Book Review: Flight or Fright: 17 Turbulent Tales edited by Stephen King and Ben Vincent

Flight of Fright: 17 Turbulent Tales edited by Stephen King and Ben Vincent, Has tales of the supernatural, tales of death, tales of suspense, and tales of the dangers of the innovation called flight. The authors of stories in this anthology include Steven King, Roald Dahl, Joe Hill, James Dickey, Ray Bradbury, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Richard Matheson, and others. This book is about fear, now sometimes it is physical fear, but in a couple stories it is the idea of fear. I read everything so my review can have a little more patience than someone just going for horror stories. This book has some true horror stories but it does have a few reaching for straws it it exactly categorizes or not. I enjoyed this book and some of the stories more than others, my favorites are Nightmare at 2o,ooo Feet my Richard Matheson, Ray Bradbury’s The Flying Machine, You Are Released by Joe Hill, and Lucifer! by E. C. Tubbs. I ranks all the stories but one that is a page long and more a statement then a story.

5 Star Short Stories:

Nightmare at 20,000 feet by Richard Matheson is a tale I’ve known about for a while it has been adapted 3 times for The Twilight Zone with William Shatner, John Lithgow, and Adam Scott playing the main role. For a story that I know by heart from the episodes, it still managed to surprise, it is still as terrifying today as it was in the 1960’s.

“Lucifer! by E.C. Tubb, is a great little short story about an unscrupulous man stealing a ring that can turn back time for a minute, but what happens when the man is involved in a plane crash is a minute enough time to stop it? I was blown away by this story, very dark.

You Are Released by Joe Hill A story about what happens in the passenger plane when nuclear war starts. A great story that jumps back and forth between passengers and the cabin, each dealing with their fates the way they know how. The best is we see through the eyes of a young girl that doesn’t know the world is changing and the adults our acting so strangely.

The Flying Machine by Ray Bradbury – Man could he write. The flying Machine is a fable about the danger of innovation of flight. The story takes place in 400 A.D. China with the emperor seeing a villager create a flying machine while standing on the Great Wall. This story is expertly told in a perfect 1500 word story. This really makes me want to read some Bradbury short stories.

Diablitos by Cody Goodfellow – Ryan Rayburn III is a smuggler of rare art, and he has got a mask of a lost tribe, this mask has a curse, one you won’t believe. I really liked this story it is one of the more modern in the book so far, the description make your skin crawl and the horror is real, it is ends with the perfect saying and has a nice little twist.

4 Star Short Stories:

The Horror of the Heights By Arthur Conan Doyle the ending saves this one and I do have to take into the account of when it was written, ten years after the wright brother’s first flight, where for most people Plane travel was just a myth, this would be terrifying that it’s style is a lost journal. I rated this story 4 out of 5, if not for the ending it would have been three.

Murder in the Air by Peter Tremayne The kind of Story Agatha Christie would have written if flight would have been recreational during her time. This is a fun mystery where a corpse is found in a locked bathroom by an apparent gunshot in mid-flight and a doctor and a criminologist are passengers who solve the crime.

The Turbulence Expert and Intro by Stephen King The intro to this short story collection is better than the actual story in the book, but it let’s the reader get a good glimpse into the story as King relates his real bout with turbulence ten we get his story soon after seeing the bits of real life that went with it.

Cargo by E. Michael Lewis is a story that was written in 1978 and very topical at the time dealing with a Loadmaster that has to load cargo in bodies of children after the Jonestown mass suicide, and starts hearing playing mid-flight.

Three Star Short Stories:

The Fifth Category by Tom Bissell is about John former member of the CIA that helped write the memo on what qualifies as torture during times of war. He has been exposed and tried for war crimes in Germany and others. He gets invited to Estonia to give a lecture, he agrees getting tired of not defending himself. On the way home things don’t go as plan as he wakes up to an empty plane, or so he thinks. The story is good just really didn’t like the way it was written, by jumping around.

Two Minutes Forty-Five Seconds By Dan Simmons is a tale about Roger Colvin a plane Safety Engineer who happens to have a fear of flying, He knows if something goes wrong on the plane it will take two minutes forty-five seconds to reach the ground. I liked the ending saw what Simmons was trying to do with the story, but too much engineer jargon ruined the story for me.

Warbirds by David J. Schow – This story has a lot of heart, I liked the ending but for a short story there is way too many characters, and no descriptions, it’s war so there’s some distinction but not much in war jargon. It’s about a war hero Sargent still haunted by shades of war that left him broken.

