*** "Blue Amber"--David J. Schow
A pretty good take on the alien-pod-people theme, set on a rural ranch. A couple of cops come to investigate, and get far more than they bargained for. Firmly in the horror genre, with a 'zombie' feel to it...
*****"Click-Clack the Rattlebag"--Neil Gaiman
Super-creepy short tale, with the feel of the stories kids tell each other at sleepover parties... Reminded me just a little bit of Kelly Link's 'The Specialist's Hat.' (Another super-creepy tale.)
*** "Cavity Creeps"--Cody Goodfellow
Evil, nasty creatures - a metaphor for despair - plague the down-and-out inhabitants of a storage facility used as a flophouse. A lighter touch with the 'message' would've improved the story, but it's still a good horror genre piece.
*** "The Glitter of the Crowns"--Charlaine Harris
A light touch and some nice twists here. In a rural mountain neighborhood, one family's kids are overshadowed by the two young beauty pageant queens who live next door. But when werewolves are thrown into the mix, not all turns out as expected.
*** "Doll’s Eyes"--Tim Bryant
A man's desire to have a child becomes twisted into something supernaturally evil, after repeated miscarriages...
* "Bloaters"--Neal Barrett, Jr.
I really dislike the style of writing featured in this story. A down-homey, tall-tale absurdism, I guess one could call it? For some, it may be a feature. The kernel of the story itself wasn't bad (vampires and other supernatural creatures), but I felt like I was wading through unnecessary gunk to get to it.
** "Detritus"--Chet Williamson
A man staying in a hotel room starts to get obsessively grossed out by the idea of the biological remnants of previous occupants of the place. Good idea, developed well... but the totally random 'surprise' ending blew it for me. It wasn't necessary.
**** "Monster"--Anne Perry
Very nice tale in the classic horror vein. A bookstore owner's new partner offers to host him on a luxury cruise while they discuss the business. As a favor, the businessman also asks the bookseller to be a friendly companion to his young daughter, who's grieving over the recent, tragic loss of her mother. But not all is as it seems, as a macabre thread weaves itself into events.
*** "Orange Lake"--Al Sarrantonio
Classic B-movie fare. A group of young people seek a week's rental at a lake house, to party and have a good time. When they find a deal that seems too good to be true - it is.
*** "Nathan"--Selina Rosen
A boy's 'imaginary friend' is a murderous psychopath.
*** "Blood Moccasins"--Bradley Denton
A rare genetic disorder causes the blood of the men of a certain family to morph into snakes when spilled. This isn't really a healthy situation, but it can be turned to use...
*** "The Case of the Angry Traveler" (A Dana Roberts Adventure)"--Joe R. Lansdale
Mole people! Paranormal investigators! Aliens! A fun tale, felt like it would make a great TV episode.
3 star average, exactly.