Book Title: Tales from the Canyons of the Damned: No. 37
Authors: Nathan M. Beauchamp, Steve Oden, Sam Osborn & Daniel Arthur Smith
Editor: Jessica West
Publication Date: April 10, 2020
Available on: Amazon as an eBook and a paperback
Indie Athenaeum Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars
In this thirty-seventh issue of Canyons, we several imaginative ideas brought to exciting life here. We have a family struggling with a child’s unusual sickness, sentient toys waging war on entitled children, symbiotic relationships to pets taken to an extreme level, and a local urban legend vividly brought to life. Read on to find out more about:
Nathan M. Beauchamp’s “The Moon Sickness” – Jacob is a teenager whose four-year-old brother Tanner is getting dangerously violent. Their mother seems to know what is going on and is keeping it secret. Trying to talk to their father deployed to Saudi Arabia, Jacob finds out the secret his parents kept from him and now must try to protect his mother from his brother! What will Jacob do to help, and can they all survive?
This is a terrifying and suspenseful tale of an out of control boy who transforms into a grave threat to his family. The family secret kept hidden from the kids is a bombshell that places the entire story in context. Then, it takes the story to the next level with its intensity and wraps it up with a heartbreaking finale.
Steve Oden’s “Blind in Battle” – The Baroness Cadwaller has hired a group of death elves to take out a merciless and wily enemy who continues to thwart their plans. But when their enemy, battle-hardened sentient toys, plan a risky offensive that will put some of their troops at dangerous risk. Will their plan succeed?
It’s “Toy Story” meets “Platoon” in this gritty short story. The toys, Bear, Sock Puppet, Toy Soldier, Fairy Princess, and others use their tactical experience to outwit the enemy children in a battle for supremacy. Using toys to tell a war story is a fascinating one and it is filled with all the tension, suspense, emotion, and action you would find in a war movie.
There are tragedy, twists, camaraderie, and surprises in this one, including an affecting and difficult side mission that made me sad at the horrors of war these forces inflict on one another. We also experience the enemy side of this battle, including the children who hire mercenaries to destroy their enemy.
This is also a sequel to this author’s story “Toys and Monsters” from “Tales of the Canyons of the Damned: No. 36”, the issue that precedes this one. It delightfully expands on the world created in that story and takes it in new and remarkable directions.
Sam Osborn’s “The Rat” – George sees an old flame from long ago, Anne, while shopping at the liquor store. If it wasn’t for the pet rat she keeps on her shoulder, he might not have recognized her. As they catch up, with the possibility of rekindling their relationship, they go back to her place. But something strange is going on here and George cannot pinpoint it. What is going on here?!?
While Anne and George are fleshed out as characters, so is Henry, the titular rat. He is just disgusting and revolting as you think a pet rat would be but not just for those reasons why you would think. The cunning directions this story takes lie in the fact that when you think one thing might be happening, you discover something far more sinister is at work here. It all leads to a chilling ending that explains the reality of the situation and adds all the clues up into one electrifying tale.
Daniel Arthur Smith’s “The Lost Tapes – The Rain Man” – As Agents Muldoon and Meyer look at an unusual case where Dennis’s entire family goes missing in their house by the lake. Interviewing him, they hear his story of driving in the middle of an intense downpour when they hit something man-shaped that appeared out of nowhere! What did they hit and why it is now stalking Mr. Matheson?
This is a dark story oozing with malevolence and effectively building dread as the story advances and the stakes climb. I could also place myself firmly in Dennis’s shoes and experience his feelings of terror as he tries to comprehend the inexplicable circumstances he now faces. It’s a captivating short story that engrossed me in its mysteries and kept me wondering right up until I read its finale.
Three out of the four authors here have contributed to previous issues of Canyons and continue to demonstrate a high caliber of storytelling. The fourth author, Sam Osborn, is new to me but he scores major points with his story. He’s able to demonstrate a new way to make rats even more disturbing and disgusting than they already were.
All these stories make for one tension-filled, frightening, and ultimately unsettling collection of original short stories. Tales from the Canyons of the Damned continues to be the perfect place to discover high-quality storytelling with inspired ideas.
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Previous Indie Athenaeum book reviews about stories written by or published by Daniel Arthur Smith include “Klarissa Dreams Redux“, “Spectral Shift“, “Attack of the Kung Fu Mummies“, “Gazer: A Spectral Worlds Story“, “Tales from the Canyons of the Damned: No. 36, No. 35, No. 34, No. 33, No. 32, No. 31, No. 30, No. 29, No. 28, No. 27, No. 26, No. 25, No. 24, Omnibus 9 & Omnibus 10.”