Tales from Vallyeview Cemetery by John Brhel and Joseph Sullivan
Cemetery Gates Media (November 2015)
158 pages; $10.00 paperback; $2.99 e-book
Reviewed by Meredith Durfy
“Angel Music”— The first story in the anthology is about a woman who walks into a graveyard after hearing music coming from there, and then bad things happen to her. I found it painful to read at times. I felt it was poorly written and not scary. I didn’t identify with the main character, I didn’t feel I knew her. All I know about the main character is that her name is Brenda and she is not from Lestershire (the town) originally. It seemed as though the author was more interested in describing everything in detail than setting up the main character. The monster was a problem as well, as creepy children are just cliché at this point.
“Married, Buried”— An interesting take on a classic story, an affair which ends in murder. It was fairly well written and kept me reading. I did not anticipate the ending. I would recommend this story to anyone looking for a classic horror story with a twist.
“Other Voices, Other Tombs”—I really enjoyed reading this story. It has to do with a man living in his childhood home with his baby daughter, when he hears voices over the baby monitor. I really liked the ambience and the themes of revenge. The only thing I disliked about this story was the ending, which was somewhat anticlimactic. I would recommend this to anyone looking for a horror story involving family history and revenge.
“The Caretaker”—I somewhat enjoyed reading this story. It was well written but I wouldn’t really call it horror. It seems more like a contemporary coming-of-age story. It was really predictable in places. I would recommend this story anyone looking for a contemporary tale with a bit of magical realism.
“A Matter of Course”—I only enjoyed reading this story because I was able to read it quickly. It was incredibly predictable and cliche. The main character was unlikable (possibly intentionally).
“All Hallows Eve”—I enjoyed reading this story very much. It’s about a middle-aged married couple trying to repair their marriage at a Halloween fair. The writing was very strong and creepy, and the characters felt like real people. Aside from an unnecessary sex scene I really loved it. I would recommend this story looking for creepy Halloween ambience.
“Knocking Back”—I liked this story. It’s about a group of teenagers investigating an urban myth. The ending was harrowing and scary but if you think about it too much it gets less scary. It’s a bit predictable in places but overall I would recommend it to someone interested in urban legends.
“Out to Lunch”—I did not enjoy reading this one. It was not well written and if it was supposed to disgust me, it didn’t. It felt cliché and overdone. I didn’t identify with the main character.
“Scary the Crow”—I didn’t enjoy reading this story. I feel it had a lot of potential but it felt rushed. I didn’t feel I knew the characters and it was over before I knew it. If more time were spent on this story it could be improved.
“Vermin”—I somewhat enjoyed “Vermin.” It was largely a homage to Pet Semetery. The writing was good but the characters were a bit weak. I recommend this story if you are looking for a quick and entertaining read.
“Dead Can Dance”—I really enjoyed this story. It was a classic ’80s teen comedy with ghosts. I really appreciated the main character. It was entertaining in all senses. The ending was a surprise and immensely satisfying. My only complaint is it’s a bit generic and it used ’80s nostalgia a little too much for my taste. Otherwise, it was very good and I would recommend it to anyone.
“Easy Prey”—I didn’t hate this story. The premise was interesting and it had a good twist. But in my opinion they took too long to get to the point. Otherwise it was very suspenseful and I would recommend it .
“Randall’s Complex”—I really enjoyed this story. It involves a mentally ill man and his paranoia… except something is actually after him. I really enjoyed the writing and the twist ending, as well as the creeping sense of paranoia. Overall, I would recommend this story.
“Moira’s Homecoming”—This story was somewhat creepy but entirely predictable. It was lacking in originality. Also, I didn’t have enough time to get to know the characters.
“One foot in the Grave”—I liked this story. It subverted tropes and had an interesting twist. You think you know what’s happening and then you don’t. I love when stories do that. I can’t think of any flaws. Overall would recommend.
“After the Game”—I didn’t really enjoy this story. It went too fast and I don’t really like zombies.
“Pact and Principle”—I kind of understood what they were going for here but it didn’t work. They were trying for an epic which connected all the stories. The writing was just too weak. I did end up liking some of the characters though. Overall would recommend.