Tag Archives: Halloween

A Review of Beyond Death – Tales of the Macabre

Beyond Death - Tales of the Macabre by Sophie Duncan and Natashan Duncan-Drake book cover. Image on cover is of silhouette of woman's face at dusk. She's standing in front of a house that has a few lights on in it's ground floor. But the second floor is dark. Title: Beyond Death – Tales of the Macabre

Author: Natasha Duncan-Drake & Sophie Duncan

Publisher: Wittegen Press (Self-Published)

Publication Date: 2019

Genres: Fantasy, Horror, Paranormal

Length: 27 pages

Source: I received a free copy from the authors.

Rating: 4 Stars

Blurb:

Two tales that look past death into the terror beyond.
The Cup Runneth Over by Natasha Duncan-Drake
You have been tempted into places unknown and there are things lurking in the shadows.
The Promise by Sophie Duncan
When a person makes a commitment, they should stick to it. Carol is determined to stick to hers no matter how scary it may become.

Review:

Content warning: Blood. I will not be discussing it in my review.

February is the perfect time to read something scary.

“The Cup Runneth Over” followed an unnamed narrator who was given a few odds and ends as a reward for helping their aunt pack up boxes in anticipation of a big move. One of the items they took home was an antique gold-inlaid book. The plot twists from this point forward made it hard for me stop reading. I was intensely curious to find out what the narrator had found and why it was so out of the ordinary.

It’s hard to discuss what happened next without spoiling anything. What I can say is that Ms. Duncan-Drake kept me guessing until the end. There were a couple of different times when I thought I had the next scene figured out only to be surprised by what actually happened. The author was certainly aware of the tropes in the genres she was writing in, but she used them sparingly in the very best sense of that term.

One thing I would have liked to see done differently in this tale had to do with the identity of the narrator. Not only was their name hidden from the reader, all other other identifying details like gender or race were skirted around as well. It would have been nice to know at least one or two of these facts about them. It was obviously impossible to imagine what they looked like in the absence of any details about their physical appearance whatsoever.

Carol made a promise while handing out treats at a Halloween party to the children of the community she’d recently moved to in “The Promise.” I thought it was quite interesting to see how the narrator juxtaposed the innocence of a children’s party with the darker hints about what was happening in this community. It was easy to leap from logical explanations for all of these weird coincidences to theories that required a strong belief in things that science can’t explain.

While I did come up with a fairly accurate guess about where this story was going, I still had a wonderful time following Carol’s adventures as she chaperoned the children. She was genuinely concerned about making a good impression on her new neighbours and helping the little ones have a spooky – but not too scary – Halloween. I liked her quite a bit and didn’t want it to end.

This was a short but satisfying collection that horror aficionados should try for themselves.

My Trick or Treat Goodies for Halloween

 

Banner for Trick-or-Treat Book Blog Hop banner. It features a bat and a full moon.

Today is the Trick-or-Treat Reads Halloween Book Event! This event was created by Patricia Lynne and is designed to give readers free books on Halloween. Click here to see what the rest of the participants will be giving away this year. There are a lot of goodies on that list!

I’m giving away copies of two of my books.

Tumble is a short story about a girl named Elle who is being raised in the middle of nowhere by an over-protective single parent. Now that she’s turned eighteen, she’s ready to start making her own decisions in life. But her father only grows more protective of her the further she pulls away from him. What secrets might he be hiding?

Waiting for Earl to Die and Other Stories is an anthology of short science fiction and horror stories. Every character in this collection has a story hidden deeply inside themselves, but not everyone realizes exactly what that story might be.

Both of these books are free on Kobo. Enjoy!

 

Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge: Things That Scare Me

Hosted by Long and Short Reviews.

What an open-ended prompt this week!  Was it supposed to be used for for lighthearted, Halloween-friendly fears or more serious topics? I’m assuming it’s the former, but I’ll include one darker fear in case that is what Long and Short Reviews was actually hoping we’d do.

