Book review: Monster Maelstrom: A Flash Fiction Halloween Anthology

Monster Maelstrom: A Flash Fiction Halloween Anthology (Flash Flood #2)Monster Maelstrom: A Flash Fiction Halloween Anthology by George Donnelly
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is the second Flash Flood anthology, focusing on Halloween/horror-themed stories.

I found this collection of stories a little more uneven than the first collection (Bite-Sized Stories: A Multi-Genre Flash Fiction Anthology (Flash Flood Book 1) but the price (free) and commitment (minimal, given the whole idea is to present short-short stories that can be read in a few minutes, I can still give this a solid thumbs-up for the standout stories.

It’s not easy to pull off a fully self-contained story in so few words so when it comes together it almost feels like a little alchemy is involved.

On the negative side, the collection starts off weak, with a flat zombie story set against the backdrop of a strip bar. There are also enough stories from the first person POV where that person ends up being dead by the end that I’m wondering if this is some new trend in fiction. If so, it should be stopped immediately because it is lazy, cheating storytelling, the equivalent of those hokey twist endings on The Twilight Zone that we laugh about now.

On a more positive note, there are some nicely rendered stories here, including:

– “Teddy Bear Defenders” (Tom Germann). A cute story with a (horror-tinged) Toy Story vibe.
– “What I did at Halloween” (Edward M. Grant). A little girl thwarts a would-be robber with Bob. Bob is Bad. But this story is good. The ending seemed a little too on-point but doesn’t diminish the amusing interplay between the characters prior to it.
– “Monsters Like Us” (Jeanette Raleigh). An atmospheric take that initially feels like it might be yet another vampire story but turns into something more interesting–and chilling.
– “In the Eye of the Beholder” (Bill Hiatt). This *is* a vampire story, in a manner of speaking, and though the twist might be obvious to some, it is nicely executed (no pun intended–mostly).

There are other stories worth checking out but really, just grab the collection and have a look. The stories that don’t work breeze by so quickly it’s akin to dabbing something sour on your tongue before moving onto something sweet.

Overall, I can recommended this anthology for both horror fans and anyone looking for new writers to discover.

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