Review: Helter Skelter: Tales of Horror by Bryan Cassiday

      Helter Skelter
Bryan Cassiday; Paperback, First, 217 pages
Published August 1st 2011 by Bryan Cassiday
Evildoers run riot across the sun-drenched Southern California landscape in Helter Skelter. Zombies, vampires, and other wicked creatures wreak mayhem and carnage in these shocking horror short stories by Bryan Cassiday. Not all of these tales feature supernatural creatures. Some of the evil creatures are human–perhaps the most terrifying creature of all. These stories defy logic, yet they obey their own inexorable logic of fear.
The Dead of the Night–was that a zombie in my window?
Lamia–a teenager comes of age in an eerie cathouse.
It’s for You–the girl next door has an admirer, unfortunately for her.
The Green Parrot–or Leave It to Cleaver.
Blindman’s Buff–a blind man plays a game of life or death.
Room 208–this isn’t a room at Motel 6.
Black Dog–let sleeping dogs lie.
The Undertaker–a ruthless mortician wants to grow his business, with deadly results.
Shambles–a bad day at work just got worse when an employee finds out just how nasty his boss really is.
Kiss of Death–love sucks for an aspiring writer.
Snakebit–a man bitten by a snake loses his head–and then some.
Confessions from the Grave–a dead, popular senator has skeletons in his closet.
The Invisible Enemy–things aren’t like they used to be after an unidentifiable plague hits town.
Goodreads on Helter Skelter

This was my first read for the Frightful Fall Read-a-thon, I figured going in with a collection of short stories would be a good strategy. It is a good strategy for a read-a-thon, but this week became crazy busy for me, and I barely found the time to sit down and read. And when I did, I wasn’t in a very happy place in my head, if you know what I mean. It’s my favorite time of the year, the fall, but this week was horrible. Probably in theme with the horror I was supposed to eat up…life gets funny like that sometimes. Anyways…

So, horror. My tastes in horror are perhaps a bit peculiar; I like a certain type of horror stories, and it’s not the obvious scary type. I don’t really know how to put this…I like fantastic horror, more literary then realistic. Clowns with shark teeth, for instance, is beyond my humble limits. I think you can tell, I’m not a horror fan, just like I’m not a sci-fi fan. I’ll like books in any genre because they’re well written from my point of view, meaning I connect with the writing and get emotionally involved. That’s my standard for good books.

I didn’t connect with the writing here; I found some of the stories very clever, and had fun reading them, like Lamia for instance; some were the type of story I love reading, only I wasn’t involved enough to really get into them particularly, like The Dead of the Night, Shambles and The Green Parrot. I was nauseous about It’s for You, and though the book has the obvious goal of horrifying you, this story disturbed me in a way that I can’t really find the merits of, but that has to do with my own sensibilities and personal views and whatnot. The idea behind the story is something I dread to read, hear or think about, but it is yet another side of humanity, as much as I dread it.

In fact, what I really liked about the book as a whole is the fact that it’s a study of humanity. The stories explore sides of humanity in brave, fearless ways, from different angles and with different degrees of depth. I believe this collection of short stories is very well thought, and planned.

But what it comes down to is personal preference. The dark sides of humanity are a very promising realm to explore, and there are ways upon ways of doing so; by large, I didn’t connect with Bryan Cassiday‘s. While I found some of the stories very clever, and intriguing, despite my over-all lack of connection, I wouldn’t say I’d like to read them again, for instance.
It’s a good collection of short stories, it just wasn’t a good match with me.

Get it from

-paperback: $14.39
-ebook: $9.99

-paperback: $14.39
-ebook: $12.64 (with VAT&iwd)



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