A Cauldron of Uncanny Dreams – Reviews

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Summary

Stars Reviews Percent
5 Stars 29 59%
4 Stars 15 31%
3 Stars 4 8%
2 Stars 1 2%
1 Star 0 0%
4.5 Stars 49 Reviews 100%

5 Star Reviews

28) A great book of short spooky stories ★★★★★

By Sophie Narey (Bookreview-aholic) on 3 August 2021 (Amazon UK Review and Goodreads Review)

Ah, I love a book of short stories! This book does not disappoint, full of great short scary stories with twists that you will never see coming, they certainly keep you on your toes! Even though these kind of spooky stories are generally read around Halloween, this book fits perfectly for any late night reading to set the scene. All of the stories were brilliantly written, funny and spooky.

I received an advance review copy for free, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.

27) Margaret’s Review ★★★★★

By Margaret on 30 June 2021 (Goodreads Review)

Well written! Dark! Spooky! Horrific! Scary!
Wow! It made me want more!
Expect the unexpected!
This book grabs you from the very first sentence!
You are horrified, and then a slow smile spreads across your face.
You are hooked! You want more. Tell me more. Each story presents its own sweet, dark twisted secret, and you don’t want to miss it. Sadly it came to an end. No more to read. Mr. Firesmith give us more. Twisted readers, this book calls out to you. Don’t miss it. Read and enjoy!
I received an ARC free from BookSirens, and this is my voluntary honest review.

26) Magnetic reads! ★★★★★

By Amy Shannon (Amy’s Bookshelf Reviews) on 28 June 2021 (Amazon US Review, Goodreads Review, and Amy’s Bookshelf Reviews)

This collection of innovative thinking (or uncanny dreams) by Firesmith is a remarkable work of words. The words almost haunted the pages, as the first thought, “Her Mother’s Eyes,” definitely caught my attention. I must admit, how I loved reading all of the unique stories, I really enjoyed “The Collector.” I kept going back to that particular story, though each story was more interesting than the one before it. I enjoyed reading this collection, and entering the mind of this talented storyteller. Such a wonderful read. My favorite was “The Collector,” and I enjoyed the simplest story, the first one, “Her Mother’s Eyes.” I love the innovative, unique thinker who puts thoughts on a paper and makes it a story. This is one book I will not forget. It’s been a while since I read Firesmith’s work, but I’m glad I have a few more of his to read. I look forward to reading more by this author. This book is a definite recommendation by Amy’s Bookshelf Reviews.

26) ⭐️ Full-bodied short stories. A real readers delight ⭐️ ★★★★★

By B. Sinsational on 12 June 2021 (Amazon US Review and Goodreads Review)

This is a collection of short, but full-bodied, stories.

Many times short stories feels chopped or unsatisfactory, BUT that is not the case here.

These stories, even if they are short, do not feel anything but complete and full. You will find the same masterly penned story-line, character and twists all expertly doused to perfection with mind boggling and witty language that is the hallmark of this author.
Obviously this is penned by a masterly skilled author; that is very obvious, especially in the brilliant buildup (to a crescendo).

In short I would say it’s done in such a way that it becomes not only a series of short stories, but delicate morsels of readers delight.

25) Wonderful short stories! ★★★★★

By Linda Abbott on 12 June 2021 (Amazon US Review and Goodreads Review)

Wonderful book with short stories if you want to read before going to bed. One story reminds me of Stephen King’s Needful Things with a twist. All the stories in this book is good!

I would recommend this book to anyone!

Would I read it again? Yes.

I received an advance review copy for free, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.

24) Ruth Wood’s Review ★★★★★

By Ruth Wood on 24 March 2021 (Goodreads Review)

I was given a copy of this book by Voracious Readers in exchange for an honest review. I really enjoyed this book. It is a collection of short stories that reminded me of the types of stories in Tales of the Unexpected or Inside Number 9. The stories were about a variety of creepy situations without being gory, so good for any fans of horror stories. I loved these stories, and I will read more by this writer.

