Book review: Dark Delicacies III: Haunted

Despite the subtitle, Dark Delicacies III: Haunted is not really a collection of ghost stories, though many play on the theme of ghosts or some kind of haunting.

Perhaps its most bizarre inclusion is a foreward by Steven Weber. Yes, the guy from Wings.

As is often the case with collections there are a few standouts, some clunkers and a lot of perfectly serviceable reads to be found. Most of the stories are quite short at ten pages or thereabouts so even the bad ones won’t linger. As befits a horror collection a few stories are built on gross-outs and some fairly graphic sex. Be warned, ye of delicate sensibilities!

My favorites include Richard Matheson’s cheeky “How to Edit”, which has a kind of companion piece in the ultimately nonsensical “Tyler’s Third Act”, both stories dealing with self-mutilation. The latter falls apart at the end (no pun intended), while Matheson’s wraps up appropriately. David Morrell’s “The Architecture of Snow” rounds out the book (save for a very brief poem by Clive Barker) and is a wonderfully meditative piece. “Man with the Canvas Bag” by Gary Braunbeck is weirdly wonderful while Chuck Palahinuk’s “Fetch” is just plain weird, kind of what you would expect if Jack Handey wrote a horror story. Funny, though.

“Food of the Gods” left me cold and not just because it’s one of several stories in the collection to use the ‘haha, even though the story is written in first person the narrator is DEAD, fooled you!” shtick. “The Slow Haunting”, though well-written, is flattened by a twist ending that isn’t earned.

Overall, though, any fan of horror should find enough here to warrant a look. I give Dark Delicacies III: Haunted 3.5 out of 5 severed heads.

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