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Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Book Review: Haunted Nights (A Horror Writers Association Anthology)

Haunted Nights
Editors: Lisa Morton, Ellen Datlow
Contributors/Authors: Seanan McGuire, Stephen Graham Jones, Jonathan Maberry, Joanna Parypinski, Garth Nix, Kate Jonez, Jeffrey Ford, Kelley Armstrong, S. P. Miskowski, Brian Evenson, Elise Forier Edie, Eric J. Guignard, Paul Kane, Pat Cadigan, John Langan, John R. Little
October 3, 2017

368 Pages
Publisher: Anchor
ASIN: B06XBQ444Q ISBN: 9781101973837
Sixteen never-before-published chilling tales that explore every aspect of our darkest holiday, Halloween, co-edited by Ellen Datlow, one of the most successful and respected genre editors, and Lisa Morton, a leading authority on Halloween.

In addition to stories about scheming jack-o'-lanterns, vengeful ghosts, otherworldly changelings, disturbingly realistic haunted attractions, masks that cover terrifying faces, murderous urban legends, parties gone bad, cult Halloween movies, and trick or treating in the future, Haunted Nights also offers terrifying and mind-bending explorations of related holidays like All Souls' Day, Dia de los Muertos, and Devil's Night.

"With Graveyard Weeds and Wolfbane Seeds" by Seanan McGuire
"Dirtmouth" by Stephen Graham Jones
"A Small Taste of the Old Country" by Jonathan Maberry
"Wick’s End" by Joanna Parypinski
"The Seventeen Year Itch" by Garth Nix
"A Flicker of Light on Devil’s Night" by Kate Jonez
"Witch-Hazel" by Jeffrey Ford
"Nos Galen Gaeaf" by Kelley Armstrong
"We’re Never Inviting Amber Again" by S. P. Miskowski
"Sisters" by Brian Evenson
"All Through the Night" by Elise Forier Edie
"A Kingdom of Sugar Skulls and Marigolds" by Eric J. Guignard
"The Turn" by Paul Kane
"Jack" by Pat Cadigan
"Lost in the Dark" by John Langan
"The First Lunar Halloween" by John R. Little

There are sixteen horror tales in this anthology, all set on either Halloween, Devil’s Night, All Soul’s Day, and Dia de los Muertos. My favorites of this mixed trick-or-treat bag of stories are “Dirtmouth,” “With Graveyard Weeds and Wolfbane,” “A Taste of the Old Country,” “Nos Galen Gaeaf,” and “The First Lunar Halloween.”

"Dirthmouth" by Stephen Graham Jones, is my favorite of the five. The story is told in first person by a widowed father. On Halloween he takes his twin toddlers to stay at his in-laws’ cabin, not far from where his wife, Marion, had died while mountain climbing not long after the birth of her children. His dead wife has come back to meet him at the cabin. He realizes she didn't come for him, but for her children. It is this story he tells, trying to convince the police of the disappearance of his kids.

In “With Graveyard Weeds and Wolfbane,” there is a deserted house in town that always looks well attended for such a place. A group of kids decide to vandalize it instead of trick-or-treating. But they find that maybe the parents in the town know more about why the house has never been torn down when they run into a spirit who still lives there and plays tricks on ‘bad’ children.

“A Taste of the Old Country” is set sometime after World War II, in Argentina. Two former Nazis are hiding, pretending to be Argentinians. They meet baker who says he is from Austria. He invites them to his place for feasting, as it is the second day of Seelenwoche—All Souls Week in Austria. But they find gypsy dead are hungry for revenge.

“Nos Galen Gaeaf” is about a boy, Lance, who thinks the girl he likes, Seanna Walsh, has bewitched him. He decides to rid himself of her by removing her stone from the bonfire on Nos Galan Gaeaf (Spirit Night), which happens on November 1st. The legend goes, that if by the next morning, those who left a rock still find it there, they are safe for another year. Except this year, Lance finds the Welsh story about the black sow hunting the last child is not a fairytale in Cainsville.

“The First Lunar Halloween” is set in the future on the moon, long after aliens had destroyed the Earth. There is not much on Halloween, so a teacher wants to class to learn about how Halloween was done on Earth. She gets permission to take them from their city beneath the lunar surface onto the surface of the moon itself. She is assisted by another adult, for protection since there is a story going around that the aliens may still be hanging around the moon’s surface, waiting to see if anyone is hiding out there. The man disappears from their group while searching for one of her kids. The boy is found, but the man is not, just his empty spacesuit. She learns the true meaning of Halloween: fear. 

Haunted Nights is about the things we humans still fear beneath the costume of Halloween and its spooky cousins, trying to tame it with autumn fests and dressing our kids as super heroes and not monsters for trick-or-treat. So curl up and read this anthology, and be prepared to be haunted by your fears.

I give Haunted Nights 4 ½ Halloween sheep.

Pamela K. Kinney

About the Editors:
Ellen Datlow has been editing science fiction, fantasy, and horror short fiction for over thirty-five years. She currently acquires short fiction for In addition, she has edited more than fifty anthologies, including The Best Horror of the Year series, Fearful Symmetries, The Doll Collection, The Monstrous, and Black Feathers.

A multiple award-winner for her work, Datlow is a recipient of the Karl Edward Wagner Award, given at the British Fantasy Convention for "outstanding contribution to the genre," and has been honored with Life Achievement Awards by both the Horror Writers Association and the World Fantasy Convention. 

She lives in New York and co-hosts the monthly Fantastic Fiction Reading Series at KGB Bar.

Lisa Morton is a screenwriter, author of non-fiction books, Bram Stoker Award-winning prose writer, editor, and Halloween expert whose work was described by the American Library Association’s Readers’ Advisory Guide to Horror as “consistently dark, unsettling, and frightening.” As a Halloween expert, she has appeared on The History Channel and BBC Radio and in the pages of Real Simple Magazine and The Wall Street Journal, and she served as consultant on the first official U.S. Postal Halloween stamps. Her most recent releases include Ghosts: A Haunted History and Cemetery Dance Select: Lisa Morton. She lives in the San Fernando Valley.

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