By Peter N. Dudar
Reviewed by Sheri White
I became a fan of Pete Dudar when I read his first novel A Requiem for Dead Flies. So when he published his book of short stories, I knew I had to check them out.
The titular story, “Dolly,” reminded me of the beginning of the movie Child’s Play at first. It’s much more horrifying than the movie, though.
Tanya is a single mother to her daughter Olivia after her husband leaves her for another woman he has gotten pregnant. Before he leaves, he gets Olivia an “American Toyhouse” doll. The little girl falls in love with it, and “Dolly” becomes her constant companion. But Tanya begins to think the doll isn’t quite the innocent toy she’s meant to be. As her suspicions grow, so does her resentment towards her ex-husband, leading to a descent into madness.
In “Perversion and Channel 78,” Jeffery becomes obsessed with a woman he spies through the scrambled adult program on the Home Cinemation Network. At first he is content to view her in bits and pieces through the distortion, but this quickly leads up to wanting to see her in her entirety. He searches for the channel’s online page, but can’t get any information about the actress that he desperately wants. Jeffery has several conversations with the station owner in his mind; the owner taunting him about the woman and what he’s going to do with her. Jeffery wonders if he’s going insane, but doesn’t care. When given the opportunity to save the woman on the TV, he jumps at it, no matter the price.
Anybody who has had a yard sale knows how stressful it can be. The haggling, the weather, five-finger discounts, people who are just nosy – but in “The Garage Sale,” Ron and Lorna find themselves having to deal with a madman who won’t leave them alone.
“Clown Smile” is a nasty look at what happens to a man when he takes a strange woman home after a night of drinking. I’m not going to say just what a clown smile is, but I’m sure you can guess. Seth begins to regret taking Nicky home when he realizes she has infected him with something. Once Seth’s teeth begin to fall out, his roommate takes him to the hospital, then tracks down Nicky to see what she is sick with. Unfortunately, she’s not sick at all.
Dolly and Other Stories is a great collection from a very talented writer. From quiet horror to extreme, there is something to please every horror lover. The other stories, “Closet Case,” “Unnatural Selection,” and “Coffee with the White Devil” round out the collection. And don’t skip the author notes at the end of each story; it’s interesting to know how the author came to write them.
I’m looking forward to reading more of Pete’s work, hopefully in the near future.