Only time will tell if everyone else interpreted it the same way. Here are some of the things that make me shudder.

Looking in the Mirror in a Dark Room

I blame the Bloody Mary game and all of the spooky ghost stories I’ve read for this one. During the day, I’m a logical person who knows there’s nothing inside of a mirror that could ever hurt me. This is much less true in the middle of the night when I stumble into the washroom half-asleep and can only see the dimmest reflection of what is in the mirror.

Antique doll wearing a bonnet and dress.

Antique Dolls

I chose the least creepy photo of an antique doll I could find online. The ones that have chipped or broken faces frighten me even more, especially if their eyes look lifelike.

Unexplained Noises, Especially at Night

Yes, many buildings will sometimes creak or make other little noises at night. Knowing the scientific explanation for why this happens doesn’t make it less eerie when it happens at midnight and you’re supposed to be alone in your house.

Absolute Silence

For example, I suffer from insomnia if I try to fall asleep in a perfectly silent room. I need the sound of a fan blowing or, even better, someone breathing gently next to me in order to sleep well.

Perfectly silent outdoor places are scary, too. If I don’t hear bugs buzzing, birds chirping, or some other friendly little noise in a forest, I get too creeped out to stay. It just doesn’t feel right to me at all. As an aside, has anyone else noticed fewer bugs in the summer these days? I could have sworn there were more of them flying and crawling around even a few years ago.

Foggy Days

I love sitting inside my warm, dry apartment and looking at the fog roll in. I do not like going out into the fog, especially in the morning or evening when there isn’t much light out there. There’s something a little scary about not being able to see as far into the distance as you normally can.

The clammy feeling in the air on foggy days is also unnerving to me. It almost feel like being touch by someone’s else wet hands without being able to see who that person is. Scary!

Phone Calls

This last one might need a little explaining. Texting and email are how I’ve kept in touch with my loved ones for many years now. Phone calls are reserved for horrible, urgent news like someone dying or being sent to the hospital with a life-threatening illness. This makes me nervous when my phone does ring and there’s anyone other than my dentist or family doctor on call display because I know that chances are high I’m about to hear heartbreaking news.

Do phone calls mean the same thing to you? How many fears do we share in common?

Click here to read everyone else’s replies to this week’s question. The image below is the list of upcoming prompts for this blog hop.

Top Ten Tuesday: Free Horror Stories

Hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl

Happy (almost) Halloween to everyone in the Top Ten Tuesday community!

This is my favourite holiday of the year by far, so the end of October always has a few posts on this topic on my site.

If you feel the same way about this season, here are some free horror stories you can read online to get into the spirit of Halloween.

1. The Bongcheon-Dong Ghost” by Studio Horang

This is a comic strip about a ghost looking for her baby.

2. Candle Cove” by Kris Straub

Everyone has a favourite childhood show, but not all of them are as unique as Candle Cove.

3. The Bog Girl” by Karen Russell

Is anyone else in the TTT community fascinated with bog bodies? I read as many non-fiction articles and books about them as I can find, but fictionalized accounts of them are interesting, too.

4. “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” by Joyce Carol Oates

There are some disturbing themes in this tale, so click carefully if you hate violence (implied or actual). But I loved the character development in it, especially once the protagonist realizes just how few choices she’s been left with.

Potion in the foreground. Skull and lit candle sitting on a book in the background. 5. “Redcap” by Carrie Vaughn.

If you like dark fairy tales, definitely give this one a try.

6. Hello Moto” by Nnedi Okoafor 

Anything in life can be turned into something frightening if it’s described in the right way. In this case, it’s wigs!

7. “Shiva, Open Your Eye” by Laird Barron

The writing in this short story was simply beautiful. I also enjoyed who the author chose to be the protagonist. Let’s just say it might not be who you’re expecting.

8. Glashaus” by Madeline Gobbo and Miles Klee

There’s nothing scarier than an old-fashioned haunted house.

