"Enjoyable blend of horror & comedy"
A lot of horror likes to call itself "not for the faint hearted" but this really isn't, and the easily squeamish may want to give it a miss as well. A lot of it was also conciously written to be funny rather than serious horror, so if that sort of thing annoys you, again maybe pass. The humour is generally pretty crude, mostly too crude for me to find amusing, but that's just me, and I think the level of humour fits the stories well.
The stories themselves are by & large pretty good. They tend to deliver shocks rather than scares - I don't think I was ever scared, but was shocked constantly. For me it's the difference between something like The Grudge and a slasher flick like Friday the 13th - the gore in the latter is shocking, the more psychological nature of the former is scary, and the stories here all fall very squarely in the shocker category. They are all very original, very rarely predictable, which I prize highly in horror fiction. A lot of cannibalism though.
The narration - generally it's good solid stuff, with well defined character voices etc., but I find it hard to forgive the cockney accent in "The Screaming", which is a bit of a diction nightmare in any case - Konrath claims to have made a great effort to match the langauge for the setting, i.e. 1960s England, but I found it pretty horrendous. Don't get discouraged and stop listenening though, the rest is much better.
All in all, if you like your horror stories to be gory, brutal and nasty, you should enjoy these. If you like something less visceral, I really wouldn't risk it. If you do end up liking these, I'd recommend Haunted by Chuck Palanuik, which is as nasty but a good deal more intelligent, or The Collection, by Bentley Little.
"Interesting horror fiction, very well dramatised"
The Dreadtime Stories collections are the home of some brilliantly enjoyable horror fiction, imaginative and interesting and excellently written and performed. Some of it I saw coming, some of it genuinely surprised me, but I enjoyed all of it - "Wolf" was particularly clever in the way it leads you by the nose into your own conclusions, and then effortlessly trumps them. This is a must have for fans of horror stories or dramatized horror stories.
If you enjoy this, Volume 2 is just as good, and you might want to check out Tales from Beyond the Pale, also on audible.
I've seen a lot of stories by Drac Von Stoller popping up on audible lately, so when a collection of more than about 8 or so came along, I ventured a credit to see what was what. I listened - grimly - to the entire collection, though I could tell in the first five minutes or so that I was going to hate it, but I wanted to give it a fair try before passing judgement. It really wasn't worth the effort. The stories might be kindly described as the kind of thing a primary school student might be proud of writing in the year or so leading up to secondary school. Perhaps that's who it's aimed at.
It's not that Von Stoller's ideas aren't imaginative, they're just poorly, or maybe just too simply, executed. Take an example: the main character of one of the stories is wandering up to the locked room at the top of a lighthouse of a mansion he's just inherited or bought (I forget which) - "Suddenly from behind door emerged Dr Death!". Those aren't the exact words, but that's how basic the style is. Dr Death hasn't featured at all in the story up until then, and there follows a long expositional section about who he is, etc. It's the kind of thing that'd be handled by rumours or maybe a chance-discovered journal or newspaper cuttings in almost any other horror story I can think of, just laid out in such a way that I'm thinking "and why does that matter?" all the way through. Dialogue feels clumsy and false, and is sometimes forced in as exposition to the plot. Maybe he's going for a children's fable feel, in the Bluebeard vein, but if so, the style lacks the sort of charm it would need to become appealing.
Drac Von Stoller also appears in person a few times - it's both crude & self-aggrandising, and I find it a bit sickening, maybe that's just me.
Summing up then - I really didn't like it. I kept wondering how it got published, that was how much I disliked it. Maybe it's aimed at a younger audience and I didn't notice, but even so, poor.
"More a supernatural romance than a ghost story"
I read the blurb on this download, and gave it a try with the expectation of something more sinister, a wartime ghost story along the same lines as some of Susan Hill's work, or MR James maybe. Unfortunately for me, this is more of a romance novel with a ghost in it, and not really my thing.
However, if you like romance with a historical or supernatural element, this may be for you.
"Genuinely unsettling, well written horror"
If you've listened to or read Bentley Little's The Collection (also on audible), you may well be wary of trying this book - even as a pretty hardcore fan of horror as a genre, I found stories in The Collection difficult to listen to (and often to stomach). Don't worry though - The Haunted is a much easier listen, and well worth the download.
It's a fairly standard haunted house story, but it's very well written and honestly compelling. From the comfortable, engaging trials and troubles of an american middle class family, the narrative turns in a heartbeat to something much more disturbing and other worldly. You find yourself waiting for the next thing to happen, but you're often genuinely surprised when it does. Unlike The Collection, which was very much about short, massive shocks, this is much more subtle. I've been very disappointed with horror releases on audible lately, but this book is a very welcome change from the general trend and well worth a credit.
