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James Pratt likes to create realistically flawed but basically decent characters and have them cross paths with serial killer angels, redneck vampires, slithering horrors from other dimensions, and the end of the world. He also likes to write stories that demonstrate how the ever-present darkness threatening to wash over the world like a wave of endless night can be held back with a little courage and a big shotgun (assuming one hasn't already used both barrels, of course). Some take place in the distant past, others in the far future, and still others somewhere between eight minutes ago and twelve minutes from now. Whether sci-fi, adventure, or straight-out horror, the running theme is that the universe is very, very big and we are very, very small.
on July 13, 2013 :
I really didn't know what to expect when I picked up this anthology. Sure, I head read the title, but not the description. I've read Pratt's work before and had a general idea what I was going to be faced with, but what I got was something above and beyond his previous works.
'Horrible Stories' is a really interesting mix of monster stories that all seem to be interconnected in some manner. In some places, it's hard to see how they are connected, while in others the threads run extremely close to the other stories. More than once characters suddenly crop up, their paths crossing as you get further into the anthology. This is one of the charming points of this anthology. No matter what, all the stories are in the same universe, so in a way there's a nice common ground you can rely on while reading.
Pratt's writing in this anthology is fairly strong. The action flows well from one story to another, and their placement works well amongst their neighbors. A few of the stories I found to be a bit abrupt in their ending, sort of like driving your car along a patch of road to suddenly find yourself over a cliff, falling to your doom. The stories that did this, though few, were jarring and tended to drag me out of the story and anthology.
But thankfully the other stories brought me back time and time again, especially once I was past the mid-point of the collection. As the stories built, so did the world and the characters within it. Pratt did a good job with characters like Vlad, Horton and Rudy. (okay, as much as I hate the whole talking dog thing, Rudy grew on me, and Pratt did a fantastic job making one of my most disliked children's tv shows into a legit feeling story)
One of my favorite points was Vlad showing up at the vampire party, and simply his view of the various types of vampires. Pratt actually made me laugh out loud there and I immediately shared it with my girlfriend. It's small moments like that which make this anthology more than simply just another monster anthology.
'Horrible Stories' is a good collection, and one I highly suggest for others to pick up. I enjoyed it, the pricing is good, and it isn't your standard mix of monster stories. (though you will have to get past the werewolf story in the beginning which will make you think that is all they are. Trust me, they aren't all like that, just keep reading) So if you like monsters, and want a fun and entertaining ride through a unique world, pick this collection up. Well worth a read.
(reviewed long after purchase)