4 out of 4 stars
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What flies and pounces in the night? What oozes and walks wearing a false skin? Who stares at the readers, soulless and potentially dangerous? Who are truly the monsters that capture our imaginations in Fred Wiehe’s book of short stories and poems, The Collected Nightmares? With the range of short stories in this compilation, readers get introduced to a variety of characters both good and evil. Some of the characters even toe the line and issues of morality are left up to the reader. Some characters hide dark paths under more pleasant exteriors while others are misunderstood. For instance, one character is a witch, but she is the protector of her town. The stories range between relatively short with a couple of longer ones, while a poem is featured between each one. The poems frequently reflect the pain that Wiehe has continued to experience after an accident, something he alludes to in both the dedication and inside his writing itself.
This anthology was excellent and deserves each of the 4 out of 4 stars I am bestowing upon it. On top of being well-written with hardly any errors, many of the stories result in the heart-racing sensation that one would expect from a horror compilation. The poems were organized in a way that they would relate to the following short story, a detail I appreciate. The stories were all dark, yet each twist and monster were unique. It was a wonderful read, and I do not have anything bad to say about the stories and poems themselves.
However, if I were to name the thing I most disliked, it would merely be that the portrayal of Wiehe’s pain was intense. I do not dislike that he chose to share, and I love the results. Nevertheless, recognizing the origins of the book makes some of it hard to read. Understanding that these stories have been built off of chronic pain is the closest readers can get to truly empathizing with the author. Several of the poems address this pain directly, and my heart goes out to Wiehe. The poems are still well done, but future readers should be aware that he cuts to the heart of the matter unflinchingly.
Anyone who loves to read horror or thrillers would adore this anthology. However, given that both cursing and mature themes are included in many of the stories, I would advise that readers be above seventeen years of age. There are some stories and several poems that would be fine to share with younger readers, but I would recommend that these be read out loud to prevent them from coming across the more mature sections.
If anyone reading this review is in the mood for some thrills, The Collected Nightmares by Fred Wiehe should be the next step. With witches, ghosts, demons, and general mayhem abound, there is no shortage of characters and creatures that will make readers remember the things that go bump in the night.
The Collected Nightmares
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