Turn down the lights, Edited by Richard Chizmar. Book review

chizmar17aTURN DOWN THE LIGHTS, Edited by Richard Chizmar, Cemetery Dance 2014, Hardcover 176 pages $ 35.00

Reviewed by Mario Guslandi

To celebrate the 25th anniversary of the birth of his brainchild,  the famous Cemetery Dance magazine, Richard Chizmar has assembled an anthology of brand new stories penned by some of his favorite authors  who contributed to the magazine in the past. Unfortunately gratitude is not always rewarded, at least if we have to judge by the content of the volume.

What I mean to say is that the book includes some great stories (that I’ll mention in a minute) but also some inferior material unequal to  this reviewer’s  expectations. A few contributors appear definitely uninspired and seem to have sent in a story just to meet an obligation. The tales by the likes of Norman Partridge, Ronald Kelly, Steve Rasnic Tem and Peter Straub , clever as they may be, just didn’t work at all for me.  As for Clive Barker’s “Dollie” , a  short, darkly humorous fable,  that’s  fair enough ,but certainly  not up to the author’s  usual level.

Thanks God some authors did respond to Chizmar’s invitation with very good material, which  fully justifies the price of the book.

Stephen King contributes “Summer Thunder” a sad, tragic tale of loneliness and death, set in the post-apocalyptic atmosphere of a nuclear disaster. Another winner is “Flying Solo”, proving once again what a terrific storyteller Ed Gorman is. The story describes how two old men fighting against cancer fix a bunch of bad guys mistreating some of the Oncology Section nurses.

Brian James Freeman pens the excellent  “An Instant Eternity”, a tense and intense piece where a photographer toys with death to save a little girl from a very dangerous situation, while Jack Ketchum provides “The Western Dead” , an entertaining zombie western served with a touch of Egyptian history, and Bentley Little offers “In the Room”, an offbeat, enigmatic tale depicting the mysterious side of life.

Long live Cemetery Dance!