MR. DARK’S CARNIVAL by Glen Hirshberg
Halloween is more than just a holiday in Clarkson, Montana; it’s a tradition passed down through generations. Only this year, the ghosts of the past may just be a little closer than usual.
THE FACTS IN THE CASE OF MY SISTER by Lee Thomas
When David was young, he believed in magic. In fact, he wanted to become a magician himself. But meddling in the forces of the mind has consequences beyond what an eleven-year-old can see.
MISCHIEF NIGHT by Holly Newstein
Cabbage Night, Goose Night, Devil’s Night—they’re all the same. Before the treats come the tricks. It’s all in good fun . . . until someone gets hurt.
THE GHOST MAKER by Del James
When people need to disappear, I make them vanish. The catch? I’ve always got to be on guard—because that knock at the door may not just be a little monster looking for candy.
THE PUMPKIN BOY by Al Sarrantonio
When boys start going missing, Detective Len Schneider is determined to make it right. But his partner knows that there are worse things out there than a dead kid.
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Mr. Dark’s Carnival
“So the first question, really,” I said, leaning on my lectern and looking over the heads of my students at the twilight creeping off the plains into campus, “is, does anyone know anyone who has actually been there?”
Hands went up instantly, as they always do. For a few moments, I let the hands hang in the air, start to wilt under the fluorescent light, while I watched the seniors on the roof of Powell House dorm across the quad drape the traditional black bunting down the side of the building, covering all the windows. By the time I got outside, I knew there would be straw corpses strewn all over campus and papier-mâché skeletons swinging in the trees. Few, if any, of the students who hung them there would have any cognizance of the decidedly sinister historical resonance of their actions.
“Right,” I said, and returned my attention to my freshman seminar on eastern Montana history. It was the one undergraduate class I still taught each year. It was the one class I would never give up. “Primary source accounts only, please.”
“Meaning stuff written at the time?” said the perpetually confused Robert Hayright from the front row.
“That is indeed one correct definition of a primary source, Mr. Hayright. But in this case, I mean only interviews you have conducted or overheard yourself. No stories about third parties.”
Two-thirds of the hands drooped to their respective desktops.
“Right. Let’s eliminate parents and grandparents, now, who, over the centuries, have summoned and employed all sorts of bogeymen to keep their children careful as they exit the safeties of home.”
Most of the rest of the hands went down.
“High school chums, of course, because the whole game in high school, especially Eastern Montana High School, is to have been somewhere your classmates haven’t, isn’t it? To have seen and known the world?”
“I have a question, Professor R.,” said Tricia Corwyn from the front row, crossing her stockinged legs under her silky skirt and pursing her too-red mouth. Around her, helpless freshmen boys squirmed in their seats. The note of flirtation in her tone wasn’t for me, I knew. It was a habit, quite possibly permanent, and it made me sad. It has taken most of a century to excise most of the rote machismo from Montana’s sons. Maybe next century, we can go to work on the scars that machismo has left on its daughters.
“If we eliminate secondhand accounts, parents, and high school friends, who’s left who could tell us about it?”
“My dear,” I said, “you have the makings of a historian. That’s a terrific question.”
I watched Tricia trot out that string of studiously whitened teeth like a row of groomed show horses, and abruptly I stood up straight, allowing myself a single internal head shake. My dear. The most paternalistic and subtle weapon of diminishment in the Montana teacher’s arsenal.
Pushing off the lectern and standing up straight, I said, “In fact, that’s so good a question that I’m going to dodge it for the time being.” A few members of the class were still alert or polite enough to smile. I saw the astonishing white hair of Robin Mills, the Humanities Department secretary, form in the doorway of my classroom like a cumulus cloud, but I ignored her for the time being. “Let me ask this. How many of you know anyone—once again, primary sources only, please—who claims to have worked there?”
This time, a single hand went up. That’s one more than I’d ever had go up before.
“Mr. Hayright?” I said.
“My dog,” he said, and the class exploded into laughter. But Robert Hayright continued. “It’s true.”
“Your dog told you this?”
“My dog Droopy disappeared on Halloween night three years ago. The next morning, a neighbor brought him home and told my dad a man in a clown suit had brought her to their door at six in the morning and said, ‘Thank you for the dog, he’s been at Mr. Dark’s.’”
Mr. Hayright’s classmates erupted again, but I didn’t join them. The clown suit was interesting, I thought. A completely new addition to the myth.
“So, let’s see,” I said gently. “Counting your father, your neighbor, and the clown”—this brought on more laughter, though I was not mocking—“your story is, at best, thirdhand.”
“Not counting the dog,” said Robert Hayright, and he grinned, too. At least this time, I noted, everyone seemed to be laughing with him.
