Childhood Fears by Various
Samhain Publishing (October 2015)
306 pages, e-book $9.99, paperback $16.99
Reviewed by Frank Michaels Errington
In May of 2015 Samhain Publishing released four new novellas exploring things that go bump in the night, the things that scared us as kids, and in many cases still frighten us as adults. Now, those four stories are available in a single volume called Childhood Fears.
Nightmare in Greasepaint, by L.L. Soares and G. Daniel Gunn. L.L. Soares is the Bram Stoker Award-winning author of the novel Life Rage. G. Daniel Gunn is the author of the novel Destroyer of Worlds and the pseudonym for Daniel G. Keohane, a Bram Stoker-nominated author in his own right. Nightmare in Greasepaint does not disappoint. The start of the story is more psychological horror, with a house bringing back memories of what happened to the protagonist as a child and what he’d done, but as the story develops the tension builds, much like the climb to the top of a super-coaster, and then reaches incredible speeds as you plummet back to earth. A quick and satisfying read.
The Bear Who Wouldn’t Leave, by J.H. Moncrieff. J.H. Moncrieff has been a professional writer all of her adult life, with a number of those years spent as a journalist tracking down snipers and canoeing through crocodile-infested waters. The Bear Who Wouldn’t Leave preys on our childhood fears and manages to juggle three possible scenarios in a way that kept me guessing to the very end. Is it really Edgar, the teddy bear, doing all these bad things? Is it Josh’s step-father making it look like Edgar? Or is there something wrong with Josh himself? Although the idea of an evil teddy is not terribly new, and at times you could easily predict what might come next, the result still hits you in the face like a ton of bricks.
Scarecrows, by Christine Hayton. Her introduction to the works of Edgar Allen Poe at age twelve hooked Christine Hayton on the horror genre and her attraction to the macabre continues to this day. Scarecrows was yet another enjoyable story in this quartet of novellas.
“Cathy isn’t in her bed and I can’t find her anywhere.”
As a parent I find those words alone to be fear inducing. Although the story moves back and forth over a period of years in the late ’60s, each chapter heading came with a note to let the reader know where they were in that scene. Scarecrows offers a solid twist and proves that truth is stranger than fiction.
Winterwood by JG Faherty. JG is a Bram Stoker Award and ITW Thriller Award finalist. He’s the author of five novels, seven novellas, and more than 50 short stories. Winterwood unleashes the monsters: Krampus the Holly King, the Wild Hunt, and Gryla, the Holly King’s wicked bride, the mother of the Yule Lads and the evil sister of Mother Earth.
Overall, Childhood Fears is a solid read and accomplishes its goal in examining the things that scared us in our childhood and beyond.