“Shades: Eight Tales of Terror” has a classic theme: ghost stories. As the author points out in the introduction, true, good-old-fashioned ghost stories have fallen by the wayside. Now, the horror section is often filled with books about vampires, zombies, and disturbingly creative serial killers—and all of those things are scary. Yet there’s something to be said for the pure fear engendered by a very good ghost story, and in “Shades” you get eight of them.
The themes of the stories range across the board—in “Death and White Satin,” you have a jilted bride’s rage bleeding across into another woman’s wedding to terrifying and macabre effect. A later story, “Dance of the Ancients,” takes a completely different tone and pulls you into a sheriff’s task to serve an eviction notice on crazy Luther Cole, who allegedly wears a dead deer as a grotesque cape—and that’s not the least of the terror on the island where he lives. My favorite story in the anthology, “Legacy of Flies,” turns everyone’s dream of finding out about a rich relative into a thing of horror—because that rich relative was despicable and his descendants have been cursed for all time.
The ghosts in “Shades” are angry and out for vengeance on those who have wronged them; only in the last tale do you get a hint of redemption. There are no benevolent, helpful ghosts in this book, but there is a group of spirits who will stick in your imagination and maybe even leave you afraid to flick off the light switch. The author expertly builds the atmosphere in each tale, with a knack for detail that brings the settings and characters to life. This is a fun, memorable collection full of elements of horror suspense and just enough gore– a fabulous read!