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    Strong third volume for this anthology

    I received an advance reader copy (arc) of this book for the purpose of providing an honest review. As I have mostly enjoyed the previous two installments of this anthology, I was truly looking forward to this, the third installment. With three (supposed) heavy hitters and two (to me) unknowns, this anthology certainly had great potential. Whether it lived up to that potential or not remained to be seen. The brightest star was certainly The Lone One and Level Sands Stretch Far Away. At the complete opposite end of the spectrum was The Collected Short Stores of Freddie Prothero. I have never been a fan of Straub's writing and this story is a pretty darn good explanation as to why. Overall, I would consider this anthology a bit stronger than volume 2 buoyed mostly by Hodge's story and would rate it just over 4 stars. This anthology includes these stories: —The Collected Short Stories of Freddie Prothero, by Peter Straub. As I have read reviews of other works by Straub, one overwhelming opinion is that you will either love his work or hate it. I can honestly say that the only thing that I have read by Straub that I even remotely enjoyed was The Talisman and Black House. I just with that I could get back the time I invested in reading this short story. The idea was intriguing, but it shouldn't require so much effort to make heads or tails out of a story. As others have said, what's the use of a story that can't even be deciphered. 0.5 Stars —Group of Thirty, by Jack Ketchum. I more often than not like Ketchum's writing. I have to be careful as it is usually brimming with violence and depravity that puts it on the borderline of what I can stomach. Not so with this story, which seems at least slightly autobiographical. While there was great tension and build-up at which Ketchum is an artist, the shocking turn was jarring without being bloody (much). 3.5 Stars —Nancy, by by Darynda Jones. I wasn't familiar with Jones' work before this story but, based on this taste, am interested in seeking out more of her work. This was essentially an olde timey ghost story with a little murder mystery thrown in. It wouldn't have hurt my feelings if it had been longer. 3.5 Stars —I Love You Charlie Pearson, by Jacquelyn Frank. Another author with whom I'm not familiar which, given how much I enjoyed this story, is a very bad thing. What appears to be your typical stalking and kidnapping story turns out to be nothing of the sort! The tables are turned and then some! 4.0 Stars —The Lone One and Level Sands Stretch Far Away, by Brian Hodge. I have enjoyed what I have read by Hodge and I was surely not disappointed with this read. I felt that the atmospheric buildup was so in depth and involved that I surely must have been reading for dozens of pages. There was also a depth of character development, even for the peripheral characters, the belies this story's short length. Certainly a testament to the condition of our man-made world as it ages and decays around us. 4.5 Stars
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