THE THIRD CORONA BOOK OF HORROR STORIES
Edited by Lewis Williams
October 1, 2019
Reviewed by Brian James Lewis
Once again, Corona Books rises above their previous excellent collections to give readers an even better Third Corona Book Of Horror Stories! How do they do it? Well, I think the person best qualified to give you that answer is editor Lewis Williams, but I hope that he’ll like the paraphrased version I offer: The 19 stories inside this volume were selected from 824 submissions by authors just like you and me. No big names here, BUT I dare anyone to read any of the Corona Books Of Horror Stories and not come away wanting more! Besides that, is the effort that Lewis and his team have put into making their books the best possible experience for both readers and authors. Not only do you get great stories, but you also get author bios, websites, and Twitter handles, so you can follow those that really gave you a fright! I could go on and on about how great Corona Books are…I mean, there’s also The Corona Book Of Science Fiction, The Corona Book Of Ghost Stories, and those limericks…But right now, let’s peek in on some of those 19 stories! It’s okay to be afraid…
Does anyone here love doing dishes? If so, please report to my residence, pronto! Otherwise, let’s take a look at the story that kicks off this collection, Suds And Monsterss by the talented Christopher Stanley. Gavin is forced to do a mountainous pile of dishes by his nasty troll of a stepmother who delights in making life miserable for everyone. Yuck! While her actions could be a horror story in themselves, Stanley’s creativity gives us something much larger to fear. Or, wait, maybe cheer about? Dig in, fellow horror lovers, you won’t believe what’s writhing below those soapsuds. But be careful. it’s HUNGRY!
For many people, especially in the country I live in, bigger is better. We eat “Big Macs” from a fast food joint that claims to have served the most people. For years Americans drove cars that were huge, gas guzzling, tanks. Big cities such as New York, Nashville, and possibly the most ridiculously flashy place on Earth, Las Vegas, are dream destinations for many. These days, many folks are seeing the value in small. Smart cars, tiny houses, and flash fiction are all good examples of that. Editor Lewis Williams’ Cancer The Crab is 500 words long. And yet, in that small amount of words, he’s able to show us karma. Humans can be cruel and appear to get away with it, but do they really? Good piece! Extra words unnecessary.
Of course, if you want to see revenge in a much more graphic and as the author himself puts it, “testicle shriveling” way, then you’ll want to read The Debtt by John Haas. When Gary takes the rap for his former friend who killed a young boy while driving drunk, he suffers the hell of going to prison. However, a deal had been made, and once he’s released back into the free world Gary looks forward to enjoying life. He’s “paid his debt to society” just like the judge said, right? But it turns out that his true payments are just beginning. Gary might’ve thought that prison was hell, but that’s all about to change when he wakes up after another big drunk. Not only is he strapped to a table in an operating room, the surgeon is someone Gary recognizes. It’s the dead boy’s father.
Do you like to spend time in antique shops? Perhaps you enjoy the challenge of going to jumble sales and finding unique items that turn out to be worth a mint? In Sue Eaton’s The First Circle, Meg and her husband are wandering about such a place, when he finds something that delights him. It’s a walnut that’s been turned into a tiny work of art. Meg is repulsed by all the tiny faces carved into the nasty little item, but her husband wants her to buy it for his birthday. The idea of having to see it daily doesn’t attract her, but Meg’s husband is hard to buy gifts for. So she pays the rather high price and off to lunch they go, problem solved! If only that were true. Turns out it’s just the beginning of a long journey for Meg. Even though her husband agrees to put the nut with a thousand faces in a high spot where she can’t see it, the evil thing keeps finding her. Every time she touches it, the “kernel from hell” bites her. Soon Meg finds herself changing for the worse until her husband rushes her to the hospital. Will the doctors be able to save her, or is she lost forever?
Okay, now it’s time for me to reveal the story in this collection that blew me out of the water. It’s Lily’s Kids by Florence Ann Marlowe! This is the one that made me go “holy shit!” and lose my appetite for a few days after reading it. At first, the reader is taken on what seems a relatively normal after church stroll. Just a brother and his little sister checking out a rarely visited area of town in hopes of seeing something out of the ordinary. Jimmy’s at that age where boys want to impress other boys, so he desires a unique find. Well, it’s BINGO time, bitches! Maybe it’s not a smashed flat snake, but what Jimmy and his sister Katie find is sure different. There’s a trio of freaky kids living in an old barn and there doesn’t seem to be a healthy parent available to take care of them properly. While Jimmy quickly realizes that things are seriously out of order, Katie is too young to understand. She thinks it’s all a game and makes promises to the ghostly children that she can’t possibly deliver on. Or can she? Boy, Girl, and Lady hope so. Jimmy is confused, then terrified, when his sister suddenly disappears. He thinks he knows where he can find her, but will he be too late to bring her home? Excellent story!
By now, you probably have a pretty good idea of how I feel about The Third Corona Book Of Horror Stories. But just to be sure, let me lay down the numbers. FIVE BIG STARS! Highly recommended to everyone! This is a short horror fiction treasure trove with special bonus content of author bios and contact info. But Corona Books doesn’t just stop there! They also present an honor roll of really cool authors that almost made it into this volume. Many of them are in Books one and two, which I highly encourage you to check out! Overall, The Third Corona Book Of Horror Stories, is a great read that will chill your bones. Want more information about this great independent press? Then go to: www.coronabooks.com and www.lewiswilliams.com Thanks for reading Damaged Skull Writer. See you soon!