Friday, July 8, 2016

Sleep Paralysis - by Patrick Lacey - A collection of horror sure to haunt your dreams

4 of 5 Stars     Review copy

Over the centuries, symptoms of Sleep Paralysis have been described in many ways and often attributed to an "evil" presence: unseen night demons in ancient times, the old hag in Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, and alien abductors. Almost every culture throughout history has had stories of shadowy evil creatures that terrify helpless humans at night. People have long sought explanations for this mysterious sleep-time paralysis and the accompanying feelings of terror.

In his new collection Patrick Lacey presents eighteen tales of horror to keep you up at night.

Worm Garden - "A Quaker cemetery dating back to the seventeenth century, sometimes referred to as the Worm Garden because of the unusual moisture in the soil that lasted most of the year."  The perfect setting for best friend paranormal investigators who share more than an interest in ghosts.

Operation Parasite -A deftly told story of a man who believes an evil corporation has bio-engineered parasites which are now in each of us waiting to take control.  Is it a story of one man's raging paranoia...or is he actually telling the truth.

Pen Pals - A totally cool tale of a third grader assigned a pen pal who has some frightening powers.

Downing In Filth - A delightfully disgusting story of the host of a "Hoarders" type TV show who becomes afflicted after a strange encounter at one subject's home.  "Long live the filth,"

Lost and Found - The story of a boy with a speech impediment who doesn't stutter when talking to a dead girl.

First Bell - A sad ghost story set on the one year anniversary of a school shooting. Poignant and touching.

Send Your End - "Send Your End.  It's a secret website with a generic black background and a single field in which to type a password.  After typing in the password, the screen is filled with thumbnail of videos and an option to submit.  There are thousands."  A story of a strange addiction.  Disturbing, yet well-told.

The Lynnwood Vampires - A gritty tale of a new cult taking over a community and one father's fight to protect his daughter.  We hear the words, "It's just a phase." quite often, but when does a phase become something worse.

Norton - The familiar story of a stuffed animal with something evil within.  This tale of such a bunny takes an interesting turn.

Cold Call - "I'd sell my soul for a second chance."  Be careful what you wish for.  You never know who might me listening.

Bad Egg - A woman whose biological clock is ticking wants a baby in the worst way. Patrick Lacey is happy to oblige with this crazy tale.

Critter Marrow - If there is a theme in this collection, I'd have to say it's the author's ability to take the simplest day-to-day activities and inject an element of horror to give the reader something different.  This time it's the spam folder for a work e-mail system.

Last Words - "I think that everyone is really two different people.  There's the person you are to the world, and there's the person you are to yourself.  In my experience, they're quite...incompatible." When Peter finds a hidden trap door in the basement of his recently deceased father's basement those words take on a whole new meaning.

Lost Things - A homeless man, a dumpster, and a baby and voilà, an instant horror story.

The Boss - One of the stranger stories in this collection, but truthfully the weirdest part is someone making 50K a year flipping burgers for a living.

Mrs. Alto's Garden - As I read this tale, I couldn't keep from thinking, "Mary, Mary, quite contrary, how does your garden grow?"  In Mrs. Alto's garden the answer is quite different than the one in the children's nursery rhyme.

Big Bertha - Big Bertha is the oldest game in the arcade.  I've always found arcades to be creepy, especially when they're closed and they don't want you to leave.

Full Disclosure - The collection finishes with another ghost story.  A ghost who haunts his old apartment and falls in love with it's newest tenant, but then she brings home a cuckoo clock with something evil attached.  I loved this story.  My wife works at a nursing home and occasionally when a resident passes they will leave some personal item behind and my wife will bring it home.  I always worry that she'll bring home some stray spirit.

Admittedly some stories were stronger than others, but they were all entertaining as Patrick Lacey repeatedly took an everyday situation and turned it on its head.


Sleep Paralysis, from Great Old Ones Publishing, is available now in both paperback and e-book formats.

Patrick Lacey says he was born and raised in a haunted house.  Which, if true, would explain a lot. He currently spends his nights and weekends writing about things that make the general public uncomfortable.  He lives in Massachusetts with his wife, his Pomeranian, his cat, and his muse, who is likely trying to kill him.

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