Edited by Doug Draa
Cover Artist: H.Witte/Fotolia
Review by Sam Tomaino
Wildside Press Magazine (print/digital) ISBN/ITEM#: B074P775S4
Date: 26 January 2018
Links: Weirdbook Magazine / How to Subscribe / Pub Info / Table of Contents /
Weirdbook #36 is here with stories by L.F. Falconer, Gillian French, Franklyn Searight, Dean Macallister, C.C. Adams, James Pratt, Megan Neumann, D.C. Lozar, MB Vigil, Kelly Gould, Joe DiCicco, Matt Sullivan, William Tea, Gigi Eng, W.D. Clifton, S.L. Edwards, Neal Privett, Chris Kuriata. C.M. Muller and Jeremy Hayes, and many poems.
The fiction begins with "Burn on the Bayou" by L.F. Falconer. -+- Lucien Greyshire has had some hard turns in his life but he has made a success of haunted house parties on Halloween. This year's event is in an old Civil War era mansion that was the site of gruesome murders. This year he has a special client named Brock Henning who has been going through his wife's money and wants to make that easier. But things do not go as planned. Good solid story.
"The Mumbler" by Gillian French -+- In their small town, our narrator, Izzy (probably short for Isabel or Isabella) and her friend, Frannie, hang out with Cole, a punk drug dealer. They play Halloween pranks, fool around and laugh at the legend of the local boogeyman, The Mumbler, who hangs out near a railroad bridge and supposedly murders kids. Does it get one of them? Good setting but you really don't like these people.
"Cleric at Sentinel Hill" by Franklyn Searight. -+- The cover proclaims this "a brand new Cthulhu Mythos story". Alan Hasrad is a reporter for the Arkham Daily and "a cautious but energetic nemesis of Dark Forces that had emigrated to Earth". His sister, Allison Hasrad Armitage, is director of the Lovecraft Memorial Wing of the Miskatonic University Library and wife of Alonzo Armitage, Jr, manager of the Antiquities Department at Miskatonic. When someone attacks her in her office, she calls her brother on the telephone and asks for his help. When he arrives, she is missing but a note on her pad saying "Dunwich - Yog Sothoth - 10:30" which sends him to the old decrepit town that was the site of a Horror some 80-90 years ago. Alan and Allison are descendants of Abdul Alhazred and Alan worries that she might be that night's sacrifice. The subsequent events aren't particularly surprising but what is odd is how open the Dunwich residents are to talk with Alan who is a complete stranger. This story uses a lot of the tropes but does not feel like a Cthulhu Mythos story at all.
"Whores and Criminals" by Dean Macallister -+- Max and Jimmy have survived a plane crash. Jimmy saved Max's life when they went down into the water and managed to get them both to a deserted island. Max has always been the handsome Jimmy's wingman when he met girls in bars. What's life going to be like on the island? Okay, but kind of predictable.
"The Quiet on the Water" by C.C. Adams -+- Jordan is supposed to spend the day in a boat on the lake with his friend, Lou, but ditches him for private time with his girlfriend, Celia. Even though he had cheated on her with her friend Megan, he wants her, too. But Celia has other plans. Nice little chill in this one.
"The Haggard Brothers Go to Town" by James Pratt -+- Pug Haggard tells his brothers, Utler and Rez, that it was time to go to town. Pug wants to court Lenore Malveki even though their fathers hate each other. But this isn't a story of good old boys in the Southern U.S., but set in some sort of fantasy world. The fathers of Pug and Lenore are wizards and Pug's father had resorted to extremes to keep his sons alive. The story gets stranger as it goes on and was made amusing by the tone. A lot of fun and kind of charming.
"The Awakening" by Megan Neumann -+- Delia lets Ambrose Stormwater, a man she had met just three days before, strangle her mother right in front of her. That's how the story starts out. We get the backstory and find out that there's something unusual about Delia and Stormwater and what he is really doing. Nicely done.
