Book Title: Tales from the Canyons of the Damned: No. 33
Editor: Jessica West
Publication Date: May 15, 2019
Available on: Amazon as an eBook and as a paperback
Indie Athenaeum Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars
In this thirty-third issue of Canyons, we get four short stories that present tantalizing mysteries that grab at your mind and trigger terror with the tales they tell. From stories about unusual babies, time travel, serial killers and bounty hunters, this issue has a wide variety of tales that will enthrall you, starting with:
Molly Thynes’ “Auntie_lena314” – Lena is a teenager whose sister Nan just gave birth to a new baby, Henry. Recording videos for her channel, she documents how Henry isn’t an ordinary baby, crying nonstop. Somehow, Nan’s mental and physical health slowly declines, and she blames Henry for this! How will Lena handle the situation?
This story terrified me down to my bones and made me imagine how I would feel if my children were babies and were living out the scenario depicted here. It made feel really ill and even queasy by the end, but its gripping premise kept me wondering what would happen to Lena and Henry.
Barry Charman’s “A Wonder Made of Skulls” – Judd lives in a world where time-travel is widespread and as easy as pressing a button. To society at large, it has become mundane and even boring, commercialized to the point of tedium. As Judd wonders about how the world became this way, he’s shaken out of his boredom by something out of the ordinary. But what is it?
This is a fantastic and original take on the concept of time travel which was really fascinating. How it was used and how it impacted Judd, his ruminations on his past and interacted with the time periods he visited all were perfectly intertwined. It made for compelling reading, especially after I discovered what happened to him by the end, which gave me the shivers.
Jason LaVelle’s “Masks” – A serial killer meticulously makes face masks of those that they kill, sculping them out of plaster. Jessica is a reporter pursuing author interviews with some big names and finds out some scoop about a reclusive author coming to Florida. Will she get the interview? And how does the serial killer tie into all of this?
When the big twist is revealed, it is both shocking and surprising. And the brutality of the violence and the tenderness of making face masks provide a duality to the tale that is poetic. The author also savors the exquisite details of the story both large and small, from the process of making masks to the smell of newsprint and paper. This immersive and involving storytelling sent chills down my spine and mesmerized me right from the beginning all the way through to the unpredictable ending.
Daniel Arthur Smith’s “Off-World Kick Murder Squad VI” – Quickly flying away from the Syndicate prison from which they liberated their prize, the squad is on the run from their pursuers! As they’re fleeing, they start to wonder why Cerulean Blue, the reason for their mission, was imprisoned and why he’s so valuable.
The last episode of this serial was in “Tales from the Canyons of the Damned: No. 25” so I was glad to see it return here. I enjoyed the deeper background I was given as I learned more about Cerulean Blue and the Spectral Shift universe he inhabits. The mystery behind their mission gets intriguingly deeper here and the twists that threaten their ability to complete this difficult task gets more complex. I continue to long for more of this serialized story.
I’ve read all the issues in the “Tales of the Canyons of the Damned” series to date and I continue to discover tales from new authors I’ve never read before as well as stories by authors I continue to enjoy. In this issue, two of the authors, Molly Thynes and Barry Charman, are new to me and it’s easy for me to see why their stories were chosen for publication in this issue. Of course, Jason LaVelle and Daniel Arthur Smith continue to present stories that amaze and satisfy me. It’s another wonderful short story collection that I look forward to reading whenever a new issue in this series is published.
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