As with volumes one and two, Halloween Carnival Volume 3 collects five short stories centered around, as the title would imply, Halloween. Here's what's what:
THE WAY LOST by Kelley Armstrong
Kelly Armstrong kicks this anthology off on a strong note. Every Halloween, a child in Franklin goes missing. I've only read a few short stories by Armstrong, all of which I've enjoyed immensely, and she does a great job setting a particular mood here, and ends the story on a high note - and a very creepy one at that!
LA CALAVERA by Kate Maruyama
DNF. Got about halfway through it and found myself severely bored by what felt more like a romance story than Halloween horror. No scares, no tension, no point. Moving on...
THE DEVIL'S DUE by Michael McBride
I'm not going to lie - one of the reasons I was interested in this series of Halloween Carnival books was because of McBride's involvement in this volume (Kealan Patrick Burke, Norman Prentiss, and Richard Chizmar were some more great reasons to invest some time in this series). I've become a big fan of McBride's work in short order over the last couple years, and this story reminded me a little bit of his Snowblind novellas (always good). Here, McBride delivers a fantastic tale of a small town that, every Halloween, offers up one its children in sacrifice. There's lots of chills and suspense in this one!
A THOUSAND ROOMS OF DARKNESS by Taylor Grant
This story might have the catchiest title in this anthology. Thankfully, the story isn’t half-bad either. Grant sends up some pretty wild swerves in the finale, and it took me a bit to reorient myself to sudden changes. Overall, it was pretty solidly done and kept me hooked throughout.
THE LAST NIGHT OF OCTOBER by Greg Chapman
Every Halloween, there's a knock on Gerald's door from a Trick or Treater unlike any of the other neighborhood kids. Now wheelchair bound and infirm, Gerald tries to shoo away his nurse before sunset, but the two quickly find themselves entrenched and in a struggle for survival. Chapman dishes out a really effective ghost story and I dug the heck out of this one! Good stuff all around.
Halloween Carnival Volume 3 was probably the most consistent and on-point in terms of quality from this series thus far. I found myself enjoying the stories quite a lot more than in Volume 2, and the anthology keeps a pretty high standard of stories and talent for the majority of its page-count.
Now on to Volume 4!
[Note: I received an advanced copy of this title from the publisher via NetGalley.]
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