Dark Screams: Volume Two
Published By: Hydra
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
Having loved the first volume of Dark Screams, a horror anthology edited by Brian James Freeman and Richard Chizmar, I couldn't wait to check out the next volume. Dark Screams: Volume Two features five more tales from various writers of the genre - Robert McCammon, Norman Prentiss, Shawntelle Madison, Graham Masterton and Richard Christian Matheson. I was lucky to get my hands on it before the publication date (March 3, 2015).
The anthology begins with Robert McCammon's The Deep End, a horror story about a monster lurking in the town pool. Glenn Calder's sixteen year old son Neill was a good swimmer. He never should have drowned in the public pool. But drown he did. Glenn is haunted by his death...so much so that he begins to do some research on the subject, soon learning that mysterious drownings have been occurring ever since the weird light storm some decades ago. Now Glenn is going back to that pool...to put the monster back where it belongs.
Interval, by Norman Prentiss, is a demon tale. In the midst of a horrific situation in which one of a bankrupt airline's planes goes missing, a young airline employee does her best to maintain her calm demeanor. The friends and family of the flight's passengers are scared and need her guidance. She soon learns that not everyone in the room is meant to be there. One is hunting demons...and the other is a demon feeding of the room's misery.
Shawntelle Madison's If These Walls Could Talk is a stalker story of sorts. A production set manager with demons in her past finds herself working on a historic property, prepping for filming. Their guide is the home's owner Patrick, a man vaguely familiar, though Eleanor can't seem to place his face. She soon learns that not recognizing Patrick could be the very thing that leads to her demise.
The Night Hider by Graham Masterton is a ghost story featuring the writer C.S. Lewis and his wardrobe. When Dawn receives the gift of an antique wardrobe from her aunt, it comes complete with the ghost of a severely burnt man with a bend toward revenge. Learning of the wardrobe's history, Dawn realizes there is only one thing she can do to prevent the angry burnt man from harming anyone. But will destroying the wardrobe destroy Dawn in the end?
The anthology ends with Richard Christian Matheson's Whatever, the story of a 1970s rock band whose unique sound and style launch them to the top. The horror comes in their decline and ultimate demise thanks to the changing musical tastes of the next generation. This is not exactly one of those ghost, zombie or thing that goes bump in the night stories. This is a tale of the horrors of real life and the effect they can have on people if they are not prepared to deal with them.
They always say that sequels are not as good as the movie or book that started it all. I tend to disagree with that. Some sequels can be much better than the originals. Though that's not exactly true of the second volume of Dark Screams, I can honestly say that the book does have its strong points. I enjoyed the monster tale of The Deep End and really got into The Night Hider, though I wish it had ended a bit differently. If These Walls Could Talk was incredibly creepy and not a tale you want to read on a dark night...unless you're into that sort of thing. Those are the good points of Dark Screams: Volume 2.
Here are the bad points. Interval starts off great and builds nicely, but in the end fizzles out and never really reaches its full potential. Whatever has no supernatural flare and that's okay. But the reader never really finds themselves getting close to the members of the band and so, the horrors that happen in their lives feel distant. They don't really affect the reader the way that the author intended.
All in all, Dark Screams: Volume 2 is an enjoyable and fast read, but it's dwarfed by its predecessor. The sequel, in this instance, is not as good as the original...but it's not horrible either.