JournalStone Books second release in their Double Down series is another winner. This is where JournalStone puts together a single volume featuring two novellas, one from an established writer and another from a relatively new voice in horror. Three months ago they released Book 1, Only The Thunder Knows & East End Girls, from Gord Rollo and Rene Mason. Both stories about horrors in Great Britain's past and both well received.
This time the action takes place in the good old USA in the early to mid 1960s. Up first is Smog from Bram Stoker award winning author Lisa Morton. The setting is a suburb of Los Angeles called San Diablo. The opening paragraph is perfect, "I was twelve years old in 1965. It was a year when the world was changing: Walter Cronkite reported on civil rights every night; we were sending troops to a country called Vietnam; men were walking in space, and the Rolling Stones were making rock and roll music sound nasty. Computers filled up entire buildings at NASA; the internet was decades away; our biggest war was cold and telephones were still things that were wired into walls."
Michaela Jo Donohue, who goes by Joey, is the one telling the story. I loved the way Lisa Morton sets the stage by capturing the times so clearly and then throws in an unexpected event to combine with the area's Smog and what started out so sweet and innocent begins a downward spiral into insanity happening all around.
Smog is a lot of fun, but ends a bit too soon. I would have loved it to have been longer, but the writer does do a nice job of tying up the loose ends in the epilogue while still leaving plenty to the imagination.
The second story is from Eric J. Guignard. And Baggage of Eternal Night is his debut work of long fiction. A fascinating, original tale set in Detroit in the early 1960s. Charlie Stewart tells the story of what happened to his pal Joey Third, real name Joey Thurston, so called because he was the Third Joey gambling one night at Little Louie's and the name just stuck, after picking up an odd leather suitcase at a baggage auction.
Guignard shows excellent story-telling skills and the mood is like a really good episode of The Twilight Zone. In a short amount of time, the writer manages to create genuine characters that I really cared about, flaws and all, and takes us on an improbable journey into the world of Rasputin, Russia's Mad Monk. Baggage of the Eternal Night is really worth your time.
The official release date for Smog/Baggage of Eternal Night is September 6, 2013, but I believe it's available now in a variety of formats From the JournalStone website and Amazon.com.
This is one I can strongly recommend. I'm already looking forward to JournalStone's DoubleDown Series, Book III.