Tuesday, November 1, 2016
Wicked Witches: An Anthology of the New England Horror Writers - ed. by Scott Goudsward, David Price, & Daniel Keohane - A wonderfully diverse collection of witches
Before reviewing the stories that make up this anthology I need to mention Mikio Murakami, the artist responsible for the artwork on the eye-catching cover of Wicked Witches. Beautifully done, as is this collection of twenty-wo remarkable short stories about good witches, bad witches, and every shade in between.
That Witch We Dread by Suzanne Reynolds-Alpert - A delightful poem to begin this wickedly entertaining anthology.
In Agatha Craggins' Defense by John McIlveen - John is one of several writers in this collection whose work is already familiar to me. In this tale, John gives us the story of a woman everyone in town believes to be a witch, and her young apprentice. Expect the unexpected.
Welcome to the D.I.V. by Errick A. Nunnally - How far would you go for a chance at significant wealth? What does witchcraft have to do with becoming a big time stock broker? The answers lie within.
The Witch's Apprentice by Morven Westfield - A young witch who wants it all now. What could possible go wrong?
Going Home by James A. Moore - When it comes to storytelling there are few better than James A. Moore. This one set in modern day Salem.
White Witch by Catherine Grant - A story steeped in the witchcraft known as voodoo. There are some gems in Catherine's prose. He smelled of rum and whiskey, like a perfume gone to rot. And...The blade sliding through his flesh like over-ripe papaya. This piece is as good as its prose.
Baskets by Paul McMahon by Tommy thinks he's gotten Gandma Shawl all figured out, but outsmarting a witch isn't as easy as it might seem.
The Saint of Regret by Nick Manzolillo - I liked the author's imagery well enough, but I didn't quite connect with this particular story.
Witch by Trisha J. Woolridge - Another poem fitting for this collection. Admittedly, I'm not a fan of most poetry, but I loved this story and the way it was told.
Run in the Widow's Hell by K.H. Vaughn - Every holler had a Granny Witch, a tough old hill woman who could cure warts and fevers or brew up a charm for love or money. Runnin' moonshine is not without it's perils and the revenuers aren't the only ones you need to watch out for.
Portrait of an Old Woman With Crows by Peter N. Dudar - One of my favorite stories in the anthology. A perfectly creepy little tale, chilling and very effective, about what happens when an art student paints a subject without her permission.
Tilberian Holiday by Izzy Lee - Although just a short story. This one packs a punch. I loved how it all came together in the end. A story of the tiberi, cool pets that do your bidding.
To Dance the Witches Circle Again by Morgan Sylvia - A first person tale of witch hunts with a truly delightful twist.
Another Plane by Patrick Lacey - A well-told tale of a man who loses his wife when she tries to find her sister on another plane.
Access Violation by Jeremy Flagg - A modern day coven made up of hackers performing their own special kind of witchcraft.
T.S. Eliot Burns in Hell by GD Dearborn - The disturbing tale of a journalist's quest to get the story of his music idol's disappearance at the very pinnacle of her career. One of the best in an anthology of great shorts. I loved the line The ancient farmhouse looked like its best days were a century gone. It aspired to ramshackle-ness. Good stuff.
Black Forest, Black Heart by Joshua Goudreu - A story that combines witchcraft with werewolves and even a bit of Lovecraftian mythos, all deftly woven into one great tale.
The Jatinga Effect by Doug Rinaldi - A compelling read with great characterizations, particularly the Russian co-worker Bogdan. When sleep walking becomes sleep driving...
The Place of Bones by Barry Lee Dejasu - "Any of you ever hear of the Bone Witch?" A group of college students take a break from their studies and head off into the wooded area behind the campus, where campfire tales become all to real.
Creaking Through Salem by Ogmios - One more break for poetry.
Blessed Be and Kick Ass by Jan Kozlowski - A powerfully moving story which made me feel empathy for the young girls involved and anger toward their abusive parents. Well done, Jan.
Moving House by Rob Smales - A great way to end the anthology. If you've ever had a run-in with a condo or homeowner's association, you might get a kick out of this one.
I found the stories in Wicked Witches to be diverse, engrossing, and totally enjoyable. This may seem like a narrow theme for such a large anthology, but each story had it's own unique vision keeping the collection fresh from start to finish.
Halloween may be past, but good horror can be appreciated all year long.
Wicked Witches is published by NEHW Press and is available in both paperback and Kindle formats. If you subscribe to Kindle Unlimited you may read it at no additional charge and if you're an Amazon Prime member you can read Wicked Witches for FREE through the Kindle Owners Lending Library.