Anthologies are a tricky business (tricky, tricky, tricky).
Sad to say that most anthologies leave me a bit cold. There will be some gems, but I rarely find that I enjoy EVERY story.
This wasn’t the case with Cemetery Dance’s upcoming Turn Down the Lights (out this month!), no – this time I found myself in the strange position of at least liking each story, and even loving a few of them. Okay, loving several of them (Brian James Freeman‘s “An Instant Eternity” is where the title of this post came from, and that story is fucking haunting, yo).
Let me back up.
A month ago I got an email from Cemetery Dance letting me know that there was a review copy of Turn Down the Lights on its way to me. No information other than that, except for a note saying that they were looking forward to hearing my thoughts on the first story.
SECRECY! INTRIGUE! OTHER EXCITING WORDS!
A few days later it arrived in my mailbox and I open it to see the first story is Stephen King! I scan the other authors and am mightily impressed.
Jack Ketchum. Clive Barker. Peter Straub.
It’s a veritable Who’s Who of Horror, y’know?
Turn Down the Lights celebrates the 25th anniversary of the very first issue of Cemetery Dance magazine, so it makes sense that they’d pull out all the stops with the big names and I was so glad they did. As I mentioned up there, this collection did not disappoint.
read devoured the stories in an afternoon, trying to make them last, but unable to control myself. Isn’t that what we all want? Books that compel us to just keep reading – more, more, faster! Yeah, this book has that in spades.
Read it for King’s “Summer Thunder,” which will give you chills even if you’re wrapped up in a blanket in front of a fire. King once again tackles the it’s-the-end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it-and-I’m-not-feeling-so-fine scenario. The ending is both uplifting as hell and bleak as shit. So there you go.
Read it for Barker’s deliciously creepy “Dollie.” I don’t even have words to talk about this one. It’s short and anything I say would be a spoiler. So. You’ll have to read it yourself.
Read it for Freeman’s (as I mentioned above) hauntingly sad “An Instant Eternity.” This is another one I don’t really have words for. I’ve read this one three times already, and still don’t know what to say about it.
Read it for Ed Gorman’s lovely little revenge tale “Flying Solo.” (I haven’t read Gorman before, but he’s sure as hell on my radar now.) Just because you’re a retiree with cancer doesn’t mean you’re unable to do a little dirty work. Loved this one. Read it twice in a row.
Just read the damn thing, okay? Especially if you’re a completist. If you’re one of those people who own everything any of these authors has written (even the kinda duds [looking at you, Cycle of the Werewolf]) you NEED this book. Need.