"A good read, well read."
Sarah Langan is very good at creating believable characters, which makes her novels all the more real and disturbing. She sites her influences on the usual horror suspects (Steven King, Shirley Jackson etc) and I think she does them proud, so give it a try if your taste runs that way. Jennifer Wiltsie, who also reads Langan's other book, Audrey's Door, gives an excellent reading, alternating between comedy and eerie horror expertly, and it really adds to the charm and fear of the book. I highly recommend this book.
"Itchy (in a good way)"
I like this book a lot. The author does an excellent job of painting a comfortable picture of normality, slowly introducing the peculiar and unpleasant until sudden all that is left is abnormality and insanity. It's a classic horror device, and executed here very subtley and effectively. The bugs in particular are a good theme - very few people will not have a reaction of some kind to bugs, from mild disgust to full blown phobia, and, when I started scratching part way into the book, I wasn't really surprised and took it to mean I was enjoying it. The author managed to keep me guessing regarding the eventual outcome, which I appreciate. The reader does a great job as well. I'd definitely recommend it, unless you have a phobia of insects.
First off, I should make it clear that this is aimed more at teenage listeners than adults, as I wasn't clear on that when I downloaded it - although maybe I should have guessed it when R.L Stine's name came up. I love horror short stories though so I gave it a try. Also many of the stories are thrillers rather than horror, although if I'm honest there's also a fair bit of sci-fi and superhero-esque fantasy in there as well. From an adult point of view, there's precious little horror to be had here, and the quality of some of the stories is pretty low - I was particularly disappointed by Stine and Heather Graham's entries, which were neither particularly original or interesting, and frankly a bit self indulgent - unless Stine really does think that teenagers horsing around in a car park is horror or suspense? Hmm. Some of the other stories were OK, stuff that I can imagine a more junior audience than myself enjoying with maybe a small chill and a good degree of interest and perhaps even some thoughts to take away for consideration later, but for myself I found it tedious. Credit where credit is due though, the various narrators were by & large very good.
"Fear" really doesn't belong in the title of this audiobook, the scariest thing about it for me was the blurb on the cover. And that disappoints me because there are so many better horror shorts out there, both modern and classic.
"Still one of my favorite listens."
This was one of my first downloads from Audible, and even some years later it remains one of my favorites. It's one of Stephen King's earlier books I think, maybe the first one that dealt with a whole town of characters rather than just a few isolated ones. King really excels in this kind of book, he has a real gift for creating a small town, filling it with characters, and making each one as real and as detailed as the protaganist, often with much less space to do so. It's not perhaps very scary or overly bloody, but there's a real sense of mounting panic and struggling against overwhelming odds that makes the eventual payoff of the final confrontation even more satisfying. In so many ways it's a conscious retelling of Bram Stoker's Dracula, transplanted into a 1970s American small town, as King talks about in his introduction. I particulary like Ron McLarty's narration, which can go from warm and comfortable to solemn and chilling very effectively and quickly.
If you liked this, you may want to try some of Stephen King's other small community novels - Under the Dome is particularly good in this respect as it has a more detestible cast of villains than Salem's Lot.
"A clever, subtly scary read"
I'll come clean from the start - I had an extra credit and nothing I particularly wanted to spend it on this month. My first credit went on Joe Hill's excellent new book, Horns - the second went on The Waiting Room almost at random. I've been pretty disappointed by a lot of the new horror that's come out over the last year or so, but it's books like The Waiting Room that make me try to keep abreast of them as much as possible.
The concept of the book is hardly the most original - listening made me think of Stephen King's Pet Sematary, M.R. James, Lovecraft and the like, and the ghost hunter angle's also fairly popular now - but most horror is very derivative now, and the way this book is written, coupled with David Ritoul's excellent reading, results in a subtle, genuinely disturbing but oddly comforting narrative. The atmosphere it creates reminds me fondly of the kind of ghost story classically told around the fireside, which I enjoyed immensely. There's very little violence and hardly any gore - the horror aspect is more atmospheric and subtle than that, which I admire in a genre increasingly affected by movies. Not that there's anything wrong with gore if it's done well, I just like to have the option.
Um - that probably got a bit wordy. Basically though, if you have a spare audible credit & are looking for a good piece of horror fiction, I'd really recommend The Waiting Room. If you enjoy this, you might enjoy Dark Matter (Michelle Paver) or maybe The Passage (by Justin Cronin), both of which are available on Audible (unfortunately I don't know a lot about F.G. Cottam's other works).
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