by Brian James Freeman
Seven Stories is a collection of just that: seven stories. All previously published, Brian James Freeman and Cemetery Dance offer up this relatively modest collection, and given how much I enjoyed his novella, The Painted Darkness, I didn't hesitate adding this to my Kindle.
While a couple of the stories are truly horrific on a visceral level, the majority of this collection follows a quieter path in scaring the reader. "Walking with the Ghosts of Pier 13" is a strong example of the latter, as a man wanders a boardwalk amusement park in the wake of terrorist attacks across the country that have devastated the nation's psyche and targeted amusement parks specifically. It's more of a look at the aftermath than the act itself, but all the more disturbing because of it.
Stories like "Running Rain" and "The Punishment Room" offer some unsettling twists on familiar ideas, serial killers with the former and torture and justice with the latter. Both were two stand-outs among seven very strong offerings. If there's a runt in the litter, it might be "What They Left Behind," which I thought had a great creature feature vibe as a couple office workers explore the dessicated warehouse of where they work. Good, but forgettable compared to my favorite of the bunch, "Where Sunlight Sleeps." That story, which tugs the ol' heartstrings with a tale of a father taking his son on their weekly tour of his dead wife's mundane travels, at the behest of a grief counselor to help the son cope with her death. Really touching and really disquieting as it goes along.
This collection is relatively small compared to the more conventional books you see on shelves, but as an e-book it's a very convenient size for curious readers that would like to take Freeman's writing for a test drive. If Freeman has more stories waiting in the wings, I eagerly await the chance to read them.