23) Fantastic collection of stories ★★★★★

By Samantha Wood on 23 March 2021 (Amazon AU Review and Goodreads Review)

Loved this collection of short stories. They were just the perfect amount of creepy in the well written way that all the best stories are. Donald Firesmith uses twists, suspense and atmosphere expertly to give you

Loved this collection of short stories. They were just the perfect amount of creepy in the well written way that all the best stories are. Donald Firesmith uses twists, suspense and atmosphere expertly to give you chills. No cheap jump scares or excessive gore to shock here.

These are the kind of stories I imagine telling around a campfire to freak out my friends and family.
Thank you for letting me read this wonderful book.

Disclaimer: I was given a free copy of this book through Voracious Readers Only in exchange for a honest review.

22) Paige Smith’s Review ★★★★★

By Paige Smith on 7 March 2021 (Goodreads Review)

This book had a variety of different stories from arsonists to ghosts. I loved reading each one, the whole book only took me a couple of hours. Each story was written fantastically, I especially love how the author told you at the back of the book how he came up with each story, authors don’t normally do that.

21) Catherine Pratt’s Review ★★★★★

By Catherine Pratt on 6 March 2021 (Goodreads Review)

I LOVED this book!! A series of short stories that are actually weird. I loved at least 3 of the stories. I just wish these stories were actual novels or simply a longer story to put it in the novella category. Great read and a fun read.

I received a free copy of the book and is voluntarily leaving a review.

20) Tara’s Review ★★★★★

By Tara on 23 February 2021 (Goodreads Review)

I received a complimentary review copy of this book through voracious readers.

It was my first book through voracious readers, so I was a little unsure of what to expect. I was honestly really surprised by how good it was! I was literally hooked from the first page. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it even though I’m not a person who usually reads these types of books. The author’s writing style is really good and very easy to follow. I would definitely rather read these short stories in my English class rather than the ones we’ve been repeating every single year!

19) Priyanka’s Review ★★★★★

By Priyanka on 23 February 2021 (Goodreads Review)

Hello readers,
I got this beautiful book from Voracious Readers. Its worth reading for those who do not like to read long novels and [are] interested in horror stories. All the stories in this book are good and scary. [One] climax part given is so scarily written, and once you start you cannot stop yourself from reading the whole. I personally suggest you to buy and read this awesome book.
Thank you.

18) Tom Marshall’s Review ★★★★★

By Tom Marshall on 23 February 2021 (Goodreads Review)

Really excellent group of short stories. I personally really enjoyed “The Collector” the most, though each one was interesting and very well-written.

I would definitely read more work by this author.

17) A collection of spooky tales for a winter’s night ★★★★★

By Janet Leach on 17 February 2021 (Amazon UK Review and Goodreads Review)

Fans of Tales of the Unexpected or Inside Number 9 should definitely get themselves a copy of A Cauldron of Uncanny Dreams. This collection of spooky, unsettling tales makes a perfect Halloween treat. I can imagine listening to “The Collector” being read aloud by a log fire on a dark Autumn night. Or hearing “The Farmers Daughter” on a snowy Christmas Eve. For readers that like to be spooked by things that go bump in the night, “The Haunting of Ederescu House” is the tale for you!
A Cauldron of Uncanny Dreams is an entertaining, easy to read anthology. I enjoyed it.

16) Ruby Thompson’s Review ★★★★★

By Ruby Thompson on 5 February 2021 (Goodreads Review)

This fantastic little collection of short stories had me hooked from the very beginning. Each story brings to life a whole new set of characters and has an unexpected ending that just leaves you wanting more!

15) Sue Watchorn’s Review ★★★★★

By Sue Watchorn on 4 February 2021 (Goodreads Review)

I was captivated from the first page. I love short stories, and this book follows along the lines of The Twilight Zone, with endings that will make you reread the story to try and work out the twist.
I loved all the characters, and the authors writing style flows easily and sets the scene with delicate descriptions.
I now want to read all his books, as I love this genre, couldn’t put it down.

