Sunruined: Horror Stories

Sunruined: Horror Stories - Andersen Prunty An uneven collection of stories, albeit with consistently good writing throughout. Evenly split between horror and moody-ish stories. I loved the horror-related titles, the others, not so much. I give the collection overall a 3 1/2 star rating, maked as four on Goodreads.

The good stories in this collection are REALLY good, and the others aren't necessarily bad, just not great. I'd recommend reading THE JACKTHIEF, THE SCREAMING ORCHARD, and CRUEL WOMEN WITH WHIPLIKE SMILES. The rest of the stories left me unsatisfied.

Individual story reviews:

*** The Jackthief

A Halloween fairy tale of sorts. Very poetic, but I was hoping for more depth in the plot after the excellent opening. Worth reading. Reminiscent of Bradbury.

**** The Screaming Orchard

A great Halloween read. Dark gruesome fun, reads like a lost Laymon tale. Pure pulpy entertainment. Recommended. Looking forward to reading more of this collection.

** Glowers Point

This one started out strong. A woman cheating on her out-of-town husband gets a call from him while still in bed with her lover. Her husband says he's in the middle of nowhere, wait, there's a sign...he's near Glowers Point. Her heart sinks she knows the place, from her past, a bad place. From the receiver, her husband screams and then phone cuts off. And the reader is hooked.
The first half of this story is perfectly paced and plotted, but about halfway through the style seems to shift and the tension evaporates along with plausibility. I suspect that perhaps this story was written by a younger Mr. Prunty, although that's pure speculation on my part. The primary flaw with the story is that it reveals its hand prematurely, and by the reveal of the big bad (pulled straight out of SWAN SONG), the reality of the story has transformed into dreamland. Could be better with some work.


***** Cruel Women with Whiplike Smiles

Quantum leap in quality from the preceding story. This story ranks way up there as one of best written things I've ever read. Flowing, lyrical, magical, like a dose of salvia in written form. Though the ending was not a surprise, the trip getting there was so perversely beautiful I was sad it ended. I will be reading this again, many times, I'm sure. Well done.


*** The Smoke of Samuel

A newly wed painter loses his muse, then finds it again in the semi-living corpse of a man's daughter, hidden inside an abandoned mill...or something reasonably close to that. A bit of a muddled mess of a story, beautifully written in spots and baroquely overwritten in others. Characters don't ring quite true and motivations seem off. If I was to guess, I'd suppose that this story was written early in the writer's career and was possibly based on a dream. Some interesting set pieces (well, one - inside the mill) but not much else to recommend it.


*** Sad Clown, Kentucky

The odd title of this story had me excited to read it, but really is no indication of what lies in store.
A severely average man divorces his average wife, quits his average job, amd moves in with his elderly mother and wastes his days staring at the TV in a stupor. When he finds her dead in her bed one morning, he can't quite muster up the energy to do the things he needs to do to deal with her loss, so he brews a pot of coffe and settles back down in front of the TV. A hallucinatory sequence suggests that perhaps the man is dead, too, but that never seems to go anywhere and the story goes on to a decidedly average conclusion. An average tale of self-inflicted pathos that may be a good cure if you happen to be feeling a little to upbeat at the moment.

*** Sunruined

My parents never really loved me, the story. An unloved child, now grown and moved away, returns home to dispose of the family home after the closely-timed deaths of his parents. At night he revisits the mysterious unused nursery they had kept unoccupied since his older brother had died as an infant, and discovers the answer to the mystery of why he was unloved. Spoiler: the mystery is about as unlikely as the man never looking into the nursery more than once during his entire life. The tale started of intruguing enough, but ultimately ended up in a very silly place.

This is the first collection I've read by Andersen Prunty, and it may be an early example of his work. I'm definitely now a fan of his writing, and will read more of his stories to see if I can find others that live up to the best found here.