Darkness Echoesby L.A. Starkey, Kelly Hall, D.E.L. Connor, Chess Desalls, C.K. Dawn, D.B. Nielsen
5 out of 5
Six spooky never before seen YA short stories just in time for Halloween!
Til Death Do Us Part by L.A. Starkey - Jennifer and Zach have been best friends since birth, but as their senior year approaches, things change drastically. With little time left to reveal her heart before college, Jen plans a night to remember at the old haunted Vandercamp Mansion for Zach's birthday. It's just to be the two of them, and no one was to know, but upon arrival, they realize that their presence was expected. Their connection is forged as realization of their past is granted. A love that stands outside of time and space will not rest - Til Death Do Us Part.
Witch Moth by Kelly Hall - Dominic Dane has endured his sister Dahlia's evil deeds for decades while the two serve out their hundred year punishment, but when she threatens to use his new-found crush as her Halloween sacrifice, he realizes she'll never change. Promising Kitty he will stop at nothing to save her and her friends, Dominic is forced to explain his curse, revealing it's not just Dahlia who must kill to survive.
The Coming of the Skin Walker by D.E.L. Connor - When warriors Walking Bear and Nine Fingers rescue amnesia-ridden Lina from the clutches of the immortal Skin Walker they must flee on a harrowing journey where ancient Native American secrets and mysticism unfold, innocence is lost, and the forever bonds of love and friendship are tested.
Lantern by Chess Desalls - Five days before Halloween, all sixteen-year-old Tori has on her mind is vacationing with her family and scoring lots of candy. Her grandmother's estate, with its Gothic spires and trails that lead out to the woods, holds an unexpected secret: a lantern that lights up for Tori and nobody else. Certain that it's a ghost or a prank, she investigates further and discovers a mysterious life that shines in the darkness.
Cloak of Echoes by CK Dawn - Just as Emma Kincaid came into some disturbing empathic powers, she lost her mother in a car crash. She is also pretty certain she's being followed, maybe even hunted. But, is it the shadowy creatures that haunt her nightmares or the mysterious guy, shrouded in darkness, who just enrolled at Jefferson High?
Hallowed Eve by DB Nielsen - Ten years after the sinister disappearance of her father, the turmoil begins again with the stealing of souls ... Seventeen-year-old Evee is forced to accept her birthright of dark secrets and death as she inherits the role of Soul Guardian; a role that brings her into the dangerous influence of a coven of witches and the enigmatic, alluring Hunter, Ben, to defeat the rise of dark magick.
These stories have never been published before and were written specifically for this anthology. Hope you enjoy this spooky adventure!!
This is a perfect October read, and I have definitely enjoyed, curling up with a warm blanket and glass of wine this week. I'm not used to reading short story collections, so forgive me if this is a little long-winded!
Til Death Do Us Part by L.A. Starkey
Jennifer is trying to get her life in order, putting her arrogant boyfriend in place, and telling her best friend Zach how she truly feels about him.
I loved this, it was such a strong opening piece.
It has a perfect balance of high school drama, infused with the obsession Jennifer has with the local ruined mansion house. The threat of ghosts makes it an increasingly spooky story; and I absolutely loved the psychological developments.
I also like that, although I guessed one twist a couple of pages in, there was a second that I did not see coming! But it worked fantastically. I don't actually want to say any more on the subject, because it is so worth finding out for yourselves!
Best Spooky Story
Witch Moth by Kelly Hall
Kitty is having to re-evaluate her friendships, as her two best friends betray her. But into this space, the mysterious Dahlia and Dominic make an immediate impression.
Another winner, as you slowly uncover the truth of the beautiful, but long-living siblings.
It beautifully portrays the relationships of the five main characters. I thought Dahlia was a particularly interesting character, and how most of her actions seemed driven by jealousy, or supposed revenge. It was amazing how real these characters were in such a short story.
I also loved the creativity of Dahlia and Dominic's story, and how it all comes to a conclusion... I might just go read it again.
The Coming of the Skin Walker by D.E.L. Connor
Fate brings Walking Bear and the beautiful Lina together, and they must fight an invincible enemy, and risk their clan, to stay together.
This was... the story that didn't fit seamlessly with the others. It's good, it just stands out as the least spooky, and not in the modern YA setting.
I believe it's a sequel to Connor's Spirit Warriors series, and it felt like it.
Walking Bear comes across Lina on a hunting trip, and it is love at first sight. But Lina is being chased by a Skin Walker, a monster that kills and is practically invincible. Lina has lost her memory, but she is convinced that any danger will follow her and she cannot lead it back to Walking Bear's tribe. Except when they suddenly change their minds and go back.
This is the only story in the collection that feels like a short story, somewhat rushed, with a change of heart for no other reason that getting the plot where it needs to be within a certain word-count. I think this, along with overstated love of the couple, made this my least favourite out of the lot.
Lantern by Chess Desalls
While exploring her grandmother's estate, Tori is drawn to a mysterious light that belongs to a forgotten old lantern.
This was so much fun, and so creative!
I loved everything about it. Tori and her family life; Jared; the mystery of the lantern. They all worked together so well.
I will be the first to admit that I struggled to follow the logic and actions of the main character the last time I read Desalls' work - I only bring this up now, because I take my hat off to Ms. Desalls, this all works wonderfully in Lantern.
Tori has such a good relationship with her family, especially her adorable baby brother. But she disobeys her parents, repeatedly visiting the lantern in the middle of the night, as she tries to discover the truth.
She's a really likeable character who only wants to help release the boy trapped in the lantern.
It keeps you guessing throughout, who is the real threat, and why. And it leaves you with just enough questions (like why the grandmother is so supporting of Tori's obsession, and what Manchin is really up to), that Desalls could follow up with a novel, and I would be the first to read!
Cloak of Echoes by CK Dawn
High school is hard enough, but Emma is the freak that is bombarded with the feelings of everyone around her. She didn't ask for this power, and drowns in it every day. Until the mysterious Mattox shows up, an emotional blank on her radar.
This is an accompaniment of Dawn's Netherwalker series, which I have been following. As such, I can only speculate on how easy it is to understand the krims, King Arthur's court, etc.
But for me, this was fun. I was hooked from the first chapter.
I felt so sorry for Emma, struggling with everyone else's high school trauma. You can feel her relief when Mattox promises that he can teach her to control it.
This was also the only story in the YA collection that broaches sexual topics - which I found hilarious, and very suitable for the intended readership, if you're curious.
Hallowed Eve by DB Nielsen
Evee thought that her father was lost to her, when he dies ten years ago. But the souls are restless, when a demonic power rises again.
Evee has the typical troubled teenage life, but suddenly she's dragged into the middle of a fight between witches and a dark force. Evee has to unravel the mystery behind the true story of Sleepy Hollow, and she has to embrace her role as the Soul Guardian.
I thought this was very creative, and I was hooked from the start!
I loved the interactions between Evee and supernatural hunter Ben.
I glossed over some of the denser witchy sections, but I really enjoyed the clashes with the Headless Horseman.
Ok, so that's that. I have to say that each short story left me wanting to know more, to know what happened next!
I would definitely recommend checking out the individual author's works.