Review: “Six Scary Stories,” ed. Stephen King

Pros: Enjoyable little horror tales
Rating: 5 out of 5

Stephen King agreed to manage a short story contest, and he liked the best six entries so much that he suggested they be turned into an anthology. Hence the appearance of Six Scary Stories.

Elodie Harper’s “Wild Swimming” takes place in Lithuania, where a swimmer wants to explore a local lake. There’s an old village buried underneath it, and her hostess insists swimming there would show disrespect–but of course the woman doesn’t listen.

Manuela Saragosa’s “Eau-de-Eric” is one of my favorites in this volume. Kathy’s husband Eric is dead, but her little girl Ellie just found a teddy bear that smells of his aftershave. Kathy doesn’t want the reminder of her dead husband, but Ellie’s determined to keep hold of the bear. There’s a fantastic sense of inevitability to this one, and Kathy has a surprising amount of depth to her given the short length of the story.

In “The Spots,” by Paul Bassett Davies, a man is set to the task of counting a leopard’s spots by his country’s great Leader. The depiction of this Leader in the little details that emerge is both whimsical and dark.

Michael Button’s “The Unpicking” sees a bunch of kids’ toys trying to figure out what game to play while their child sleeps. This is another favorite, as it has whispers of Ligotti’s fascination with puppets and marionettes in it.

Stuart Johnstone’s “La Mort de L’Amant” shows us a man looking out off of a bridge, and a police officer who comes to make sure he’s okay. I found the ending of this one a bit too abrupt, but it was otherwise quite good.

Finally, Neil Hudson’s “The Bear Trap” presents Calvin, a boy who’s weathering the end of the world at his prepper father’s house. He and his teddy bears are none too happy when a stranger comes looking to take whatever he can get.

I’m not including much detail, as it’s easy to ruin the fun in short horror stories. I’ll just say that these are delightful little nuggets, and for the most part I found them all quite satisfying.

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