Wednesday, 17 January 2018

Fireside stories - a very spooky collection...


"For the month of October 2017, J. Ellington Ashton Press, on their Wicked Little Things blog-talk radio show, broadcasted a series of stories for Halloween. These “Fireside Stories” (as they were called) were a big hit with the listeners, and the decision was quickly made to publish these tales of terror into a kindle/paperback/audiobook anthology. The stories selected for our Fireside Stories segment came from a variety of popular JEA anthologies or short story collections (Quarantine, Within Stranger Aeons, Fear of the Dark, The Thicket, Vampz vs Wolvz, New England Weird, and Autumn Burning just to name a few) and were written by some of JEA’s top authors (Catt Dahman, Jim Goforth, Mark Woods, Michael Noe, Essel Pratt, Amanda M. Lyons, Michael Fisher, Toneye Eyenot, Kitty Kane, and Roma Gray). Some of the audio recordings were borrowed recordings from the existing audiobook Celebration of Horror 1: The Best of Roma Gray. We hope you enjoy them as much as we enjoyed writing them."  

Late last year, horror author and good friend, Roma Gray approached me with a proposition. She was putting together a collection of spooky stories to be broadcast on Halloween, and wanted to know if I had a favourite story I wanted to hear narrated.
I chose the story, Night Swimming, which appears in the short story collection, Nocturnal Nightmares, but Roma had another idea. She wanted to use the title story from my own collection, Fear of the Dark.
To say it was weird hearing a story I had written being read by someone else is a bit of an understatement, but all in all I was very pleased with the result and the person chosen to do the narrating did a very good job. (I forget his name right now, forgive me, but I'm sure Roma will remind me later.)

Much more recently, I finally got around to reading the rest of the stories also featured on that night, and I thought I would share with you my thoughts...

The book begins with a piece of poetry, written by the author, Kitty Kane, especially for Vampz Vendetta, one of the many Project 26 books that was released last year, but, as I have no doubt said before in the past, I don't really have much of a clue when it comes to poetry so I must confess there's not really that much I can say about this.

Next up is my story, Fear of the Dark, and of course, as it would be wholly unprofessional to review my own work, all I can say about this is that it was a lot of fun to write and largely inspired by one of my favourite Iron Maiden songs. (See if you can guess which one!)

The Pumpkin Man is next up and, as the first piece of work I have read by Michael Noe, I have to say I was very impressed. In this story, Noe takes the familiar concept of a slasher film and then gives it his own unique twist resulting in a neat little story that is a lot of fun to read.

Hope springs infernally eternal comes next, and again is another neat little story.
This one is written by the woman who first encouraged me to write, Catt Dahman, and is a clever little tale about a haunted hotel that ends up taking you in directions you would never expect, proving yet again - should proof be needed - that she hasn't lost her touch and is just as capable of shocking her readers now as she was right back at the start of her career.

October Night is the next offering, and once again is a piece of poetry but this time written by J.E.A veteran, Amanda M Lyons - an author with whom I have shared many an anthology in the past.
Again, as with Kitty Kane's poetry, unfortunately I'm afraid I'm going to have to take a pass on reviewing this as it could be the best poetry in the world and I'm afraid I simply could not judge, but what I will say is that Amanda is a very good writer and certainly well worth checking out.

Next up comes a little something from editor and author, Roma Gray - someone of whom I am a great admirer - with a stand-alone tale set in the same world as her Hunted tribe series and featuring her big bad, The Grishla.
This is a great little story, and a welcome addition to Roma's Grishla mythos that both thrills and entertains and is a very welcome filler until the next Hunted Tribe story comes out. (Hint hint)

Quarantine Query is up next, and is Scott Essel's Pratt story from the P26 anthology, edited by Miss Gray, that is funnily enough also titled Quarantine. This was one of my favourites of that anthology and a welcome addition here and is very clever in the way that it finds lot of imaginative uses of the letter Q during the course of the story, along with a neat little twist at the end. 

Nightscapes is next, and is another piece of poetry by Amanda M Lyons, and so, once again, for the reasons I have already mentioned, I will skip over reviewing this, but after that comes yet another story from editor and author, Roma Gray.
This time around the subject is Easter, but if you're expecting a cute, cuddly tale of the Easter bunny, then I suggest you think again. What we get here instead is a very scary tale of a sinister cult and an ending that I fully expect to stay with me for ages. 
If you're looking for a prime example of the kind of stuff you can normally expect to find, emerging from out of the pen of author, Roma Gray, then this one is about as good an example as you are ever going to get. As with many of her stories, Roma here exhibits a particularly mean streak and all I will say is I'm glad I'm not a character in one of her stories...

Michael Fisher comes next, and his story is taken from Within Stranger Aeons and is a story of one of Lovecraft's lesser known Old Gods.
Fisher, as always, spins a frightening tale and all set to the backdrop of yet another sinister cult.

Jim Goforth writes next, and though is better known for his work editing the Rejected for Content series, is also the author of Plebs - his debut novel which has already spanned a sequel in two parts with yet another book in the series due out at some point in the not too distant future.
Jim's story here is entitled Road Kill, and just as nasty as anything else you might have read from this author, just as you might expect.

 Quad is the final story in this anthology, and once again is taken from the P26 book, Quarrantine. 
Toneye Eyenot is the author of this one, which funnily enough was another of my favourites from Quarrantine and does a good job of wrapping everything up with a very different take on the apocalypse and what very well might be the last man standing.
Toneye Eyenot is a brilliant writer, and doesn't let the reader down here with a very chilling story guaranteed to send a chill down your spine.

Overall, this is a neat little collection.
Though occasionally it reads like a J.E.A greatest hits, this book provides a perfect chance to get to know a few of the press's most talented authors, and is a great little book to read late at night with lots of perfectly chilling tales to thrill and entertain you.

And I'm in it too, so what more could you ask?


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