14) Great Short Horror Stories ★★★★★

By Evilblackraven (Cassie) on 3 February 2021 (Amazon US Review and Goodreads Review)

Amazon Review:
I really enjoyed this compilation of short Horror stories. It is a well written book, and I flew though it, I was so interested! I would definitely suggest this for anyone looking for a book of short Horror stories.

Goodreads Review:
This is a great book of short scary stories. It’s well written, and I really enjoyed getting drawn in. Some of them, I even wish there was more to read!

13) Enjoyable read! ★★★★★

By Julie (BooksShelf reviewer) on 31 January 2021 (Amazon US Review [deleted] and Goodreads Review)

A Cauldron of Uncanny Dreams is a great collection of short stories. I’m glad I had the chance to read them.
These short stories are thrilling and exciting – most are scary and violent at times but totally worth your time.

I enjoyed A Cauldron of Uncanny Dreams, and I recommend it!

12) Interesting, stories that grab you! ★★★★★

By shezza1511 (Sheryl Paxton) on 26 January 2021 (Amazon UK Review)

I have just finished reading A Cauldron of Uncanny Dreams, and I must say I really enjoyed it. The stories were just the right length, but also had plenty of depth, and weren’t your usual, predictable, scary stories. Definitely worth a read! 🙂

11) A fantastically written anthology ★★★★★

By Nova Thomson on 23 January 2021 (Amazon UK Review and Goodreads Review)

This is a fantastic read. I read it in a couple of hrs. If you have read Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, then you will absolutely love this. The stories are fantastically written. This is the first thing I have read from this author, but I guarantee you it won’t be the last.
The only thing that disappointed me was that there were not more stories.

10) Great anthology ★★★★★

By Client d’Amazon (Ingrid Monteilhet) on 18 January 2021 (Amazon UK Review)

I received a complimentary copy from Voracious Readers Only.
Some of these stories will chill you to the bone!
I particularly enjoyed “The Haunting of the Ederescu House.” It felt like I was watching one of those ghost hunting TV shows.
“The Farmer’s Daughter” is quite touching, although eerie.
Because of “Her Mother’s Eyes,” I will never hear this saying the way it’s intended to now!

9) Clever, creepy short stories with twists. ★★★★★

By Karen Shield on 14 January 2021 (Amazon UK Review and Goodreads Review)

I absolutely loved this book and read it in one sitting! A collection of very clever short stories, each with an unexpected twist. The style of stories reminded me of the Tales of the Unexpected TV series. Each one made me smile. I can’t wait to see what else this talented author has produced.

I received this book free from “Voracious Readers Only” in exchange for an honest review.

8) Captivating ★★★★★

By Leslie Bradley on 9 January 2021 (Amazon US Review)

I was hooked from the start! Great stories and kept me wanting more! Loved it.

7) Great variety of short stories! ★★★★★

By Darla Mathews on 5 January 2021 (Amazon US Review)

I received a copy of this from the author through Voracious Readers Only, and this is my honest review. I really enjoyed all the stories but think my favorite is the second one about the collector. I thought it to be pretty original as it is not your average scary story. I could see this made into a Twilight Zone episode. The rest of the stories are very good, and I flew through the whole book in less than an hour. Thoroughly enjoyed!

6) Surprising, Clever and Uncanny! ★★★★★

By Margaret Bentley on 4 January 2021 (Amazon US Review and Goodreads Review)

A Cauldron of Uncanny Dreams by Donald Firesmith is a sneaky clever collection of amazing little stories you won’t soon forget. Once I read the first little snippet, I just had to have more!

5) Barbara Parr’s Review ★★★★★

By Barbara Parr on 3 January 2021 (Goodreads Review)

Very much enjoyed this book from start to finish. Definitely recommend this book. Wording was easy to understand. Can’t wait to read the other volumes. I will be looking for other books by this author.

