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A subject I have always been fascinated by--Jack the Ripper. Draven has taken the Whitechapel murders of 1888 with locations, dates, and victim names intact and retold the story from the killer's point of view. The killer gets a rush from killing and shows no remorse for his actions. It's an interesting and engaging story that gives a unique explanation for why the murders stop so suddenly and why the Ripper was never caught.
This riveting and frightening story is based on true events in which a sadistic criminal kidnaps two teenage girls. This man has to be one of the most evil characters I have ever read. The things he does to these poor girls are unspeakable and what makes it all the more disturbing is that something like this could--and evidently did--really happen. Not for the faint-hearted, Merciless keeps you on the edge of your seat and leaves you praying for the girls to survive.
Sugar Skull--Jessica Lynne Gardner
Being a history buff, the Aztec civilization has always held a great interest for me. Sugar Skull is the story of a family secret entwined in the trappings of an ancient Aztec curse. The story has a mystical feel...kind of like a voodoo curse story (The Serpent and the Rainbow comes to mind). I really enjoyed the emergence of the story behind the ancient curse and there are some genuinely creepy parts too.
Creeping Shadows is a trilogy of novellas definitely worth reading, especially if you like a good scary story. This is a book to pull out every Halloween!
Alan Draven's "Vengeance is Mine" begins Creeping Shadows by taking the reader back in time to Whitechaple London, 1888 where Jack the Ripper terrorizes the streets by night. Draven allows Jack to narrate the tale, giving the story a demented edge that keeps readers immersed in the aura of horror. As the story continues, a supernatural element takes over when one of Jack's victims rises from her grave seeking revenge. The hunter has become the hunted.
The writing is tight. The characterization is well rendered and although Jack is most certainly not a likable protagonist, he is nevertheless a unique, fully fleshed entity that simultaneously intrigues and repulses readers. Well done.
The second story, Brandon Ford's "Merciless" jumps into the present as a madman captures, rapes, and holds two teenage girls hostage. As the story continues, the girls form a bond in their darkest hours. This story is the most disturbing and well rendered offering in Creeping Shadows, weighing in as my personal favourite.
The wonderful characterization of both the victims and the villain give the entire tale a deeply emotional dimension, allowing the tale to go beyond horror into the realm of disturbing. The action never lags, and the writing remains tight, gritty, and descriptive.
The third and final tale is Jessica Lynne Gardner's "Sugar Skull" which captures the horror of the past and predicts future terrors. When Annabel Perez discovers that an ancient Aztec curse has come to life and is murdering her family members she must engage in a battle against time to save her family before the curse comes to fruition. The characterization is compelling and the writing is strong, yet the story lags several times, needing more action and more vivid depiction of the past events that elicited the curse. Nevertheless, "Sugar Skull" ends with a bang, satisfying the reader and ending the compilation on a chilling note.
Overall, Creeping Shadows proves an enjoyable anthology. The stories are unique, well developed, and haunting. Readers will be compelled to stay up all night, immersed in the horror of this macabre offering. Highly recommended.
All three stories are excellent, though if I had to pick a favorite, I'd have to go with Ford's nonstop, brutal 'Merciless.' Draven's Ripper tale comes with a unique, and haunting, twist and, like Ford's story of two girls kidnapped and repeatedly assaulted by a drunken sociopath, is completely suited to the novella format. Gardner's Sugar Skull, while entertaining as a novella, is based on a premise (a string of murders related to the Mexican Day of the Dead) that really would have worked better as a standalone novel.
The book's a solid 4/5. You can read my interview with the authors at lincolncrisler.info/?p=855