Tales from the Lake Vol. 2 by Jack Ketchum, Ramsey Campbell, Edward Lee, Tim Lebbon, Lisa Morton, etc.
Publisher: Crystal Lake Publishing
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Horror, Paranormal, Contemporary, Historical
Length: Full Length (382 pages)
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe
If you came here to read short stories about tranquil lakes, run to the nearest exit. Run as far away as you can from Ramsey Campbell, Jack Ketchum, Edward Lee, and our array of international voices:
Tales from The Lake volume two also includes the three winners from Crystal Lake Publishing’s Tales from The Lake Horror Writing Competition:
1st: Descending by John Whalen
2nd: Forever Dark by Jonathan Winn
3rd: Ripperscape by Vincenzo Bilof
Beneath this lake you’ll find nothing but mystery and suspense, horror and dread. Not to mention death and misery – tales to share around the campfire or living room floor. Dive beneath a frozen lake with Rena Mason’s “Winter’s Dollhouse”; allow Tim Lebbon to introduce you to “The God of Rain”; don’t go into the lake when Jim Goforth takes you to the haunting sit of “Lago de los Perdidos”; and never get in an elevator again with John Whalen’s award-winning “Descending.”
Cover by Ben Baldwin, and edited by Joe Mynhardt, Emma Audsley and R.J. Cavender, you can’t afford to spend another minute away from The Lake.
So dive on in.
The water’s just…right.
Even the most deeply buried secrets can eventually see the light of day.
In “Damned If You Do,” a man named John has started seeing a therapist in order to untangle his troubled home life. The problem is that he really doesn’t seem to want to revisit the past and figure out why he’s ended up in such a difficult situation with his wife. I was fascinated by the idea of a protagonist who is incredibly reluctant to allow the audience into even the smallest corner of his mind, and I only became more intrigued by John’s backstory as the plot progressed. The ending caught me by surprise in a good way!
While I enjoyed all of the stories in this anthology, there were a few that could have used little more polishing before being published. “St. Thomas of El Paso” was a good example of this. The plot followed a young man named Thomas who was kicked out of the orphanage where he was being raised when the priest running it discovered that the boy was gay. I was enthralled with the main character’s struggle to survive on his own as a teenager and young adult, especially once strange things began to happen in the small towns near his home. The ending felt rushed when I compared it to the beginning and middle, though. I would have really liked to see the narrator slow down and dig into the conflicts that had originally drawn me into the plot. There was a lot of material in there that wasn’t given as much room to grow as it needed.
What I appreciated the most about “Bone Wary” was how much time the narrator, Henry, took to describe his art studio and home to the audience. All of those details not only made me curious to find out why Henry spent so much time explaining them, they also paid off handsomely once I realized what his dark secret to all of his success was. This is the kind of tale that requires some legwork from the audience in order to understand what’s going on, but it’s well worth the effort.
Tales from the Lake Vol. 2 was a rewarding read. I’d heartily recommend it to any fellow fans of scary science fiction.