9. A Guilty Conscience” by Nicholas Gordon 

If you get scared easily, this is the best thing on my list to read. It’s much less intense than everything else I recommended.

10. eyes i dare not meet in dreams” by Sunny Moraine

Finally, this tale should only be read by people who don’t get scared easily. And, yes, the title was not capitalized on purpose. That’s how it’s supposed to be written.

 

My Best Halloween Memories

Jack-o-lantern with a light burning inside of it is sitting next to a wooden calendar that says October 31Occasionally, I wander away from the usual topics on this site to share personal stories from my life. Today is one of those days.

For about the first decade of my life, my family attended harvest festivals at local churches at the end of October and observed half-price candy day on November 1. (This a very special day that I highly recommend to people from any background who enjoy sugar and keeping their family dentist in business!)

Harvest Festivals

Harvest festivals happened indoors because our town was surrounded by mountains and that time of year could get fairly cold and snowy. These festivals included costumes, music, games like bobbing for apples, and copious amounts of sugar and chocolate. My young mind was never entirely sure how they were that much different from regular Halloween, but any excuse for sweets was music to my ear.

Hay, sheaves, and pumpkins artfully arranged to celebrate the harvest. The pumpkins are sitting next to the sheave and on top of the hay bale. When I was about seven, my family was surprised by Halloween. A few neighbourhood kids knocked on our door to say trick-or-treat one night. We had nothing sweet to give them at first until my dad remembered his small stash of strawberry bon-bons, a hard candy that has a red liquid centre in them.

A year or two later, we had a family friend who understood was the important of choosing the right sweets no matter what name you give to that sugary day at the end of October. I’m sure she had many other admirable personality traits, but almost everything I remember about her is somehow related to the delicious things she kept in her house.

I have a vague memory of visiting her house and getting a little more candy that was definitely only intended for Harvest Festival purposes. It skated just close enough to that other holiday that I felt like I’d gotten away with something. (My parents were in the room and approved of this gift, however).

Secular Halloween

Round tin can filled with halloween candy. My family started celebrating secular Halloween when I was eleven. By that time, we’d moved into a neighbourhood that was known for its generosity, so the streets were packed with families from other areas as well as from our own.

Trick-or-Treating on those nights was exciting. I wanted to run as fast as I could to every house to make sure I didn’t miss a single one.

We lived in Ohio then. Halloween night could be chilly, but it generally didn’t dip below freezing or include snowstorms. Wearing a jacket over your costume was usually sufficient, although I also tried to pick costumes that covered my whole body up. As in, picking something that required a skirt was not the smartest idea unless you had warm tights on underneath it!

Once I reluctantly realized I was too old to trick-or-treat, I reverted to celebrating half-price candy day once again.

Halloween as an Adult

Most of the places I lived in the United States were in rural locations or small towns. While Canada and the U.S. share a lot in common, moving to Toronto did include some surprises along the way.

I was looking forward to switching from receiving candy to giving it out, but it turns out that the apartment buildings here don’t have trick-or-treaters from what I’ve observed.

Luckily, there is always half-price candy day.

What are your favourite Halloween memories?

 

5 Funny Short Horror Films You Should Watch This Halloween

One of the things I love the most about Halloween is seeing all of the creative things storytellers do with common horror, science fiction, and fantasy tropes at this time of the year. There’s something about the Halloween season that seems to bring out the best in writers, filmmakers, and other creators. The films in… Read More

Suggestion Saturday: October 27, 2018

Happy Halloween! Here is this week’s gigantic list of blog posts, comic strips, stories, and other links from the scariest corners of the web. I’ve labelled the links that include gory content. If you have other questions about what a specific link contains, feel free to ask. Imagine the Sound of This, but in the Night.… Read More

Is This How Ghost Stories Begin?

Everything I am about to tell you is completely true. Some of the older residents of my apartment building like to tell stories about the people who have died here. One person was young and died suddenly for reasons that I’ve never been able to tease out. There is a hush that comes over the conversation when… Read More