October Dreams

29 Oct

Looking for something to read over the Halloween season? Then look no further than October Dreams, by some distance the most impressive Halloween-themed anthology that I’ve ever read (and believe me, I’ve read a lot of them!). Full of classic novellas, never-before-published short stories, essays on the history, literature and films of Halloween – and favourite real-life memories of the holiday – all from the world’s foremost practitioners of fear, including Dean Koontz, Peter Straub, Ray Bradbury, Tim Lebbon, Richard Laymon and Ramsey Campbell. This isn’t just a good read, it’s also a collector’s item.

What I particularly like about this award-winning celebration of Halloween is the fact that most of the stellar line-up of authors contribute both a story and a “Favorite Memory”. These are often potent snippets of childhood epiphanies (Elizabeth Engstrom remembers being abandoned, and growing up, one Halloween night in a junkyard filled with rats; Douglas Clegg recalls seeing, at age four, a witch fly across the face of the moon etc.) that will bring back to every reader the autumnal magic of All Hallow’s Eve. As if that were not enough, October Dreams (which weighs in at almost 650 pages) also contains an informative “Short History of Halloween”, a well-chosen “Overview of Halloween Films” and an equally useful “Reader’s Guide to Halloween Fiction”.

This is a collection to savour and is the perfect book to pick up and put down as the mood suits you. The volume mixes a generous amount of well-written new fiction with classic reprints and I must commend the editors on the quality and consistency of what they have included. Ray Bradbury, that ‘October Dreamer Extraordinaire’ to whom the volume is rightfully dedicated, contributes the powerful Heavy Set but this is not the only standout contribution. There is Dean Koontz’s creepy opener The Black Pumpkin, Simon Clark’s memorably evocative The Whitby Experience, and perhaps the most frightening of the bunch, Douglas E Winter’s Masks. But since the index alone is three pages long I’m not going to review, or even mention, each individual story. Instead, I’d recommend that, like me, you sample as much of this treasure chest of a book as possible, finding your own favourite story or Halloween memory along the way.

Happy Halloween!

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3 Responses to “October Dreams”

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  1. Happy Halloween! « Ghost Cities - October 31, 2012

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