I'm a day late again; I completely blanked that yesterday was Sunday! However, since I was stuck in bed/on the couch with a cold, I ended up finishing Witches' Brew today. That leaves me with five stories to discuss, so I'll be brief.
I was very hesitant going into "The Birds" by Daphne du Marier, since I'm not a fan of the movie, but it ended up to be great. Nothing like the movie and a lot more sinister. It tells the story of what a country man does to try to protect his family when all of the birds in England mysteriously begin attacking people. Highly recommended!
On the other hand, Mary Elizabeth Counselman's "Night Court" left me cold. One night, a reckless driver gets into yet another crash and finds himself summoned to a court conducted by victims of car accidents. It was way too preachy for me to enjoy. And I saw the 'twist' a mile away.
After that, I had a real treat with "The Lovely House" by Shirley Jackson. A young girl goes to visit her friend in a big old house. But things take an odd turn or two. The ending doesn't wrap everything up; Jackson leaves that up to the reader, which I really appreciate. I'm thinking I really need to read more by Shirley Jackson (I've also read "The Lottery").
"Kindling Point" by Marcia Muller (one of the editors of the anthology, which I find sketchy) felt like an assignment for a college writing class. Take that as you will, but I found it a bit too simplistic and juvenile to enjoy. A woman in an old Victorian finds out that her daughter is talking to ghosts through a Ouijia (sp?) board; the ghosts' story seems to be eerily reflective of the present day.
And the final story was Joyce Carol Oates' "The Bingo Master." This story was very powerful, however it didn't have the slightest element of horror or supernatural or spookiness. So, I'm not sure why it's in the collection, but I'm glad I read it. I don't really want to share a plot summary, since it's the kind of writing that draws much of its power from the unfolding.
There you have it, a whirlwind tour of the last part of Witches' Brew. I'm glad I found this anthology, but I find it was of mixed quality; either the stories were incredible or bad, nothing in between.
Now for the little, bitty challenge (don't look at me that way). Literate Kitten is hosting a horror short story challenge. She's listed her top ten spooky stories and is challenging participants to read just one of them during the month of October. Also, she'd like it if participants provided their own list of ten horror tales. A lot of her selections sound very good, but I've decided to commit myself to "The Monkey's Paw." I'll also be reading another of her picks (the Isak Dinesen) as part of one of my R.I.P. II books. Makes me more excited to read it! I'm not sure if I can come up with ten good creepy stories, but I'll try...
"The Cask of Amontillado" by Edgar Allen Poe. I found this incredibly creepy, and I'm pretty sure it gave me nightmares for quite awhile.
The Birds" by Daphne du Marier. You can tell I didn't read a lot of horror short stories before the R.I.P. II challenge!
"The Lovely House" by Shirley Jackson (see above)
"Riding the Bullet" by Stephen King. I think King is scarier in short story form than novel form, and a lot of the stories in Everything's Eventual were creepy. This one has stayed with me, though.
""Snow, Glass, Apples" by Neil Gaiman. Oh my gosh-this is easily one of the creepiest stories I've ever read. It actually made the hair on my arms stand up.
"The Thing in the Wood" by A.S. Byatt. Also a very spooky tale, one that I still remember vividly after six years.
And, um, that's all I'm coming up with right now. I don't have much experience with short stories. However, my next trip to the library should help change that; I'll be coming home with the ss collections by Joyce Carol Oates, John Saul, Peter Straub, Dean Koontz, and the Oxford Book of Gothic Tales. Yay for ghost stories in October!