At first glimpse of Tales from the Lake Vol. 4, I thought it would be easy to see how Ben Eads placed all of these authors under one roof for this explosive anthology, but after three to four stories in, I realized I was wrong… this book was something more.
After sinking my teeth into the fourth tale, I did something I had never done before – I started from the beginning.
Tales from the Lake Vo.l 4 represents the best of 2017’s recently risen indie horror authors.
When the Dead Come Home by Jennifer Loring: the first tale in the anthology which is reminiscent of Roman Polanski’s Repulsion, one of my favorite movies. The tale is incredibly bleak and well worth the read.
The Folding Man by Joe R. Lansdale: The Folding Man, as Crystal Lake stated, is perhaps Joe’s darkest tale, and it certainly delivers on all accounts. God only knows why more filmmakers have not adapted more of Joe’s work. Landsdale always takes the crown as horror’s very own survivalist king. Many readers will be aware that this tale is a reprint of this older, awesome horror story.
Whenever You Exhale, I Inhale by Max Booth: This is a “one of a kind” story. It tells the tale of homophobic love between two young boys and the effect it has on one of the lead’s dads. The tale is enthralling and had the essence of the early work of notorious filmmaker Larry Clarke, curdled with the utmost despair.
Go Warily After Dark by Kealan Patrick Burke: This story displays phenomenal writing. With ease, Burke places the reader inside the characters’ heads. You can feel the maddening terrors of the horrors of war, and at times, your head splits with tension.
To the Hills by T. E. Grau: This story uses the end of the world as its main card trick. Grau is willing and able to make the genre very much his own.
Everything Hurts, Until It Doesn’t by Damien Angelica Walters: This one is incredibly weird, and at times, possibly the best body horror story I’ve read in years. I found myself itchy all over… it was flawless and the execution was perfect.
Drowning in Sorrow by Sheldon Higdon: Sheldon is a writer I had never heard of before, so I was eager to read what he had to offer. His use of well-rounded characters makes him an authority on how to develop personalities within the fiction world. Beautifully written and a stand-out tale in this precious anthology.
The Withering by Bruce Golden: Golden uses my favorite theme – the imagination – in the idea that thought is a concept felt considerably new and golden, weaving something new.
Grave Secrets by J.G Faherty: Every horror anthology needs some Lovecraft loving, and that is just what Grave Secrets is. Using illusions and otherworldly forces to give this story something very existential. The writing is impeccable and is also a stand-out short tale on how to write the perfect horror story. Rocky point will never leave you.
The End of the Hall by Hunter Liguore: What is a horror anthology without a haunted house story? Hunter understands the importance of the genre, giving it a heartwarming feel from start to finish.
Snowmen by David Dunwoody: David seems to be writing on a level like no other, bordering into dark fantasy. After indulging in Snowmen, David Dunwoody’s other works will be on my reading list.
Pieces of Me by T. G. Arsenault: This was another great piece for me. The forest bares a remarkable resemblance to Japan’s very own suicide forest. The ending isn’t for most readers, making the story definitely not for the weak-willed.
Neighborhood Watchers by Maria Alexander: Maria resonates a familiar troupe for many of us who live in the suburbs, and at times the tale itself reminds one of an almost missing Robert Bloch tale – although most writers take it upon themselves to write about esoteric and spooky occult themes, most never really touch the truth on these matters. Maria seems to have a knack for making it seem real to the reader, and besides, everybody needs a Halloween tale in a horror anthology. Papa Legba, we praise you!
The Story of Jessie and Me by Michael Johnson: Michael’s tale uses the apocalyptic genre with one key ingredient… hope. Making use of these themes allows the reader to be hooked. Michael carefully caresses the human spirit throughout the story, allowing the tale to be inspirational by teaching us, as humans, that no matter the odds waged against us, we must always remain with a level of balance.
I Will Be The Reflection Until The End by Michael Bailey: Every so often, the world is adorned with an old soul, and in turn, the world gains in the process. This makes the old soul somewhat of a higher nature, but is in constant purgatory due to its own surroundings – never truly developing and showing the many flaws of mankind’s fundamental lack to evolve. Whilst reading, I kept reminding myself of the quote: “Man kills everything.”
The Honeymoon’s Over by E. E. King: “Sadness” is what I came away with in this story, and for Ben Eads’ wise placement of the story. The Honeymoon’s Over resonated some deep feelings for me. It’s beautifully written with a unique passion that actually becomes quite scary. This quality is seldom seen in most horror.
Song in a Sundress by Darren Speegle: It would be a bad thing if one reviews this anthology and allows the usual typecasting entrapment. So, like so many stories in Tales from the Lake Vol. 4, Song in Sundress is something special, and is actually quite frightening.
Weighing In by Cynthia Ward: This is a fine read and actually quite fun! It allows the reader to feel that the situation is escapable. The surroundings and the world Cynthia creates make the tale feel quite dangerous and entertaining.
Other stories in Tales From the Lake Vol 4 include:
Reliving the Past by Michael Haynes: A quite scary tale that comes highly recommended.
The Long Haul by Leigh M. Lane: Like a few other tales in this volume, this was a depressing entry and in the end, I wanted more.
Dust Devils by Mark Cassell: As soon as I heard the title Dust Devils, I randomly thought of the epic South African horror movie Dust Devil directed by Richard Stanley, who is a close contact of myself and my wife… and you know what they say about assumption. Dust Devils is cracking with imagination and a unique construction within the horror realm. This one is a perfect Lovecraftian mythos overture, and you can’t help but get a strange feeling that higher forces are just waiting for us humans to strive to obtain forbidden knowledge… or leave the front door open, so to speak.
Liminality by Del Howison: Howison allows us to feel the power of ego and to reevaluate the trappings of pride, forcing us to reflect inward on familiar themes we face everyday.
The Gardener by Gene O’Neill: A shattering portrayal of childhood, kidulthood and adulthood, with very unexpected outcomes.
Condo by the Lake by Jeff Cercone: Yet another sad piece from Tales From the Lake that is spliced with horror. Possibly another standout alongside Everything Hurts, Until It Doesn’t, Pieces of Me and Go Warily After Dark.
The last tale:
Although the large page count in Tales From the Lake Vol. 4 was sometimes difficult to get through, and at times I binged like an addict on two to three stories at a time.
Ben Eads clearly had no problems putting this rare and wonderful anthology together. The result has no filler stories – making the collection fresh and unique, and something very different from Crystal Lake Publishing. The only downfall being that it would have been a joy to read more from unknown authors, as all these contributors are highly skilled in the world of horror fiction, and this can be felt even more so after reading the volume.
There really seems to be no theme other than the negatives of life, which makes the horror far more profound, helping to deliver a collection that is both diverse and fresh. Each tale here has something for everybody.
We at Pophorror highly recommend you order yourself a copy of Tales From the Lake Vol. 4 and be prepared to be swayed and horrified, as a part of you will be lost forever in the ripples of Crystal Lake.