In the doorway, Robin Mills cleared her throat, and her mass of white hair rippled. “Professor Roemer?”
“Surely this can wait, Ms. Mills,” I said.
“Professor, it’s Brian Tidrow.”
I scowled. I couldn’t help it. “Whatever he’s got can definitely wait.”
Instead of speaking, Robin Mills mouthed the rest. She did it three times, although I understood her the second time.
“That f***er,” I muttered, but not quietly enough, and my students stopped laughing and stared. I ignored them.
“Does Kate know?” I asked Robin.
“No one’s seen her yet.”
“Find her. Find her now. Tell her I’ll be there soon.”
For a second, Robin lingered in the doorway. I don’t know if she expected comfort or company or just more reaction, but I wasn’t planning on giving her any. Brian Tidrow was a descendent of a Crow who’d married a white woman, scouted for Custer, and eventually died with him. He was also a third-generation alcoholic, arguably the brightest graduate student I’d ever taught, and almost certainly the one I had enjoyed least. Now he had finally committed the supreme act of havoc-wreaking he’d been threatening for years. He would get no more reaction from me, ever. I glared at Robin until she ducked her head and turned from the door.
“What was that about, Professor R.?” Tricia asked.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
A fantastic collection that is not only superb for Halloween but also recommended for any dark night throughout the year. Some of the names will be familiar while some may be new. But either way, these stories will have your heart racing quicker than a Trick or Treat sugar rush. Indeed this collection is like an end of night candy back on 31st of October. A little something for everybody, Some favourites, some new tastes and some you never thought you'd enjoy until you devoured them.
This was a collection of stories by various authors all taking place at Halloween. The stories vary in nature. They also vary in the audience they are serving and in the quality of the story. Some of them I liked and some of them I didn’t. **I voluntarily read and reviewed this book
This is the second in a series of short story collections to be released in October this year. I previously read the first entry in the series and enjoyed it but overall I think this was an improvement even if it was a little more uneven than the first collection. Small town Montana is the setting for Mr. Dark's Carnival and this ended up becoming one of my favorite short horror stories as I read it. Fantastic atmosphere and dread, I hardly have anything negative to say about it. The Facts In The Case Of My Sister has a very different tone but is no less chilling. It strongly affected me and I found my self thinking about it for a while after finishing it. Centered around the fallout from a prank the night before Halloween, Mischief Night , is brief and somewhat sad. The Ghost Maker was another brief story, this one fairly forgettable. Interesting imagery but didn't leave much of an impression. The Pumpkin Boy was a longer story to close out the collection. It wasn't particularly scary but the portion of the story focused on the police made it interesting. After the first two stories I was ready to rate this 5 but it ended up dropping a bit by the end so I ended up with 4 stars. Well worth reading for the first two stories if nothing else, though all of the stories had something to recommend them. I'd order the stories in this order from favorite to least favorite: Mr Dark's Carnival The Facts In The Case Of My Sister The Pumpkin Boy Mischief Night The Ghost Maker I received an advance copy of this title for review.
This is the second in a series of five Halloween Carnivals. The anthology features 5 different authors and are centered on Halloween. I like the idea that the publisher is releasing one a week in October, gearing up for the holiday. As with all anthologies, I had my favorites. I have read some of Al Sarrantino's Orangefield books and stories in the past and enjoyed them. The Pumpkin Boy did not disappoint. My favorite of the bunch though was Glen Hirshberg's Mr. Dark's Carnival. A college history professor well-versed in local legends finds out the truth behind long-rumored tales of Mr. Dark's Carnival. There is a lot of background and story building up to the end, which while close, I did not quite guess. I found it strangely alluring - both the story and the carnival. Definitely the best, in my opinion
HALLOWEEN CARNIVAL VOLUME 2 is the second of five anthologies from Random House/Hydra and editor Brian James Freeman due out the second week of October 2017. And like I expected, it's more than satisfying and just a bit chilling. This volume has two novella length stories by the incredibly lyrical Glen Hirschberg and the king of Halloween Al Sarrantonio. Either story on it's own would be reason enough to buy and read this edition, but together - it's a no brainer. Both MR. DARK'S CARNIVAL and THE PUMPKIN BOY are worth reading every Halloween. Lee Thomas's THE FACTS IN THE CASE OF MY SISTER was a well intentioned horrifying read that I never want to read again. I hope people learn from it. MISCHIEF NIGHT was just sad. Not really a horror story, it felt out of place in this collection. It was quite dark however. THE GHOST MAKER was also dark fiction. Enjoyable, and while I liked it, it didn't seem to belong here. A good story all the same. This is a must read if you're at all into thrills and chills. Do yourself a favor and treat yourself to the whole series today. I received my copy from the publisher.