Zombies on the Plane by Ben Vincent is about a group of survivors trying to escape a zombie apocalypse by plane. The story is told okay but I was more interested in the further adventures of group dealing with someone turning on a plane. but the story is about the escape to the plane, which I found just okay.

They Shall Not Grow Old by Roald Dahl is about a World War II pilot goes missing on a scouting mission, he returns 3 days later think it was only 2 hours later, he remembers what he saw when in battle. The overall story is great but it drags and ends up explaining different clouds for two pages. I liked the ending but the middle took too long to get there.

Two Star Short Stories:

Air Raid by John Varley too much was going on in this short story to truly enjoy. I think it was about people from the future saving people who died from known plane disasters, to populate the new world, I think? The descriptions aren’t clear enough, and throw time travel into it and it was just a mess.

Falling by James Dickey this is a poem based on a real flight attendant getting sucked out of an airplane. A few mad me think about the real incident. I’m not really a poem person, there was no rhyme it was more a free verse poem.

Recommendations: If you are like me and appreciate all stories not just scary then this well rounded collection of short stories is for you. There are a couple of classics in here that I would recommend. I rated 5 out of 17, 5 stars and 4 out of 17, 4 stars. the book will take some out of there comfort zone and I think that is a great thing. I rated Flight of Fright: 17 Turbulent Tales edited by Stephen King and Ben Vincent 4 out of 5 stars.

Book Review: Goosebumps: Stay Out of the Basement by R. L. Stine

Stay Out of the Basement by R. L. Stine is the second novel in the original Goosebumps line, and a far better story than the Welcome to the Dead House, the first original Goosebumps. As kids we’ve all been told to stay out of something, mostly for our own safety. I this story it’s for safety and secrets. This novel goes into the real world problems of dad losing his job and then setting out to prove his employers wrong. He becomes distant and stressed and in an R. L. Stine twist otherworldly. As an adult reading this for my nephews I can really appreciate the real life scenarios he subtly put into his stories.

The Plot: Margret and Casey two siblings, are dealing with a new life situation, their dad losing his job at a science laboratory. Their dad has became distant, stressed, and made a makeshift lab in the homes basement.There not supposed to disturb their dad when he’s working and all but banned from the basement. When Margret’s friend Diane who’s a little bit rebellious, dares them to go to the basement while their dad has to bring their mother to the airport to deal with a sick aunt. They reluctantly go and the basement is like nothing they’ve seen before, it’s hot, humid, and muggy with plants covering every inch but the stairs. The plants are like nothing you’ve ever seen before, they seem to reach out for the kids and moan, before they can investigate further their dad come home. Margret and Diane scramble up the stairs but Casey is stuck with a plant wrapping around him not in a threatening but still traps him. Diane leaves out the back as Margret quickly rescues her brother, but get busted on the stairs my their dad who’s very upset, his hat flies off and reveals instead of hair he’s growing leaves. He says it’s a side effect to something they won’t understand and puts an additional lock on the basement door telling them to stay out, but like typical kids they do not. What will happen when they do not stay out of the basement?

What I Liked: The twist are really good, there’s some really clever misdirects, that make sense when all is revealed but really clever writing. I had even seen the episode about three years ago as I introduced the show to cousins and could not remember all the twist and turns. This story is supper creepy plants moaning and forming mouths. The real life scenario of a father losing a job and going a little nuts to prove ex-employers wrong is too real. The story brought me back to the childhood fears of going own into a dark staircase to the basement. Every scene and chapter has a purpose. I have a fear of food and the scene in this story really got to me.

What I Disliked: Money was never discussed with losing a job, I thought it could have been a little more relatable to real life scenario. I did think it’s funny as the story escalates and gets crazier the dad is still neighborly and helps the neighbors with things, so I thought he could’ve got out of the house for something other than that, like buying mulch of other plant food.

Recommendations: I love Goosebumps and this is one of the better stories in the series as far as twist go. This story is made ever so scary adding the real life scenario. I rated this 5 out of 5 stars, I was on the fence debating between 4 and 5 but the twist is really good and well thought out, this one could almost fit in the Twilight Zone with not too many changes. I plan to keep reading Goosebumps and reviewing them their so fun and a good break for the headier stuff I read sometimes.

Book Review: Welcome to Dead House by R. L. Stine

Welcome to Dead House by R. L. Stine is the very first Goosebumps book. It’s a lot scarier and more graphic than I remember, but still appropriate for it’s younger audience. I used to read these books as kids and also read them to my younger sister for bed, now that my sister has two of my nephews and I got these books for them but thought it would be fun to reminisce and read/review it for my website. This novel did not disappoint and still puts me in the mind of my childhood self and what fears me.

