I randomly picked this book out on Amazon while looking for some good Halloween reading/horror anthologies. It’s always risky taking a chance on books like these since many of them are aimed at children and/or aren’t very well written. Fortunately, this one doesn’t succumb to either of those trends.
The best way I can describe the book in one sentence is “a literary version of Trick R Treat (the movie)”. The tone is very similar – an anthology of horror stories that are each about the different trappings, traditions, and components of Halloween. While the stories are generally not excessively explicit or gory, they are most definitely NOT for children. If made into a film it would definitely have an R rating – murders are gruesome, sometimes downright disturbing, the main characters don’t always survive the stories, and there’s some adult language. But all of this is balanced by a thread of dark humor that reminded me of Trick R Treat. When a character claims to hate Halloween, you know things aren’t going to end well for them…
There’s a good variety to the individual stories. The settings, time periods, perspectives and even genres differ from story to story. Following a tale about a person being tormented by the ghost of someone they badly wronged in the past, you might get one about an old man jaded by the greed and commercialism of Halloween who ends up finding a reason to participate. Or a tale about two would-be lovers whose story takes place right on the margins of one of our most famous slasher movies (hint: it takes place the morning of Halloween, at a hardware store in a small Illinois town).
If I had any criticism, it would be that a few of the stories are a little too similar to each other. I counted three that were about a person who either purposely or accidentally killed someone, and then subsequently became haunted by their ghost. A couple of the stories have abrupt, ambiguous endings that feel incomplete. As with any anthology, quality varies. But one tale – The Halloween Girl, was so subtly creepy and effective it lingered on my mind for several nights trying to fall asleep.
I enjoyed this book a lot and reading it put me right into the Halloween mood. It’s a quick read, and I recommend it to anyone looking for an injection of Halloween spirit.