Short Take: “Halloween Fiend,” C.V. Hunt

Pros: Interesting premise
Cons: Most of the characters didn’t appeal
Rating: 4 out of 5

C.V. Hunt’s horror novella Halloween Fiend introduces us to Barry, who lives in the dying town of Strang. He works at the grocery store while trying to care for his ailing father. The town has an uneasy peace with a fiend they simply refer to as Halloween–each house with someone still living in it leaves a “treat” out for Halloween each night, such as a guinea pig. Halloween collects these things, and then once a year he claims a human who’s been chosen via a sort of raffle at the fall festival. Barry seems to have caught Halloween’s attention, and the fiend is taunting him. When the fall festival comes around, the town decides that this year they’re going to include a couple of carnival rides, and they tap Barry to host the two carnies who have to remain in town. The sheriff seems to have it in for Barry, and almost seems to want to catch him failing in his task to keep the carnies from hearing about their situation.

None of the characters really appeal (except perhaps for the waitress Barry has a thing for, who dresses up as Freddy Krueger for Halloween and frankly would have made a much more interesting main character). Some of them don’t have enough depth to explain their actions, either. For instance, I have no idea why on earth the sheriff would suddenly have it in for Barry, nor do I understand why the town would risk hosting the carnies, who are virtually certain to not want to stay hidden away while everything is going on.

Other than that, however, this is a really neat book. Halloween is an interesting entity, and the town with its secrets–probably doomed to die with its population–is worth exploring. Content note for animal harm. If you’re looking for a fun little monster story with a touch of rural horror, give this one a try!

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