Death’s Sweet Echo
Maynard and Sims
Tickety Boo Press
December 3, 2015
Reviewed by Emily Weil
Death’s Sweet Echo is the 10th collection of stories from legendary horror writers Len Maynard and Mick Sims under their pen name, Maynard and Sims. These thirteen tales are not just your average bland ghost stories but a masterful blend of thought-provoking, chill-producing paranormal fiction.
The collection includes stories, such as “Glorious Dilapidation,” a tale about an abandoned house in the woods that only comes back to life when it’s time to claim a new unfortunate victim. “Hoping He Wouldn’t Be Too Late” redefines the old adage you can’t go home again to maybe you shouldn’t even try, while the mind-twisting tale of “I’m Here” will leave you scratching your head and wondering was it all real or just a fantasy.
“The Sweet Decay of Youth” highlights the petty shallowness of its characters, who, while each is sunk in their own thoughts, allows one young man to make sure his friends will always stay together, forever. “Silver” is a cautionary tale about a young girl who just can’t help falling for bad boys and her poor father who is left with the sorrow of her choices, whereas “And It Goes Like This” spins a sad tale of talent lost and endless possibilities cut short. “Just the Way It Is” begins with two widowed friends sharing cigars and telling the tale of a fallen politician who should not have made a fool of his wife. Not only does Richard Randolph lose his wife, his kids, his home and his political career he also loses his mind then his life. This lovely little cautionary tale of a woman done wrong raises the questions was Randolph the victim of a vampire, his own or his wife’s witchcraft, or maybe he just went mad with guilt.
“The Waltzer King” spins another cautionary tale of women and witchcraft – when Gloria Cooper tells young Judd Harrison to stay away from her granddaughter, he really should have listened. “Cold Comfort” tells the tale of Amrit, who makes energy cold calls and was unfortunate enough to dial David’s number – Amrit can only listen in growing horror to David’s story.
“Restitution” is the final cautionary tale about listening to your elders, in which a well-meaning social worker unwittingly returns the one hundred and fifty year old angry spirit of a sixteen year old girl to the home she was supposed to live in with bloody consequences.
Some of my favorites in this collection included “Another Bite of the Cherry,” a well told, devilishly twisted tale about love betrayed. It features a man so dedicated to his love that he has searched through the centuries for the perfect woman to revive her, only to find out that his resurrected lover is fickle. Women can be very touchy about their ages especially when a man doesn’t get that part as nearly as right as she would have liked. “I Hear His Footsteps Drawing Near“ is the terrifying story of a woman wronged and the vengeance she takes on any man unfortunate enough to cross her path. For years her spirit has wreaked its vengeance, until she meets one woman who believes in the man she loves enough to uncover the truth. It’s a true horror story featuring an angry spirit and possession but it’s the additional surprising emotional factor of the loss and perceived betrayal of a loved one that makes this tale a real stand-out. “Guilt Casts a Long Shadow” is about Martin, a flat out rat, who’s gotten people fired, broken up relationships and even slept with his own brothers wife, but now his lifetime of guilt has built up and is starting to leak out of his subconscious as he sleeps. So Martin tells all of his evil deeds to the vicar of St. Andrews thinking that if he tells someone it will make more room inside him and the guilt will stop leaking out. Martin thinks of himself as a survivor and that all the evil things he’s done has been because he had to; he has no regret for what he’s done and cares nothing at all for penance. I love this one for two reasons: first, because who doesn’t like the satisfaction of someone get just what they deserve? And secondly, the idea of using one’s own guilt as shadows to get revenge is such an original and aptly cunning idea.
All in all, the thirteen tales in Death’s Sweet Echo are sure to have a little something to make everyone cringe in horror and will leave you well satisfied.