These five tales to chill your bones mightn’t be quite as dark as the Master of Fear’s more recent work, but they’re highly entertaining and a great way to spend an hour.
Addict opens the collection with an interesting second person point of view take on addiction. The focus is sex addiction, and a main character who turns to a hypnosis DVD in order to get help. The specter of addiction and the hold it has over the character is well done, and I’m sure many addicts would rather battle their demons face to face (as in this story) rather than grapple with them internally (as in reality). While I expected this story to have a darker end, I enjoyed it.
In I’m Going to be the Next James Bond, 10 year old Ronnie and 20 of his closest friends explore an abandoned, burned out psychiatric hospital. While the set up of the story is predictable, the ending is so fun and entertaining that it made up for my initial nitpicks.
My favorite story of the collection, In the Lady Ogre’s Den, is about Jason, an autistic boy who ends up in hospital after his school bus is involved in a collision. I loved Jason, and Ungar writes his point of view so well. While this story is about an autistic child, the casual disregard and horrific abuse Jason suffers in hospital brought to mind all too real experiences I know the elderly and those too ill to talk have experienced in hospitals and care homes. It is sickening how people who can’t communicate are often treated so badly by those who should be looking after them.
This story also has a death wolf. As well as being a wolf, he was the kind of snarky, heart of gold, insanely powerful character that I absolutely love! I’d love to read more stories about him, perhaps even an entire novel or two.
The title of The Quiet Game instantly brought to mind the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode, Hush, where creepy black suited dudes render everything and everyone in Sunnydale silent. This story is somewhat similar, except it is a Catholic boarding school for girls that’s given the silent treatment.
I was very disappointed in this story. It’s filled with so many bizarre things that broke my suspension of disbelief. Why was a priest running the school? Why didn’t the girls go on the internet as soon as they realized they couldn’t hear anything? Why were the girls talking to each other naked in the bathroom? Why didn’t the school have an assembly hall? Why was the school lit by candles? How could they possibly have Mass after the priest disappeared?
What could have been an interesting story about abuse and the silence that surrounds it failed to hit the mark for me because of lots of nitpicks about the setting.
The collection closes with Samson Weiss’s Curse, in which a US Senator on the campaign trail experiences some very strange things.
This story was a winner for me because it has a dybbuk in it. However, despite having a great theme about the sins of the father, it felt unfinished. I would love to have known more about Alyssa, and read a more satisfying conclusion to her story.
I award The Quiet Game…