When it comes to anthologies I've never been a huge fan. Although I like a short story every now and again, I've always felt anthologies were appetizers to the author's juicier stories. But every now and again I'll read an anthology maybe before bed, if I am between full length novels, or I want to catch a prequel/follow-up to a favorite series.
Not Now...Mommy's Reading was offered the opportunity to read Still Moments Publishing's October anthology "Haunted Shadows" and I was completely up to the challenge. Yes, challenge because I am a big ole scaredy cat! I read the blurbs for the three stories and thought they couldn't be that scary...yeah they weren't really, but my mistake was reading these fabulous stories before bed during the . night while the hubs was at work! Not only did I stay up late reading, I had to sleep with the lights on! If you like reading about things that go bump in the night with a little spice...
Pumpkin Walk by Candace Sams
In Candace Sams' Pumpkin Walk we meet young witch Kate Cauldron who has recently lost the grandparents that raised her. Alone in the world Kate decides that it's time to start a family of her own. In her little town the residents have their own take on the classic cake walk, but with the pumpkin walk the outcome is permanent. After agonizing over her decision Kate enters her name in the pumpkin walk and leaves her future to fate. Lance Pendragon takes one look at Kate across the fairground and he knows that fate has provided him with his mate. Without any hesitation, Lance enters his name in the pumpkin walk knowing that his destiny was tied to the little witch and fate would not be denied. Sure enough, Kate is chosen for Lance. As they begin their life together, there is a small cloud hanging over their happiness. Lance is estranged from his family after making a decision that went against his father's dictates.
I really enjoyed how the author developed both characters. We got enough background to become emotionally attached with them and without distracting from their budding relationship. Unlike most stories where the relationship between the hero and heroine is built over the length of the story ending with a wedding or proposal then the happily ever after, Lance and Kate chose their happily ever after and we the reader got a glimpse of the two as they adjusted to their happily ever after. Lance knew what he wanted from the start and Kate, while the decision wasn't an easy one, hit the jackpot with Lance. Candace Sams did a fabulous job with the Pumpkin Walk and I will surely be on the lookout for more of her work.
Ghost by Dani-Lyn Alexander
Jess is being haunted by an entity that she can't explain. Events are happening around her that she can't remember and her entity is becoming more and more substantial as days go by. Jess is starting to think that maybe she is going crazy but events are slowly starting to reveal just what is going on with Jess and her ghost. Noah is the ghost that has been watching over Jess for the last several years. She moved into his condo right after he died. He was immediately drawn to her and had been looking for ways to show himself to her without completely scaring her to death. But now Noah feels that Jess is ready to accept him and he begins to slowly start making his presence known to her.
There is a scene where Jess steps out of the shower and she sees something move in the mirror behind her. When she turns around there is nothing behind her but when she turns back to the mirror Noah has written his name in the condensation on the mirror. OMG!!! that right there had me turning on the light in the closet and turning on my husband's beside light. Out of the three stories, this one had the hairs raising on the back of my neck and my skin covered in goosebumps (remember I'm the scaredy cat). I'm going to leave the review here because if I put anymore down I'll spoil it for you. The whole story was intense and the ending was...well you'll have to see for yourself.
Ghost in the Garden by Denise MoncriefLiza Petrie has arrived in New Orleans to visit her grandmother but to her surprise her high school crush ,Bo Hendricks, is living in her grandmother's attic. Things have been happening at Gran's house and she's hired Bo's paranormal extermination service to find out what is going on.
At first I thought maybe Gran was playing matchmaker, that she somehow knew that Bo and Liza were involved in some way in high school, that was until the ghost showed up. I initially didn't care for Liza but the author did a great job of developing a background that explained why Liza was a little bitter toward the male gender. I thought Bo was silly, but under that good ole boy exterior, he was a good guy trying to do right by the little old ladies that heard bumps in the night. I liked how the story came together and I thought it was longer than it really was - I was that engrossed. There is a ghost but you will be surprised to find out whose really making the noises in the attic.
All three of these ladies wrote exceptional stories. I enjoyed each one that I read, even the one that had me sleeping with the lights on. Great job! I look forward to reading more in the future