Wednesday, November 24, 2010

ThankScreaming Day: Book Reviews for Apexology Horror and The Undead That Saved Christmas

Thanksgiving afternoon and you’re already wishing the relatives would go home? Instead of listening to Uncle Fred’s proctologist stories, sneak away with something even scarier than your family. Both of these books are available in e-book form, so you can hide in the bathroom with your smartphone or e-reader until the last dishes are done.

I read horror much like someone who is discovered with ill-advised substances: “I’m holding it for a friend. Really.”

That said, I do like the non-gory stuff, especially if it’s funny. When I saw the phrase “Cthulhu comedy of manners” on Twitter one day, I had to know more. Apex Book Company was kind enough to share Apexology: Horror, a huge horror anthology which I quickly realized could only be read during full daylight with all the lights on. These are old-school scares done right; no sparkly undead here, just enough creepy terrors to make you crave a Snoopy night light. I did find that Cthulhu story, “To Every Thing There Is A Season” by Dru Pagliassotti, and loved it! If she turned it into a full book, I would snap it up. Her writing is funny, freaky and a better read than “Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters.” I also enjoyed “The Spider In The Hairdo” by Michael A. Burstein, which gave an old urban legend new, frightening life, and “Transylvania Mission” by Lavie Tidhar, a satisfying twist on Dracula. Some stories weren’t my taste, but there is something in this collection for everyone, so it is a great bargain for any scare-seeker.

For the second book, this is part review, part plug. The Undead That Saved Christmas is a zombie holiday anthology featuring stories, art and poems by Stacey Graham, Jason Tudor, Angie Mansfield, and oh yeah, me! Need more awesomeness? It also has an introduction by S. G. Browne, author of zombie hits Breathers and Fated. Proceeds from the anthology go to the Hugs Foster Family Agency and editor Lyle Perez-Tinics has selected a diverse undead lineup to keep readers entertained.

In addition to great folks and a great cause, the book has some stellar zombie action, from mad scientists and killer elves to zombie Santas and AK-47s painted like candy canes. “The Legend of Zombie Claus” by Joe Fillippone has some of the best dialogue I’ve ever read in a horror story, and several stories have a delightfully twisted sense of humor; Graham’s “To All A Good Fright” made me laugh out loud from the first line. The Undead That Saved Christmas is also available as an old-fashioned print book, just in case you want to share the drippy, gooey, brain-eating fun with someone special.

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