Friday, January 5, 2007


Horrorween by Al Sarrantonio is ok. It's not the great horror novel but it gets the job done.

Essentially you have two short stories, Hornets & The Pumpkin Boy, along with a novella, Orangefield. Each of these stories were published on their own originally and that's how they read in this book. While there are small elements that connect them along with the monster "Sam" aka: Samhain. Horrorween won't be on my re-read list but it's ok. Consider it to be safe horror.

Because we have three stories I'll cover them individually.

Hornets - What happens when a writer suffers writers block? Does it affect just the writer or those he loves? How much is he willing to trade to great stories again? The writer in Hornets has to write a horror story for children but has hit the block. It's only after his wife threatens to leave him that he has the idea to conver Samhain, the Lord of Death, to a spooky but friendly children's character named Sam. This explains why he isn't referred to as Samhain much during the rest of the book. A good short story.

Intermission - Samhain talks with a dark force/power that needs him to set it free.

The Pumpkin Boy - Sci-fi horror. There is what appears to be a boy with a pumpkin for a head wandering the fields of Orangefield. Young Jody Wendt sees the Pumpkin Boy and can't help but follow him in the hopes of learning more about him. A police officer from Hornets reappears in The Pumpkin Boy to help connect to the two stories but to also serve a vital role. Where does this Pumpkin Boy come from? Why does he lead small children from their homes and across the pumpkin fields? What secret does the new detective in town keep that can answer these questions? Like Hornets this is a good short story, especially if you like a bit of sci-fi / technology thrown in with your horror.

Intermission - Samhain talks with a dark force/power that needs him to set it free.

Orangefield - This is the most graphic of the three stories. The name of the town all three of the stories have taken place in. Very little in common with the first two stories and stands on it's own. Sam really takes on the monster role in this story with the various ways he motivates people to do his bidding. To set the dark force free three suicides are required. It's not specified why three or why they have to be suicides. Why not sacrifices of loved ones? There is also a time line continuity problem with one of the characters. In two days he will go from raving lunatic to a level headed, as level as he can be, after being arrested, processed by the court, presented to a judge, then experiencing shock therapy, talk therapy and medicine therapy. All within two days? It's a bit much. Of all of the characters to appear in this story I found The Pumpkin Tender to be the most realistic but that is probably because we both have a military background.

Afterward - Samhain talks with a dark force/power that needs him to set it free.

I found the ending to be a bit of a let down. It seemed too predictable plus it was a very open ending for a sequel. Speaking of which, a sequel was written. It seems Al comes back to Orangefield a few times to tell stories. Nothing wrong with that. Look at how many stories Stephen King got out of Castle Rock.

The book is a nice distraction and easy to read. Hardcore horror fans will want more but for the casual reader it's a nice horror treat.

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