"Dead Line" by D.C. Lozar -+- Sally wasn't good at life and wasn't much better in death. So she's been assigned to haunt an out-of-service phone booth. When a teenage runaway named Frank seeks refuge, she decides to haunt him but things turn out differently. Nicely poignant story.
"The Waterman's Song" by MB Vigil -+- When his parents die, Crawford moves in with his maternal grandparents on the Chesapeake. But Grandpa, whose mind has begun to fail, sings a song of the sea creature that is his one true love. But is he really having delusions? Good end to this one.
"Maleficium" by Kelly Gould -+- When Jerry Moen, a local ex-con is murdered in a grizzly fashion, two detectives start their investigation. The story goes back in time to tell us what happened. Pretty good story.
"The Green Dome" by Joe DiCicco -+- In a future in which Earth is badly polluted, Aidy and Fresha go into debt to take a trip to Green Dome City at the north pole of the Moon. It has a strange effect on Aidy. Okay.
"We Who Walk on Worlds" by Matt Sullivan -+- Maeve seeks the help of the wizard Maxus in freeing her prince from being possessed by a demon from another dimension. She knows how to use a sword but has been the prince's servant. Maxus shows her what she needs to do and it's no small thing. Some good turns of plot in a well-imagined fantasy story.
"Insect Song" by William Tea -+- Felissa Brite returns to her hometown of Locust Burrow, Pennsylvania, where she can still hear the whine of the cicadas. She is there to reconcile with her mother but that does not go well. She hears a rustling and senses some presence behind her. A stop in a bar reveals more about her and puts her in danger. Good resolution to this atmospheric tale.
"The Harvest Moon Festival" by Gigi Eng -+- Winston Wang is asked by his mother to visit her hometown in China for the Harvest Moon Festival. Even in Communist China, old customs are kept. A little silly.
"Like Falling Snow" by W.D. Clifton -+- Kho is a traveler in a northern land. He is not actually a human and calls himself an orc, although not of the Tolkien kind. He meets a shaman named Snaer who tells him they are on the borders of a territory that is beset by a monstrous boar called the Gorkunrekr. He tells Kho that the jarl who controls the area will pay handsomely for the head of this beast and that Wotun has told him it is Kho's destiny to be the boar's slayer. This sets up a pretty good story that one might expect is the beginning of a series.
"The Oldest Story" by S.L. Edwards -+- A team of archeologists studies the writing on the wall of what is considered the oldest building in the world, discovered in Iraq. But there is more than just writing there and deciphering it is not an easy task. Unsettling story.
"Geronimo Versus Frankenstein" by Neal Privett -+- In October of 1886, at Fort Pickens in Florida, the great Apache chief, Geronimo, tells a soldier about an encounter on a mountaintop in Mexico with a certain doctor from Europe and his monstrous creation. Great little story!
"The Black-and-White Dozen" by Chris Kuriata -+- While his wife and daughter are out, Colin looks at a set of pornographic pictures that his father had acquired in Europe. But we get the backstory that he does not know about that makes this truly horrifying. A nice build up of horror.
"Omzetten" by C.M. Muller -+- A letter written by a young woman named Jacqueline to her mother about how she and her friends got on the wrong train going to Amsterdam and wound up in a strange town from which there is no escape. Okay story but the letter which could not be sent is a bit contrived.
"Vandegald's Globes" by Jeremy Hayes -+- Vandegald owns a gift shop in a town in a fantasy world. He sells globes with beautifully carved bases but it's what inside the globes that people want. They are creatures called bolgrocks or trolls or ghosts. Vandegald tells people they are illusions. But he is a sorcerer and has shrunk and imprisoned real creatures in the globes. Business booms and he decides to expand his repertoire. Big mistake. Good story.
Doug Draa has produced a new Weirdbook worthy of the great magazine that Paul Ganley started back in the 70s. It is worthy of our support.