cover image Childhood Fears

Childhood Fears

Edited by Don D’Auria. Samhain (, $14 e-book (304p) ISBN 978-1-61922-613-5

This collection of four horror novellas explores the fuel of children’s nightmares with sympathy and inventiveness. In “Nightmare in Greasepaint” by L.L. Soares and G. Daniel Gunn, a murderous clown seeks revenge on his son, who refused to carry on the family tradition. J.H. Moncrieff’s “The Bear Who Wouldn’t Leave” features a malicious stepfather who gives his new wife’s son a fiendish teddy bear. In Christine Hayton’s “Scarecrows” and J.G. Faherty’s “Wildwood,” cautionary tales about sinister scarecrows and menacing Yuletide creatures hold unexpected truth. All the authors effectively evoke the dread that comes from knowing the children can’t rely on their parents for protection or rescue, and real-world concerns such as child abuse and committing the mentally ill to institutions—which also highlight adults’ unreliability—sometimes loom larger than any paranormal menace. The novellas tend to focus on plot and sensory detail over character development, so the dialogue and behavior don’t always ring true. Even so, horror fans looking for new spins on familiar scares will appreciate this anthology. (Oct.)