4) Brilliant book of fun short stories ★★★★★

By Kindle Customer on 27 December 2020 (Amazon UK Review)

I was very very lucky to have been asked to proof read this book, which I was of course very excited to do. This is a book of fun short stories, and many have very unexpected twists at the end. The stories are fun to read and well written, which of course I wouldn’t expect anything less from one of my favourite authors, and as always, this new book didn’t disappoint. If you enjoy reading fun short stories full of fun twists and turns, this is a book you will enjoy.

3) Great Read ★★★★★

By Brandon Cooper on 23 December 2020 (Amazon US Review and Goodreads Review)

I loved this book. It was fun read, especially the short story of the farmer’s daughter. That story was the most heartwarming, and different from all the others, in that it wasn’t scary or violent, but just sad. I also liked the new addition of Billy the Arsonist, as that story seemed to be inspired by the Hell Holes series.

2) Good Scary Stories ★★★★★

By Raymond Quick on 14 December 2020 (Amazon US Review and Goodreads Review)

This book takes me back to a TV program of the 1960s called The Twilight Zone. It had many stories that were of the same kind as in the book. Needless to say, I enjoyed the book. These are good stories and looking forward to more coming from this author.

1) It’s Good To Be Scared ★★★★★

By Ann Keeran on 7 December 2020 (Amazon US Review and Goodreads Review)

Amazon:
An anthology of strange stories made for enjoyment late at night. An exciting and fun book to read.

Goodreads:
Strange stories, scary stuff and fun for all. A great book to read late at night, maybe when there is a full moon or a thunderstorm with tons of lighting. You get the picture, now get the book!

4 Star Reviews

15) Tam’s Review ★★★★☆

By Tam Windsor on 16 July 2021 (Goodreads Review and BookBub Review)

This is a fantastically-captivating set of shorts with just enough spookiness and creep factor to make you want to keep the lights on at night! If you want to scare yourself, in the best of ways, this collection of stories is not to be missed.

*I received a complimentary copy of this book in order to read and provide a voluntary, unbiased and honest review, should I choose to do so.

14) Weslyn’s Review ★★★★☆

By Weslyn on 29 June 2021 (Goodreads Review)

Overall, the stories in this collection are excellent despite being mildly predictable. I thoroughly enjoyed them aside from maybe The Vow, which was good, but not quite my cup of tea. If you’re looking for a quick, fun read you should definitely check it out.

I received a digital copy for review through BookSirens.

13) Raisa’s Review ★★★★☆

By AFIFA ALAM RAISA on 16 June 2021 (Goodreads Review)

“Even though the lack of footprints proved I was alone, I couldn’t help feeling that I was being watched from those shadows, that something glared at me with malice and resented my intrusion into its dark domain.” – Donald Firesmith (The Haunting of the Ederescu House)

A creepy yet captivating read.

‘A Cauldron of Uncanny Dreams’ is a collection of short stories (with a couple of poems to initiate and punctuate the journey) that do justice to the captivating title.

The author did a smart job with the placement of the short poem at the beginning. My attention was immediately grabbed by it and I knew what could be expected from the book. The style of narration and the overall presentation was decent enough to keep me glued till the end. It deserves to be mentioned that the author has a pretty good hand at poetry.

The inspiration behind each piece was mentioned at the end of the book. It was once again a witty move; I believe additions like this allow the readers to understand a work better by providing them with a clearer look at what was going on in the author’s mind during its creation.

A few places could use different words and sentence structure, but otherwise, it was an enjoyable book.

Recommended to the fans of this genre.

(I have received a copy for free, and I am leaving this review voluntarily)

12) I Love A Good Story! ★★★★☆

By Jlynne on 26 March 2021 (Amazon US Review)

Original, quick to read stories! A few surprises mixed in. Overall, well worth reading. I definitely will be reading more from this author!

