Dark Screams: Volume Seven

Edited by: Brian James Freeman and Richard Chizmar

Published By: Hydra

Reviewed by Melissa Minners

                When I noticed Dark Screams Volume Seven at Netgalley, I was ecstatic.  I have enjoyed other Dark Screams anthologies in the past and it had been quite some time since I had read anything horror-related.  I decided I had to check it out!  After all, as any horror fan would agree, October isn’t the only time to read horror stories, right?

                Things start with Lizardman by Robert McCammon.  In this tale, a crocodile hunter sets out to find the biggest crocodile of all.  Lurking through Florida swamps at night, the Lizardman hopes he is no match for the creature that has taken out other croc hunters he knows.  But when he does locate his target, he discovers that this creature is beyond anything he could ever have imagined.

                Next up is A Monster Comes to Ashdown Forest (In Which Christopher Robin Says Goodbye) by James Renner.  Did you know that Christopher Robin was a real person living out his old age in a nursing home?  Well, he is in this story and visiting the Hundred Acre Wood (Ashdown Forest) to everyone else may be every young boy or girl’s dream, but to Christopher Robin, a visit to this place is his worst nightmare.  But when a young child disappears in Ashdown Forest, only to be found dead and mutilated days later, Christopher realizes that one last trip to the forest is in order…if only to prevent the death of other innocent children.

                Kaaron Warren’s Furtherest is next.  In this tale, a young woman tells of her trips to her family beach house and the creepy old man who lived there, always daring the kids to venture further and further into the dunes where a couple of young boys died decades earlier.  The further they travel, the creepier things get, but creepier still is what happens when that old man dies.

                This is followed by West of Matamoros, North of Hell by Brian Hodge in which a metal band heads out to Mexico to promote their latest album with a photo shoot under the statue of Santa Muerte.  Unfortunately, they soon learn that the stories of the Santa Muerte cult are true…in fact, this cult contains some of their greatest fans!

                The Expedition by Bill Schweigart chronicles a journey by Nazi Lieutenant Dietrcih Drexler and a team of scientists and soldiers.  Traveling deep into the ruins of the Carpathian Mountains in a quest to bring honor to the Führer, they come upon something sinister…a predator they initially believe to be a wolf, but actually turns out to be something even more deadly.

                We round things up with Snow Shadows by Mick Garris in which an adulterous affair with a young drama teacher has disastrous results.  The woman’s suicide isn’t the most shocking thing to happen in this story…it’s the moment of revenge perpetrated on her lover and who commits the act!

                I just want to say that this edition of Dark Screams has to be, hands down, the best one yet.  My absolute favorite tale is A Monster Comes to Ashdown Forest.  Who hasn’t read the tale of Christopher Robin and Winnie the Pooh.  Now imagine your favorite honey-loving bear as some sort of monster…or a creature controlled by one.  Now imagine a whole forest filled with these stuffed animals come to life controlled by some sinister lifeforce.  It’s enough to cause nightmares!  Second favorite: West of Matamoros, North of Hell, told in the point of view of one of the band’s members.  Fatal Attraction has nothing on this one – their number one fans want to know the secret to their songs, the inspiration that drives the band.  If these cultists only knew!  Snow Shadow is one hell of a creepy head game complete with a ghost…or is this just a figment of an overactive and incredibly intelligent young mind?

                Oh man, but those were just my favorites – the whole anthology is terrific.  Each and every story offers up an interesting twist.  No straight forward horror here!  No, these stories offer up horror with a twist and endings you might never have expected.  I found myself mesmerized by each story and finished this anthology in two days (would have finished in one, but I did have to work so I could pay bills and all)!  Well done!  I can’t wait to read the next edition of Dark Screams!


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