happens to two friends who joined her search party in the woods.
High Desert by Lisa Morton finds Kara seeking shelter from the heat when Tadd goes off for help after they have car trouble in the desert while checking out an area where a religious cult mysteriously disappeared. Dream Home by D.L. Snell is not exactly about a haunted house, but a house that will haunt you. The Pressboard Factory by Peter N. Dudar was my absolute favorite. Billy and Ryan grew up together, but were not much alike. Ryan was picked on, belittled and bullied not just at school but abused at home right up until the day he just couldn't take it anymore.
All of the above, for me were the 5 star stories in this collection.

I received a complimentary copy for review.

mikekaz's review

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This collection of short stories focuses on abandoned places, like closed down factories or abandoned amusement parks in the middle of nowhere or old diners. Places that have a natural creepy factor since they were once alive and active locations but now are dead or dying, ignored. The ghosts that are hiding behind the flipped table or the noises that you can't figure out while standing in a pitch dark room. The potential seems massive. Unfortunately I don't think the collection lived up to it. By no means were the stories or the collection bad; I just wasn't scared or creeped out or given chills like I hoped that I would be. Most of the stories had good concepts. And only a few had flat characters that made bad decisions solely to move the story forward. It might have been me. Lately I've been craving stories with length and depth and characters that change. All of those are hard to provide in 20-30 pages. It meant instead that I had to find that elusive "something" to connect to the story. Anyway I've listed my favorites below and why I liked them. You should be able to find some that you connect to also.

"The Storybook Forest" by Norman Prentiss - The first of two abandoned amusement park stories. I could easily see the events happening. And the ending of not quite knowing if something or nothing happened was great.

"And Then There Were None" by Deborah LeBlanc - A woman helps senior citizens abandoned in a hospital during the middle of Hurricane Katrina. The twist comes with the introduction of the other group of people.

"The Privy" by Piers Anthony - A hilarious story about a young man who inherits from his uncle an outhouse in the middle of nowhere.

"The Pressboard Factory" by Peter N. Dudar - This story was one of the scarier ones from the perspective of what a person might do to himself. It also had characters that I identified with but also disliked. It was a weird dichotomy to accept while reading a story about someone who can't accept who he is. There were more levels to it than I expected.

"Ghost Town" by Joe McKinney - This story benefits from being the longest in the book. It centers on two detectives who must deal with the results of a third detective being drunk at the wrong time. The story involves guilt, responsibility, and examining yourself. A nice way to end the book.