11) Julia’s Review ★★★★☆

By Julia on 13 March 2021 (Goodreads Review)

This is a review given in exchange for a free copy of the book. This is still an honest, unbiased review. The short stories in this book are very good; a few of them gripped me immediately and left me wishing the story had been longer. All the stories are well written with a good balance between descriptions and plot. Some of the twist are easy to figure out before the reveal, but I think that shows a credit to the author’s skill at leading a reader well. The only reason a star has been removed is due to a few of the themes being is the pacing of some of the stories felt off to me; they were a little too slow at first but overall a very good collection.

10) Good Collection of Short Horror Stories ★★★★☆

By Amazon Customer on 17 February 2021 (Amazon UK Review)

I really enjoyed this book. I received it free for an honest review.
There are some really good stories here, some endings I was able to predict but the book is well worth the read.

9) Great Collection of Short Stories ★★★★☆

By Jeanette H. (Jin) on 13 February 2021 (Amazon UK Review and Goodreads Review)

Good collection of short stores, really enjoyed reading them. I would say they are more eerie/creepy than scary, but they do make you think. If your looking for something to read while curled up with a cuppa, this is perfect!

8) Jacki Brayshaw’s review ★★★★☆

By Jacki Brayshaw on 10 February 2021 (Goodreads Review)

I received this anthology free in return for an honest review.

I’ve never heard of this author before.

I was pleasantly surprised by these short stories, nothing that chilled me to the bone the way Stephen King does, but a collection of good old fashioned horror tales that could be told around campfires to give everyone the creeps just before bed. Some had predictable endings, but I am genuinely pleased that I chose this book as it provided a pleasant way to spend an hour this evening.

I feel the author has the ability to write something truly chilling, and I’ll look out for his other books.

7) Tabetha Slade’s review ★★★★☆

By Tabetha Slade on 6 February 2021 (Goodreads Review)

I received a complimentary review copy of this book from voracious readers, and I was a little on-the-fence about if it was really something I would like.

I’m glad I decided to give it a go, as I found it to be a lovely collection of short spooky stories. Probably not something you should read before bed, although that depends on how your mind works (for me watching/reading anything that could resemble the Horror genre can result in me ‘seeing things’ for days). I liked that those stories that could have gone further into the realms of horror stopped before then – almost on a cliff-hanger, but still enough for the story to be complete.

Some of the stories are more ‘spooky,’ Halloween themed, whilst others creep into the darker realms. All of them started as if they would finish one way and then took a turn to end in a different way.

6) Mary Palenque’s review ★★★★☆

By Mary Palenque on 3 February 2021 (Goodreads Review)

I love reading stories in the style of The Twilight Zone or Outer Limits and this book did not disappoint. Short stories that were easy to read with satisfying endings. I especially liked “Her Mother’s Eyes.” I just had to share it with my husband as soon as I finished it.

This book was given as a complimentary gift from the author through Voracious Readers Only.

5) Classic horror fans – REJOICE! ★★★★☆

By Melanie S. on 26 January 2021 (Amazon US Review and Goodreads Review)

If you are fond of shivery TV memories like The Alfred Hitchcock Hour or The Twilight Zone, Donald Firesmith is your writer. This creepy little tome will revive your chills, renew your thrills, and take you to a different dimension of suspense, horror, and amazement. A Cauldron of Uncanny Dreams will seed your dreams with the ghosts of Poe, Hitchcock, and Serling, then leave you in stunned gratitude that it’s only a story… you hope. This is a voluntary – if somewhat spooked – ARC review.

4) Short Thrills ★★★★☆

By Brittnie on 24 January 2021 (Amazon US Review, Goodreads Review, and B’S THOUGHT PAD AND BOOK SPACE Review)

Brittnie’s Website:
This compilation of short stories, written by Donald Firesmith, tracks to the edge of horror and thrill. For those ’90s kids such as myself, think Are You Afraid of the Dark. For those of you slightly before the original Nickelodeon channel, perhaps the Twilight Zone is a better reference. These stories were not ones to keep me up at night; rather, they are a window into an alternative state of being. I could almost hear the “What if …” that created the idea of each story for Firesmith. “What if that run down farmhouse is only a figment of a time past?” or “What if a woman obsessed were to become one with that in which she obsessed?” For some, such a peek will be enough to shudder and feel the goosebumps creep up their arms. For others, it will be a delightful thrill of contemplation into their own “What if …”. Definitely a collection for those that enjoy the questions of what lies in the dark corners or just beyond the reach of the headlights on a cold, dark night.

