A Literary review – Tales From the Lake Volume 4 – a Crystal Lake Publishing

Tales from the Lake vol 4 - small

At first glimpse of Tales from the Lake Vol 4 authors, it would be easy to see how Ben Eads placed all these authors under one roof for this explosive anthology, but after three stories to four stories in I was wrong… it was something more.

After sinking my teeth into the fourth tale, when boredom is my middle name, I did something I had never done before – I started from the beginning.

Tales from the Lake Vol 4 represents the best of 2017’s already risen Indie horror authors.

When the Dead Come Home by Jennifer Loring, was the first tale in the anthology which is reminiscent of Roman Polanski’s Repulsion, one of my favourite movies. The tale is incredibly bleak and well worth the read.

The Folding Man by Joe R. Lansdale: The Folding Man, as Crystal Lake stated, is perhaps Landsdale’s darkest tale, and it certainly delivers on all accounts. God only knows why more film makers have not adapted more of Landsdale’s work. Landsdale always takes the crown as Horrors very own survivalist, King. Most readers will be aware that this tale is an older reprint of this awesome horror story.

Whenever You Exhale, I Inhale by Max Booth: This is a “one of a kind”, and tells the tale of homophobic love between two young boys and the effect it has on one of the leads dad. The tale is enthralling, and had an essence of the early work of notorious film maker, Larry Clarke, with the utmost despair.

Go Warily After Dark, by Kealan Patrick Burke: This story displays phenomenal writing. Burke literally, with ease, places the reader inside the heads. As we begin to slowly feel the maddening horrors of the inner and exterior horror of war.

To the Hills, by T. E. Grau: Uses the end of the world as its main card trick. Grau is willing and able to make the genre very much his own.

Everything Hurts, Until It Doesn’t, by Damien Angelica Walters: Incredibly weird, and at times, possibly the best body horror story I’ve read in years. I found myself itching my skin… it was flawless and the execution was perfect.

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Drowning in Sorrow, by Sheldon Higdon: Sheldon is a writer I had never heard of before, so I was eager to read what he had to offer. His use of well-rounded characters makes him an authority on how to develop characters within the fiction world. Beautifully written and a stand-out tale in this precious anthology.

The Withering, by Bruce Golden: Golden uses my favorite theme – the imagination, in the idea that thought is deed the concept felt considerably new and golden weaves something anew.

Grave Secrets, by JG Flaherty: Every horror anthology needs some Lovecraftian loving, and that is just what Grave Secrets is. Using illusions and otherworldly forces to give this story something very existential. The writing is impeccable and is also a stand-out short tale on how to write the perfect horror story. Rocky point will never leave me.

The End of the Hall, by Hunter Liguore: What is a horror anthology without a haunted house story? Hunter understands the importance of the genre giving it a heart warming feel from start to finish.

Snowmen, by David Dunwoody: David seems to be writing on a level like no other. Bordering into dark fantasy, one comes away feeling a sense of yearning. After indulging the Snowmen, David Dunwoody’s other works will be on my reading list.

Pieces of Me, by T. G. Arsenault: This was another great piece for me. The forest, which it is set bares a remarkable resemblance to Japans very own suicide forest. The ending isn’t for most readers, making the story definitely not for the weak willed.

Neighborhood Watchers, by Maria Alexander: Maria resonates a familiar troupe for many of us who live in the suburbs, and at times the tale itself reminds one of an almost missing Robert Bloch tale – although most writers take it on themselves to write about esoteric and spooky occult themes, most if not all never really touch the truth on these matters. Maria seems to have a knack for making it seem real to the reader, and besides, everybody needs a Halloween tale in a horror anthology. Papa Legba, we praise you!

The Story of Jessie and Me, by Michael Johnson: Michael’s tale uses the apocalyptic genre with one key ingredient… “hope”. Making use of these themes, all the more allowing the reader to be hooked. Michael carefully caresses the human spirit throughout the story, allowing the tale to be inspirational by teaching us, as humans, no matter the odds waged against us we must always remain with a level of balance.

I Will Be The Reflection Until The End, by Michael Bailey: Every so often the world is adorned with an old soul, and in turn, the world gains in the process. This makes the old soul somewhat of a higher nature, but is in constant purgatory due to its own surroundings – never truly developing and showing the many flaws of mankind’s fundamental lack to evolve. Whilst reading, I kept reminding myself of the quote: “Man kills everything”.

The Honeymoon’s Over, by E. E. King: “Sadness” is what I came away with in this story, and for Ben Eads’s wise placement of the story, The Honeymoon’s Over resonated some deep feelings for me. It’s beautifully written with a unique passion that is seldom seen in most horror that becomes actually quite scary.

Song in a Sundress, by Darren Speegle: It would be a bad thing if one reviews this anthology and allows the usual typecasting entrapment. like so many stories in Tales from the Lake Vol 4, Song in Sundress is something special, and is actually quite frightening.

Weighing In, by Cynthia Ward: This is a fine read, and is actually quite fun! It allows the reader to feel that the situation is unescapable . The surroundings and the world Cynthia creates make the tale feel quite dangerous and entertaining.

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Other stories include:

Reliving the Past, by Michael Haynes: A quite scary tale which comes highly recommended. The long haul by Leigh M. Lane, like so many of the tales in this volume, depressing entry and in the end once again I wanted more.

Dust Devils, by Mark Cassell: Soon as I heard the title “Dust Devils”, I randomly thought of the epic South African horror movie Dust Devil, directed by Richard Stanley, who is a close contact of myself and my wife and you know what they say about assumption. Dust Devils is cracking with imagination and a unique construction within the horror realm. A perfect Lovecraftian mythos overtures, and a strange feeling that higher forces are just waiting when any of us human strive to obtain forbidden knowledge or leave the front door so to speak.

Liminality, by Del Howison. Howison shows us and allows us to feel the power of ego and to reevaluate the power of pride allowing us to reflect inwards on such familiar themes we face. in “The Gardener” by Gene O’Neill. A shattering portrayal of childhood kidulthood and adulthood with very unexpected outcomes.

The last tale:

Condo by the Lake, by Jeff Cercone: Yet another sad piece spliced with horror. Possibly another standout alongside Everything Hurts, Until It Doesn’t, by Damien Angelica Walters. Pieces of Me, by T. G. Arsenault and Go Warily After Dark by Kealan Patrick Burke.

The large page count was difficult to get through, and at times I binged like an addict on two to three stories at a time.

Ben Eads certainly knows what he’s looking for when putting this anthology together. Resulting in no filler stories – making the collection fresh and unique, and something very different from Crystal Lake. The only downfall being… it would have been a joy to read something from an unknown author, as all these authors I later learned are highly skilled in the world of horror fiction, and this can be felt even more so after reading the volume.

There really seems to be no theme other than the “negatives of life”, which makes the horror far more profound helping to deliver a collection that is both diverse and fresh. Each tale here has something for everybody.

I highly recommend you order yourself a copy and be prepared to yearn and be horrified.

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