FOUR DARK NIGHTS

Bentley Little, Author, Douglas Clegg, Joint Author, Christopher Golden, Joint Author . Leisure $25 (326p) ISBN 978-0-8439-5098-4

A generously unrestricted theme—events that take place in a single terrifying night—and talented contributors build high expectations for this quartet of brand new horror novellas, most of which, alas, disappoint in their failure to develop a plot suitable for their length. Bentley Little's "The Circle," the only tale that faithfully limits its events to a single evening, presents three interrelated vignettes of weird incidents in a suburban neighborhood, all of which prove to have an explanation that is surprisingly humdrum by genre standards. Christopher Golden's "Pyre," in which a young woman comes to terms with her estranged father by means of supernatural experience, depends on a labored back story about a Maine island haunted by Viking ghosts. In "Jonah Rose," Tom Piccirilli spends more time elaborating his narrator's convoluted history as a former faith healer who took up with sideshow freaks than establishing that history's bearing on his mission to rescue his kidnapped son from a strange urban underworld. Only Douglas Clegg's "The Words," about two teenage outsiders whose alienation leads them into the creepy "world of Nowhere," uses its expansive length to build the atmosphere and tension crucial for orchestrating its unsettling events. Each of these stories has its moments, which suggests their authors might have produced better offerings outside the anthology's write-to-format limitations. (Oct.)

FYI:This anonymously compiled volume is Leisure's third hardcover offering after last year's The Museum of Horrors, an anthology edited by Dennis Etchison.

Reviewed on: 09/30/2002
Release date: 10/01/2002
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