Insanity Tales, published by Books and Boos Press, is an anthology containing 9 stories from five horror authors based in New England who all belong to the same writing collective.  Each of the authors have been published prior to Insanity Tales with the most notable, Stacey Longo also editing the anthology.  Four of the authors have provided two stories each for the anthology with one submitting a short novella.

David Daniel’s stories are ‘Memory Unit’, and ‘Scalper’.  ‘Memory Unit’ is about an old woman recounting a love affair when she was younger which ended in betrayal.  She has memory issues and we are unsure what to make of her recalling the deaths of several women after her lover had left her.  The writing in the story was sound and the tale enjoyable, but I thought it a weak choice to open the anthology.  Daniel’s other story, ‘Scalper’, would have been a much better opener, though the ending of the tale was not much of a surprise.  In ‘Scalper’ we meet a man who purchases tickets for sporting events through a scalper.  Eventually the scalper suggests tickets to events that are not only illegal, but dangerous.  I admit to feeling chills more than a few times while reading ‘Scalper’.

Ursula Wong contributed, ‘Dark Water’, and ‘Never Alone’.   Both stories were very entertaining with Dark Water the more entertaining of the two for me.  ‘Dark Water’ is about a woman who was once raped and still suffers emotionally from the act, who is cajoled into going on vacation to a tropical island with three other friends.  At the hotel they learn of an abandoned pool, a pool that may be haunted.  Turns out that it is.  ‘Never Alone’ is a quiet tale of horror about a young boy who has died and does not realize it, at first anyway.  Then he discovers that being a ghost is awfully lonely.

Dale Phillips two stories are ‘Jack-o-Lantern’ and ‘Chupacabra Moon’.  ‘Jack-o-Lantern’ is a tale of a young girl who moves to Iowa and has difficulty fitting in with the other students of her school.   One day she finds a scarecrow in a field and discovers that the scarecrow is actually a dead man.  When she brings her Dad to the discovery the next day, there is no dead man, only a real scarecrow.  What will the young girl do now?  In ‘Chupacabra Moon’ a very lonely woman with a horrible facial scar meets a man who’s intentions seem honorable and he is not bothered by her disfigurement.  They get married but instead of a honeymoon they have to go to a Mexican village so her husband can do some work.  It is there that the woman discovers the man she married is not so honorable.  I admit to enjoying ‘Chupacarbra  Moon’ much more than ‘Jack-o-Lantern’, though I thought both of them somewhat predicable.

My favorite stories in the anthology belong to Stacey Longo and Vlad V.  Both of Longo’s tales read fresh, and both stayed with me after finishing the book.  ‘Old Man’s Winter’ is a genuinely creepy tale about a real ole fashioned, son-of-a-bitch’s life story that was so well written that the character’s evil seemed to seep out from the pages and stick to my fingers.  This characters hate filled life had me so riled up that I had to put the book down after reading this tale to calm down. Her other tale, ‘Color Him Crazy’ was an off kilter story about a man who is attending the murder trial of his sister.  The man begins to wonder if insanity runs in his family.  ‘Color Him Crazy’ is chock full of black humor and takes many unsuspecting turns (once again I’ll state that that Stacey Longo is the female equivalent of Jeff Strand).  I thought Vlad V.’s novella, ‘The Sleep Artist’, about an old woman acting as an exorcist of sorts trying to defeat a demon residing in a very young child was one of the highlights of the anthology.  ‘The Sleep Artist’ is not your standard exorcist tale, in fact, the way the woman attempts to banish the demon was quite unusual, and I found myself totally involved in the story.

I found Insanity Tales very much to my liking.  I enjoyed all of the tales but Longo’s and Vlad V.’s stories alone make this anthology a must have.  If you’re still on the fence on this one, the introduction by Jonathan Maberry should be enough to push you over.  Insanity Tales comes highly recommended.

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