Goodreads:
This compilation of short stories tracks to the edge of horror and thrill. In line with Are You Afraid of the Dark and Twilight Zone, for me, these stories were not ones to keep me up at night; rather, it was a window into an alternative state of being. I could almost hear the “What if …” that created the idea of each story for Firesmith. For some, such a peek will be enough to shudder and feel the goosebumps creep up their arms. For others, it will be a delightful thrill of contemplation into their own “What if …” Definitely a collection for those that enjoy the questions of what lies in the dark corners or just beyond the reach of the headlights on a cold, dark night.

3) Ye Olde Bookworm’s Review ★★★★☆

By Ye Old Bookworm on 14 January 2021 (Goodreads Review)

I received a copy of this anthology in exchange for an honest review.

A Cauldron of Uncanny dreams by Donald Firesmith is your classic “shouldn’t read before bedtime” rush. The stories it contains are traditional spooks, with ghosts, demons and voodoo witches hiding behind every corner. A few of the stories I found perhaps a little lacklustre, as I predicted their ending, and they read like a creepy pasta. But, they weren’t unenjoyable, they were just things I had seen before. With that said, I greatly enjoyed the first, and last few stories in the book, as they truly did surprise me.

One thing I will say is that if you are already much acquainted with the horror genre and/or paranormal activity, these will likely be just a bit of fun for you rather than core-shakingly shocking. There isn’t anything obscene here, which makes it the perfect read if you’re beginning to get into horror, or if you’re an absolute scaredy-cat.

*SPOILERS FROM HERE ON IN!!!!*

Now, do not think this a negative review in the slightest, I very much did enjoy the majority of stories, I just wasn’t gripped by them. I think this might have been to a lack of detail here and there. For instance: I couldn’t picture a few parts of each story, and in Madame Kaldunya’s Dolls I couldn’t tell you a single defining physical feature of any character. This may be me overlooking something, but I should have some sort of description in my mind, even if it strays from the original detailing.

The fluidity of writing was also sometimes an issue. I feel like in some areas there could have been much more building up for a more profound effect in the reader. I think the writing style is fantastically clear and concise, and it has the ghostly flare so many horror authors seem to lack, however sometimes the anticipation just fell short for me. For example: in Billy the Arsonist, I was so very ready to finally have some action! But all we got was some sinister slicing of the thigh and then he’s just chilling in hell? We should have been hooked, shocked at the gruesome detailing of his punishment, we should be right there as he’s screaming in pain and *then* dies. He shouldn’t just go peacefully- that isn’t satisfying enough for the reader. The build-up in conversation was fantastic, but that only meant the ending felt more anti-climatic, as we didn’t receive this justice we had been promised quite as we would have liked.

There’s also something to be said about the atmosphere with which Firesmith seems to write with ease. From the beginning of each story, there’s a certain uneasiness communicated. It’s the feeling of waking up in the middle of the night or coming across an abandoned fairground, there’s an inherent wrongness here, and I feel like he achieves this well. My favourite part of the entire book is In Madame Kaldunya’s Dolls where we finally find out about what on earth happened after Isabella’s oh-so-dramatic-fall (which was also just recounted in a few sentences, without any sort of meat on it. I wasn’t invested in it, it just happened). I adored the part with the Dr and the Detective, it was really lovely to finally be *shown* what they were thinking, and it not just be prattled off like the Edrescu House story. I LOVED that little snippet of conversation but again found it lacking at the end. I would have been ecstatic if Isabella had sat up and screamed, or if the Dr knew what had happened, anything other than “Yeah, you’ll get ’em.”

