Once again, let me preface the review by stating that the copy I read was an ARC I received for free for the purpose of reviewing it.
While I enjoyed Dark Screams: Volume Two, I found it a little disjointed. The stories did not mesh with each other as the stories in the first volume did (despite different topics, the tones were similar enough in the first volume that the book seemed more seamless).
The second volume in the series contains five short stories by masters of the horror genre.
“The Deep End” by Robert McCammon was by far my favorite in this volume. The story of a shape-shifting creature living in a community pool, taking small children year after year, is full of tension and genuine fear. There is an undertone of uncertainty as well. Is any of this actually happening or has the protagonist been driven mad with grief?
Norman Prentiss’ “Interval” starts as a heart wrenching tale of loss and grief. The build up of emotions is almost unbearable. When it switches to a different type of story near the midpoint, the result is a totally different story, but one which is equally entertaining. My only complaint is that the end seemed a bit as if it was the set-up for a series of related tales.
“If These Walls Could Talk” is reminiscent of classic people-invited-to-explore-a-haunted-house stories like The Haunting of Hill House and Hell House, but with an ending twist from Mr. Poe. Creepy and fun.
In “The Night Hider,” Graham Masterson poses the question: what if CS Lewis’ Narnia series had a horribly dark inspiration? The answer is a story of revenge and haunting which is fun, but a bit too long.
The only story which I did not particularly care for was the last one, entitled “Whatever.” I am normally a huge fan of Richard Christian Matheson, but this history of a rock band, while intriguing, lacked any genuine scares.