Spooky Showcase

Spooky Showcase is a collection of stories by Alan Draven, and if you’ve read and liked his Bitternest books this collection will be a real treat for you as all but one of the stories takes place in Bitternest, Louisiana. It’s a city that Mr. Draven has woven into a dark and mysterious place, where at any corner the reader can be met by things that are strange and usually horrifying. The only story that doesn’t take place in Bitternest is the gruesome tale of Jack the Ripper, and it’s not for the feint of heart, but for the rest of us it’s a fantastic tale of terror and gore. I’ll just go over the stories one at a time and give my take on them.

The Paradigm is a novella length detective story. You know the type. Good looking girl goes to private eye, bats her eyelashes and says she’s in mortal danger and needs his help. He calmly listens to her, offers her a drink, maybe a light. Yeah, it starts out something like that, but this is Bitternest and that’s where the normal detective story ends. A case where a man is assaulted, and the client says she figured him for dead quickly leads Detective Jim Coffin on a strange case that goes deep into the realm of paranormal. It’s all fine with Coffin though because that’s just what’s to be expected in Bitternest, Louisiana. If you like mystery, suspense, action, and a good detective story then this is one you’ll want to read.

Beyond the Doomed Cave is the short story of three kids who have the option of facing a local legend of horror or get beaten up by the neighborhood gang. Since it’s only a legend they take the lesser of two evils and hide in the cave. Unfortunately the lesser of two evils soon turns out to be the greater of the two evils as the kids find out there’s a lot of truth to local legends in Bitternest, but local lore lacks the twist that reality bestows upon the legend. Beyond the Doomed Cave was a great little ghost story with a bit of a twist that should surprise any reader.

The Rattling Man’s a Halloween short story. It’s October 31st and Dylan is all excited about trick or treating, but that changes when his friends tell him of the Rattling man, who comes out on Halloween night just to murder children. Dylan’s young and easily influenced so he wants to forgo the holiday until his dad eases his fears, letting him know that there’s no such thing as a Rattling Man – but sometimes parents are wrong, and in Bitternest anything is possible. The Rattling Man was a creepy Halloween story and once again Mr. Draven gives his story a twist that should be a surprise to any reader.

A Madman’s Atonement is the story of a serial killer. The city of Bitternest is in an uproar about a killer in their town. It’s making the papers, but that’s okay, because that’s the sort of glory the killer is looking for. Nobody knows who it is, but when Jimmy has a run in with a man who runs away leaving blood on his clothes he begins to suspect that he’s found the lunatic. It’s all speculation though as he has no hard evidence, but that soon changes, and once again Mr. Draven gives a little twist to the story and the reader who thought he knew everything suddenly realizes that it’s all smoke and mirrors.

Vengeance is Mine is the only story that doesn’t take place in Bitternest, and at first I figured it was an oddball that wouldn’t fit with the rest of the book. I was wrong. Vengeance is Mine is a great story about Jack the Ripper. Mr. Draven shows what a beast the man was. He brings forth the mans gruesome lust for blood, and fame. He shows his cunning, and how such violence can become a lust for more violence and depravity. On top of that Mr. Draven also brings in a bit of the paranormal, giving the reader a plausible reason why the killings suddenly stopped and the culprit was never captured. This is an awesome story, but it’s not for anyone who’s squeamish about blood, gore, and an organ or two.

One final thing I liked about Mr. Draven’s stories is that each and every one tends to surprise the reader. Just when you think you’ve got the plot pegged he takes you in a different direction, but it’s not the cheesy sort of smoke and mirrors. No, Mr. Draven does it with style and makes the impossible plausible. If you’re looking for some creepy stories, and maybe a bit of gore, action, suspense, and a surprise or two this is probably the book you’re looking for.

Plague, is now available as a paperback novel. Yep, paperback. Also with the paperback version you get some fantastic pen and ink artwork by Alex McVey, Tom Moran, Brandon Layng, and myself. So if you get a chance stop by Amazon and have a look.

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~ by bretjordan on November 15, 2012.

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