- File Size: 2026 KB
- Print Length: 412 pages
- Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
- Publisher: Crystal Lake Publishing (March 2, 2018)
- Publication Date: March 2, 2018
- Sold by: Amazon.com Services LLC
- Language: English
- ASIN: B07B2MYC89
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Lending: Enabled
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,378,503 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
Frozen Shadows: And Other Chilling Stories Kindle Edition
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"Gene O'Neill's greatest strength is that he writes for, and about, the common man. There are no all-powerful superheroes in his fiction; no stereotypical movie star macho men kicking unrealistic ass in his work. No, he simply writes about people - real people - men and women down on their luck who have flaws and addictions, or struggle with money problems and relationships, and all the other worries and hardships that plague much of society. Sometimes his characters find the redemption they so richly deserve, and then again sometimes they don't, but Gene gives us a realistic (sometimes horrific) glimpse into their struggles and their desperate fight to keep their heads above water. If you want superheroes, go grab a comic book. If you want stories about the best and worst inside all of us, read Gene O'Neill." - Gord Rollo, author of The Jigsaw Man and The Translators
"Gene O'Neill's stories are consistently well-executed. He writes with authority, depth, and loads of worldly and writerly experience, and delivers fascinating stuff." - Darren Speegle, author of The Third Twin and Varying Distances
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So of course when Crystal Lake Publishing announced a new anthology, I jumped right in and ordered it. As usual, Gene doesn’t disappoint.
One of the great things about Gene is that he knows how to create believable characters, without a lot of unnecessary “fluff”. He puts them in realistic situations, until it’s time not to be; and you never see that time coming.
There were a few stories in this volume that I have read before – but they were so good, I went ahead and reread them; and if you know anything about me, you know my TBR pile is way too large to waste time rereading – unless it’s someone like Gene.
I’m not going to rehash the stories in order to not ruin the beauty of the work. But I will point out my favorites, starting with the opening novella: Frozen Shadows. Wow, what a way to start a collection. It’s written almost like a biography. In fact, I’m not too certain it wasn’t.
The second story holds a very, very special place in my collection and heart. It’s the first story I ever read of Gene’s, and I have it in a limited edition, signed, chapbook. That would be The Algernon Effect. Check out my review at your leisure. I could reread this story and never tire of it.
Lastly, the final novella - At the Lazy K. Gene creates a superior ghost story here. This was a great, and terrifying, way to end the collection.
Just because I didn’t mention the other stories, doesn’t mean they aren’t as good – they most certainly are, and you’d be doing yourself a disservice if you don’t pick up something (if not this book) by Gene. You’ll be hooked.
All’s fine until Mr. Black moves into town. He’s a rather strange man who keeps to himself. It seems odd that suddenly children have taken ill since his arrival. So, Sean and his friends decide to keep an eye on Black what they discover is both frightening and beyond belief!
At The Lazy K is a haunting tale of revenge that takes down the Tarkenton family and all their heirs. It all starts in the early 1900s when an employee of the ranch is falsely accused of stealing. The man’s wife who is of gypsy blood places a curse on the family name and ranch after they hang her husband.
We find nothing but misfortune plagues the family and all those associated with the ranch throughout the years.
Fast forward to 2012 and the curse is still active keeping those with the Tarkenton name from ever regaining the wealth and prestige they once held. Kathleen Tarkenton is now the last of those who hold the cursed name she’s heard the stories but of course, places no stock in them. A recovering alcoholic, she opens a rehab center at the site of the old Lazy K. You can imagine what a mistake this is!
The rest of the included stories range from the weird to the downright creepy. I can honestly say, I didn’t find one that I didn’t like. As a side note, I would like to mention that the brilliant cover art was done by Ben Baldwin.
The forward gives a nice idea of what the reader is in for. Eight short stories, bookended by two novellas, all somehow linked. As I write my reviews as I read, I am licking my chops to get started.
The first book end novella, Frozen Shadows, is one I have either read somewhere before or reminiscent of a story by another author. Reminiscent does not mean the same. A tantalizing little story short on words, long on horror. And just when you think it's over, you can let out your held breath, you read the last words. You know you're in the hands of a master story teller when the short hairs on your neck stand straight up along with those on your arms, you sharply inhale, and look around to ensure you aren't in the light of a full moon. (Personally, the fourth Nor'Easter in four weeks is headed our way, so no moon tonight!)
The Algernon Effect
A mostly sweet story with a middle you see coming. The ending, however...
Transformations at the Inn of the Golden Pheasant
This one is, unfortunately, foreseeable. Doesn't make it any less horrorifing.
On the Right Side of the Road
An ex-con starts having Visual Migraine Effects. Not being able to afford the medication prescribed, weird, really weird happenings ensue. Totally unforseen ending. Loved it!
Black Tar/Read Alien
Whoa. Completely different type of story. Very good!
Barely into this story, I have to say the descriptive prose has you THERE. In San Francisco's Tenderloin district. The last place, if you are reading, you really need to be, but you want to be part of nonetheless.
This is a sad story, full of unrealized potential. The ending is truly unforeseen.
The Shaking Man
I won't say much more, halfway through, but this is a seriously sad story that is far too common, especially for young men of color. I am sure I will continue to feel this way, no matter the outcome. We'll see.
Nope, not a sad ending at all.
Wow. This is actually more sci-fi than horror, but it's a very close call. Yes, it is a wow story.
A Faint Scent of Musky Lime
Another story opposite to the one before it. Only a lot more horror than sci-fi. An eggplant sandwich on flatbread almost made me ill thinking about it. Then I realized...read it and you'll understand.
At the Lazy K
The ending novella. The other bookend.
This story is most likely one of the best ghost/horror stories I have read on years. I say this only a third of the way through. Delicious!
I do wonder how many people truly DO keep a particular object on their nightstand. Mine has too many Kindles (four - my fifth needs a new power port) and honest to gosh real books that my lamp is on a table behind my nightstand. I have to keep that table fairly clear, as that is one of four places the cats have their water. You decide if this object is poetic license, so to speak.
Review As a Whole
All in all, this is a thoroughly captivating book. As the forward states, eight very good (excellent) short stories with novellas bookending the lot. They do have links to each other; this is not a hastily thrown together book of shorts.
Although I am usually not a fan of short stories, these are definitely different. I do hope I am a perceptive reader, because I certainly want to read more from this author. He never flinches.
This is a highly recommended book, not only by myself, but Joe Mynhardt, who has never led me astray in his recommendations.