The Plot: Amanda and Josh have just moved into a new house in the town of Dark Falls, as a great Uncle has bequeathed it upon his death (the dad can not remember uncle). Amanda and Josh get bad vibes from the place that seems always shaded in shadows. Petey their dog starts acting strange and hostilely bark at the realtor and every kid they meet. Amanda swears she sees kids in the house and whispering, but believes it’s her own imagination. She meets all the kids in the neighborhood and is treated like the outsider she is, the only thing that most kids say is, “I lived in your house once.”

What I Liked: This story is dark and has a pretty good little twist. The tone is set up from the beginning and it’s creepy and spooky. The descriptions are just enough to create a mind picture of your imagination. The gore was a little bit unexpected, two character’s eyes pop out of their head. I thought the dialogue worked really well, and it furthered the mystery. I loved the character of Ray, and the twist that character has.

What I Disliked: This novel is told in a first person view of Amanda and it could have easily have been written in third, we get no insight being in her head. Her character felt really vague on female characteristics, it felt very genderless, I guess it was to appeal to both guys and girls at that age.

Recommendations: I whole heartedly recommend this book and series, it’s horror lite and a good introduction in to real horror genre in the future. This novel is the kid friendly version of the Twilight Zone. I rated this book 4 out of 5 stars. I ended up seeing nine of these books super cheap and bought them for the nephews to read, will review them as I go.

Book Review: Sour Candy by Kealan Patrick Burke

Sour Candy by Kealan Patrick Burke is a short novella that’s 76 pages total but manages to pack quite a wallop. The mood is set early and it’s creepy and disturbing. This short piece fits in the Twilight Zone, and is self aware enough to say so. The visuals are great and thanks to a creepy cover art, it’s easy to picture to creatures true form. The ending is good and will stay with me for a bit, just like a good episode of the twilight zone. This story spins the child from hell in a new direction. Those that follow my blog will know just how high the praise is as I use an image from the Twilight Zone Time Enough at Last as my monthly wrap up image.

The Plot: Phil Pendleton is in a local Walmart searching desperately for chocolate candy for his lover in a break between love making. He talks on the phone flirting the whole time, but that stops when he here’s the most loud and annoying scream from a six year old, in the candy aisle. Phil life other look among the other patrons and wonder where is the child’s mother and why isn’t she controlling here kid. He see’s a mother who looks like a spaced out thin junkie barely register’s her kid as she rips a bag of sour candy and puts it sloppily in her mouth. Phil connects with the kids eyes feeling sorry as the kid does another horrible high pitched scream. The store’s manager comes over and ask them to leave, Phil see’s to woman almost falling and give her a hand, for his reward he’s given a piece of sour candy. He jokes to the lover about never having kids on his drive home, as he is violently rammed in in the back by a speeding car. Phil comes to as people help him out of his now totaled car, and saw that it was the mother at the store. He immediately thinks of the kid and calls for others to look in the car for a kid. An officer comes to the scene and takes his statement as the mother of the boy passes away, asking him to describe the kid, Phil tries to get a hold of his girlfriend and can not, the officer takes down the address to send an officer over. The officer says he couldn’t get a hold of the girlfriend just his son. This is when his world starts crashing down, because he has no son, the officer says you must have been thinking about him because he fits the description of the kid you described in the accident. Did Phil always have a son? Did the accident do more damage than he thought? Or is there another purpose that he has a kid now?

What I Liked: This novella moves lighting fast, the plot summery I described is the all in the first 20 pages, and I left out information I deemed spoilers. This thing is creepy, like shower after reading creepy. I liked the use of descriptions and the visual picture created. The final twist is really good and is going to stick with me for a bit. I liked to the clever way it was set up.

What I Disliked: I thought the dialogue could have been a little better in parts between Phil and the kid. The story could’ve been easily expanded, I would have like to see more torment, to lead up to Phil’s actions, I understood them but don’t know if I fully emphasized with them.

Recommendations: This is my first Kealan Patrick Burke story and will not be my last. If you like the Twilight Zone, then this story will fit right in. If you like spine tingly stories that go to the extreme then you will love this story.  For horror aficionados Bentley Little recommends tale saying, “He wished he had written this tale himself” Bentley Little has written one of my favorite horror short stories in his book The Collection called The Washingtonians about England not conceding the Independence War and secretly running Washington.  I rated this Sour Candy 4 out of 5 stars.