Sometimes an anthology has that lure, that pull, that innate ability to sink hooks beneath your flesh without you realizing it. While there are plenty of good horror anthologies out there, it takes a lot for one to grab hold of me like SHADOWS OVER MAIN STREET (VOLUME 2). It can seriously take me all year to make my way through an entire anthology, especially ones with a specific theme. I get to the point that I no longer care about the theme and give up, even if I admire the authors. So I was pleasantly surprised by this one. I'm a sucker for small-town tales. I'm growing an appreciation for the Lovecraftian realm in which these stories breathe and move, slithering tentacles across the brain, and welcoming you home with that gentle song from another world.
These are the ones that stood out for me:
"Shug"by John Taff - This one felt like a mix of Bradbury 's The Martian Chronicles and Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land. I wasn't sure I liked it a few pages in, but it ended up being my favorite. Just a really well-told story that made its home beneath my skin.
"Something in the Water" by Douglas Wynn - This is the story that made me grab this anthology. I read a bit of Wynn's behind-the-story post via Twitter and knew I had to read it. Watch your tongue when you come to Wynn's little town. Loved it.
"Disintegration is Quite Painless" by Max Booth III - I've read a lot of Max's larger works. For the most part, they haven't been my cup of tea. They've been a bit too weird for my taste, but very well-written, and Booth's talent has never been in question. I knew it was only a matter of time when he wrote something that would blow me away. This one is a traditional/straight-forward horror tale. If you love Stranger Things, you're gonna enjoy the hell out of this one. The beginning was amazing, and even though the story went in a bunch of different directions, I loved each and every one. I can't wait to get this version of MB3 in novel form.
"1570 KhZ" by Damien Walters - No surprise that the Queen of Short Stories delivers another gem. This one features a young girl that wants to help her father. He sits in a garage listening to a strange frequency that is shifting his moods. This one is great.
"Sunset on Mott Island" by Lucy Snyder - the opening story, Snyder's piece subtly lures you in on the waves, while bringing on the impending doom. Charmingly cryptic to the end.
"Duck Hunt" by Joe Lansdale - A few of these have a rites-of-passage theme to them. I just enjoyed Lansdale's take the best. Thought I knew where it was going, but I was wrong. Fantastic.
There were really only two or three stories I didn't care for in here, but even those were well-written. This is a very impressive collection for fans of Lovecraft and/or small-town horror.
Even with the couple of so-so stories, I give SHADOWS OVER MAIN STREET (VOLUME 2) 5 stars!