Tales from the Lake Vol. 1

Tales from the Lake Vol. 1 by Graham Masterton, G.N. Braun, Taylor Grant, John Palisano, Charles Day, John Paul Allen, Bev Vincent, Elizabeth Massie, Joan De La Haye, Tim Curran, Tim Waggoner, Jennifer Loring, J. Daniel Stone, William Ritchey, and Blaze McRob
Publisher: Crystal Lake Publishing
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Horror, Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Short Story (128 pages)
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

Dive into fourteen tales of non-themed horror, with short stories and dark poems by some of the best horror writers in the world, including the master himself, Graham Masterton.

Allow the very first instalment of Tales From the Lake to transport you to lakeside terror in Lover, Come Back to Me, Lady of Lost Lake, and Game On; journey to the basement of your local pet store in Dead Pull and your neighbourhood pub in O’Halloran’s; visit the apocalypse in Devil’s Night; travel to Africa in Witch-Compass and The Reunion; spend time with the talking dolls in Don’t Look at Me; experience drug addiction from close up in Junksick; and climb a ladder to the heavens in Perrollo’s Ladder.

Tales From the Lake Vol.1 includes the winning stories from the 2013 Tales From the Lake Horror Writing Competition: a nautical tale in Jenn Loring’s The Art of Wrecking; a bizarre story of strange addictions in J. Daniel Stone’s Alternative Muses; and a cult horror story in the jungles of South America in William Ritchey’s Las Maquinas.

Welcome to Crystal Lake.

Perfectly ordinary days only remain so for as long as nothing unexpected happens. Unfortunately for the characters in the first volume of Tales From the Lake, extraordinary days far outnumber the run-of-the-mill ones.

Placing “Lover, Come Back to Me” first in line was an excellent decision. Alan’s reluctant fishing trip with his girlfriend, Jan, quickly wanders into some strange territory when she notices something weird happening as they wait for fish to nibble on their lines. Strong pacing and a few twists that I never saw coming kept me glued to the page until the end.

All of the stories in this collection have sharp, interesting premises, but some of them would have benefitted from more time to be fully developed before being released. For example, “O’Halloran’s” follows the bizarre journey of a man who has just dropped his girlfriend off at the hospital for an abortion. I had trouble following what happens next, though, and was a little puzzled by how certain events were meant to tie together.

Anyone who picks up this anthology should read “Don’t Look at Me” first. Imagine spending years sitting alone in a neglected corner of a garden shop as a conscious, intelligent garden gnome who can’t do anything to change his circumstances. It’s a boring, lonely, and depressing existence until everything changes in an instant. I loved the wry perspective of this narrator and would be quite interested in reading a sequel to his adventures.

“The Fine Art of Wrecking” is another example of a fascinating premise that never quite ties all of its clues together. Christopher grew up in a small, poor, isolated town that keeps itself going through a peculiar arrangement they’ve made with an incredibly powerful being. I quickly found myself immersed in the tough decisions Christopher and his neighbors have made in order to survive, but it would have been easier to understand the climax of this piece had more information about their arrangement been provided. A few other short stories were similarly a little sparse on important details.

This is an intriguing collection of horror and science fiction tales. From what I understand, there is a distinct possibility that a sequel is in the works. I, for one, am looking forward to reading more from any author lucky enough to be included in this anthology.

Tales from the Lake Vol. 1 has piqued my curiosity. This book is something I’d recommend to anyone who likes their science fiction dark and full of chilling twists.

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