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WesternSFA
Chilling Tales Two: In Words, Alas, Drown I
Edited by Michael Kelly
Edge Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing, $14.95, 221pp
Release Date: September 30, 2013
Contributing Authors:  David Nickle, Derek Kunsken, Lisa L. Hannett, Kevin Cockle, Camille, Alexa, Ian Rogers, Colleen Sanderson, Helen Marshall, Robert J. Wiersema, Claude Lalumiere, Edo Van Belkom, Douglas Smith, Simon Strantzas, Sandra Kasturi, Michael Matheson, Rio Youers, Gemma Files, Bev Vincent, Catherine MacLeod, Daniel Lemoal, Halli Villegas

As Michael Kelly tells us in his preface:  This isn’t your standard horror anthology.   This book breaths fresh life into new monsters; fears such as bigotry, religious intolerance, racism, xenophobia, jealousy, secrets, despair, madness, and revenge.   

This is the second volume of Chilling Tales, the all-Canadian horror anthology.  I found the title, a clever palindrome, to be just as original as the tales between the covers.  Although every one of these tales is shocking and unexpected, I’ve started this list with my five favorites:    

Crossroads Blues:  A fascinating fable about selling your soul to the devil -- with a not-so-surprising ending.  This was my favorite story of the book.

The Salamander’s Waltz:  The longest of these stories and my favorite!  Maya, a talented painter from a small coastal town, and her husband are on the last business trip they will take together.  He doesn’t know she knows he is cheating on her.  They are at the end of their marriage and almost at the end of their trip when the car breaks down.  They’re forced to stay in a town he hates… a town with the same pagan beliefs as the one in which Maya grew up.  In the end, he gets the marriage ended… and what’s coming to him!

The Flowers of Katrina:  No man is good enough for her.  She can see into their pasts, the bad decisions they have made; and is haunted by the potential of who they could have been.  When she finally finds the perfect man, one who also sees, she begins to see things differently and takes drastic measures to make sure their love won’t falter. 

Heart of Darkness:  If you needed a heart transplant, how far would you go to get a new heart?  This horror story, reminiscent of The Monkey’s Paw, warns us of the consequences of interfering with fate.

Honesty:  Jeff’s late getting home.  His wife is angry.  He missed his exit.  His GPS is recalculating… and recalculating… and recalculating, sending him out onto deserted dirt roads.   There, on the side of the road is an unmanned flower stand – flowers for his wife will help when he finally gets home.  So he takes a bouquet and doesn’t pay for it.  In the end, he does pay...  in blood.

Black Hen a la Ford:  Five generations of family headed by two sisters who practice magic to ensure that their secret wishes and those of their children come true. 

The Dog’s Paw:  A foreign embassy ambassador and his aide in Yemen commit “honor killings” of teenaged girls who bring shame upon their families.  Their indiscretions were made known when family members wake up with a bizarre mutation that is impossible to hide or ignore.

Snowglobes:  Jimmy and Janie get married.  Jimmy doesn’t want children.  This is the unexpectedly chilling story of their children.

Meteor Lake :  Jim is a man with brain tumors who hasn’t slept in 4 years.  He’s weak and tired.  His mind can’t focus; he can’t work.  Now collecting disability, he drives to pass the time.  For a man who can’t sleep, this last trip is a nightmare.

In Libitina’s House:  A teenage boy’s obsession with the neighbor girl -- until he is invited into her house.  The little voice in my head kept screaming, “Get out!”

Day Pass :  A woman gets her first unsupervised trip from the asylum. 

Gingerbread People:  A modern-day version of Hansel and Gretel with a macabre twist.

The Slipway Gray:  Grandfather tells a story of using self-hypnosis - visualizing water to help get through college.  The trick is to get out of the water before the giant gray shark comes for him!

Fiddleheads:  Twelve-year-old Andy searches his little brother, gone missing two years ago.  He has a plan, a deeply disturbing plan.

Dwelling on the Past:  Harvey is haunted by a decision he made long ago regarding his daughter.  Right now he is trying to find answers for his company.  Why do the Six Nations of the Grand River tribe suddenly want their land back from Henco Industries?    Harvey may find out more than he wants to know.

The Hair Dress:  Have you ever felt like you would never be warm again?  This thoughtful gift will take care of that – whether or not you want it to.

Weary, Bone Deep:  A missing boy – carried away by the Thing in the basement; His brother is waiting for it to come back out.  When it comes for him, he finds out it is, perhaps, the most frightening thing in any small boy’s life!

Homebody:  A homeless college student finds an empty house to sleep in.  The house is beautiful and comfortable and reminds her of her Gran’s home.   The house is lonely.  Will it let her leave?

Road Rage:  Walter is a perfect driver; everyone else is an inconsiderate moron behind the wheel.  When one of those other drivers does something stupid, Walter becomes a cussing, tail-gating and horn-blowing jerk.  In this tale, Walter learns that road rage is never a good idea.

Goldmine:  A hoarder whose collections become out of control.  Don’t go in there!

Fishfly Season:  Gave me chills.  I’ve seen these sickly pale, giant bugs covering a town.  This story is what nightmares are made of. ~~ Marie Davis

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