Scott Goudsward, Daniel G Keohane, David Price (eds)
October 11, 2017
Reviewed by Elaine Pascale
Wicked Haunted is another formidable collection put forth by New England Horror Writers (NEHW). While reading, I realized that I had not heard a good ghost story in far too long, and was way overdue.
All of the stories, poems, and pictures in this anthology are entertaining. The cover, by Mikio Murakami, is haunting (excuse the pun) and highly attractive. With a nod to Poe’s idea of “single effect,” this collection is truly meant to be read story by story. The stories can be read in any order, but a reader will want to space them out to allow for deserved time in between for reflection.
While each offering was of fantastic quality, there were a few that remained with me after reading:
Peter N. Dudar’s “The Thing with No Face” is a standard ghost tale that one can imagine being told around a campfire. In the story, Kevin Ellis returns home haunted by the long-ago death of his friend Reggie Acton and the dog, Butch, that had to be put down following the harrowing event.
K H Vaughn’s “They, Too, Want to be Remembered” was probably my favorite of the entire collection. This story is firmly planted in Boston, with authentic dialogue and setting details. Without giving too much away, the story addresses a fascinating piece of Boston history with impressive imagination and sensitivity. I would love to see this story made into a short film or episode of a Black Mirror type show.
In “Everything Smells like Smoke Again,” Curtis M. Lawson investigates the haunting impact of addiction. Sometimes the pull of inherited trauma is just too comforting to want to seek help.
Larissa Glasser’s “Mouse” centers on a transgender character that undergoes a different type of transformation. This story highlights the very real disconnect between how we see ourselves and the rest of the world’s perception of us.
Matt Bechtel’s “The Walking Man.” The story begins, “Not all ghosts are dead,” and leads you on a very sad and scary path until you are agreeing with the narrator in saying, “there but for the grace of God, go I.”
Paul McMahon’s “The Pick Apart” really creeped me out. It had all of the makings of an engaging urban legend.
Rob Smales never fails to seduce me with his writing. He hit one out of the park again with “The Road to Gallway.” This was another “campfire type tale” about Old Charlie with the ending providing a wonderful twist.
Barry Lee Dejasu’s “Tripping the Ghost” took the standard ghost tale in a direction I wasn’t expecting (ask yourself if you would expect necrosynthetic myceliation). Truly inventive.
Doungai Gam’s “We’re All Haunted Here” showcased the level of grief that the dead experience. For those of us who have lost loved ones, it is not a comforting thought, but the emotions and evocative writing really resonated.
I highly recommend this anthology. If you own the other offerings in the Wicked series, Wicked Haunted is a must have. If you have not read any of the other offerings, there is no better place to start.