This is a review of my advanced author’s copy of Vampires, Zombies and Ghosts Volume 1. I won’t be reviewing my own story in this volume (#9, Cold, Cold Summer Night) for the same reasons I’ve never reviewed any of my other stories. I’m biased when it comes to my own stories.
First some short comments about the individual stories, then my overall impression at the end.
1) The Dancer – A short, sweet opening tale of ghostly enchantment, or maybe entrancement. 3 pages, 4 stars.
2) The Quantum Dead – A zombie tale that takes something of a turn about halfway through. Most will catch when the story turns, I think, but some may not. 17 pages, 4.5 stars.
3) Emma – Another ghost tale here, this one also takes a twist in the road. Some confusion is purposely thrown in to hide the twist. 10 pages, 4.5 stars.
4) Who’s the Witch – Bizarre tale of an even more bizarre game show with a particularly macabre ending. 10 pages, 4 stars.
5) Ghost Life – Well told and detailed love story between a ghost and a lonely living person desperate for attention and recognition. 13 pages, 4.5 stars.
6) Musings – Amusing tale of a blocked writer and his somewhat flighty muse on a trip across the southwest US. 11 pages, 4.5 stars.
7) Matchmaker, Matchmaker – An unusual vampire tale with a hard to describe twist in that the motives of the ‘matchmaker’ are never revealed. 13 pages, 4.5 stars.
8) The Unexpected Heir – Another ghostly love story, though not between ghost and mortal. Well told and fun story with a happy ending. 17 pages, 4 stars.
9) Cold, Cold Summer Night – Mine. No review except to say it’s a zombie story. If anyone reading this wants to know how the story came about, you have but to ask. 6 pages.
10) The Phone Call – This one’s hard to quantify. It’s sort of a ghost story with parallel universe overtones. Still a fun and interestingly told read. 11 pages, 4.5 stars.
11) Dentist to the Undead – Strange tale that’s actually, or at least mostly about a normal guy (I think) treating a vampire, though there is mention of zombies and an appearance by a gypsy shape-shifter. Small twist at the end. 8 pages, 4 stars.
12) The Pact – A combo tale of a vampire and a ghoul and a pact they’ve made. It doesn’t end well for either of them, though I’ll let you decide for yourselves who gets the short end of the monster stick. 18 pages, 4 stars.
13) Ghost Writer – It’s exactly what the title implies it is. Rather fun tale of an over–and self–indulgent ghost that screws up his second chance the same way he did his first. 9 pages, 4.5 stars.
14) Lucille – Touching ghost story of an aging and possibly addled woman and her long dead granddaughter. Well told and heartwarming, in an odd way. 7 pages, 5 stars.
15) There’s No Pill for That – A zombie tale involving a disfunctional family and their attempts to find a cure for their zombified offspring. Some morbid humor in this one. 6 pages, 4.5 stars.
A bit longer than the other anthologies I’ve been part of, though only a little, it’s still easily read in less than a day. Probably just a few hours by most people, as long as it catches your interest. And it should. It’s unlikely any of these stories are going to win any awards, but they’re all fun reads in their own ways, and should fit the bill if you’re looking for a short escape from these extremely trying days. 4.5 stars overall.