As someone with Romanian heritage and very invested in my traditions and culture, I was very, very pleasantly surprised at the level of research and consideration. I am constantly thinking that people just don’t engage with Romanian magickal and supernatural culture as much as they could, and that really saddens me. However I think Firesmith clearly saw the potential here, and ran with it, and that was absolutely fantastic to see.

In short, the book is worthy of 3, maybe 4 stars at a push in my most honest opinion. I don’t believe this is a bad piece. Neither is it my new favourite collection. It is a fun little eerie read, which has it’s low and high points. Firesmith is a fantastic dialogue writer, however, his anticipation techniques may benefit from a little polishing. I also think that he needs to think more outside the box. When reading a short story I feel like there needs to be something more. Short stories have such potential to be crafted in all sorts of weird and wonderfully creative ways, and I think this potential wasn’t used to it’s fullest. But again, a fun read and I look forward to reading more of Firesmith’s work in the future and seeing how he progresses in his writing adventures!!

2) Trinity Waddell’s Review ★★★★☆

By Trinity Waddell on 13 January 2021 (Goodreads Review)

Review through Voracious Readers

Quick thrilling wee read with this fun wee collection of scary short stories.

The highlights for me were “Her Mother’s Eyes” and “The Farmer’s Daughter.”

I read it at about 1am this morning and slept fine so not a really scary book if that’s your thing. But clever, well written and a bit of humour there too in places.

A solid 4 stars from me. ⭐⭐⭐⭐

1) A good read ★★★★☆

By Christie on 2 January 2021 (Amazon CA Review)

I was given an Arc from the author. The first one, Her Mother’s Eyes, is funny and creepy all at the same time. I loved it. The second one is The Collector and it is intriguing. Fun to read. Grandma Buford’s Birthday had a surprising twist. The Farmer’s Daughter was a great story. The Haunting of the Ederescu House was spooky and creepy to read. Madam Kaldunya’s Dolls was a good read but was kind of predictable. Billy the Arsonist had an ending that I didn’t expect. Overall, I enjoyed each story.

3 Star Reviews

4) Cavak’s Review ★★★☆☆

By Cavak on 10 September 2021 (Goodreads Review)

Almost felt like reading R.L. Stine again. Except it’s aimed at adults.

Firesmith can write. My attention was sucked by the first page. Wonderful use of brevity where it’s needed and just enough intrigue to compel a reader to continue. Quite addicting and quick to devour for an hour of reading. Everything had a sort of whimsy that I found endearing.

Primarily Western horror, so I can’t judge A Cauldron of Uncanny Dreams by its advertised scare for late night reading. No surprising twists that occurred for me. Many were conventional and expected of the genre. The pacing for introducing the horror element in each story was fantastic, yet the endings were brief. Was that meant to be a jump scare moment? But I could see that coming since the second paragraph. Ah, the horror is lost to me.

I instead enjoyed the fanciful directions and the thought-provoking extremes took within this short story collection. Won’t elaborate because I don’t wish to spoil the experience. Appreciate the author’s notes where he stated his inspirations, especially some that felt out of left field. Really, from that?

Would like to know if there are more stories that can be pulled from The Haunting of the Ederescu House, even with its ending. Like what other houses were candidates for that fake TV show?

A Cauldron of Uncanny Dreams was like riding a roller coaster: you know how it’s going to go, but it’s rough and fun anyway. An indulgent little escapade and an exciting flex of the author’s creativity while juggling two other projects. Don’t expect anything too dark and explicit with this one. It’s filled with the speculative and the feels. Rather interested to read Firesmith’s longer works!

I received an advance review copy for free, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.

3) Short interesting read ★★★☆☆

By Samuel Alexander on 9 June 2021 (Amazon US Review and Goodreads Review, and Reading Is My Drug Website Review)

This collection of stories started off well. Even with the general predictability they were still interesting reads. However, as I got further into the collection I started to like the stories less.

The Collector

This one was good. At first you couldn’t really be sure where it was going. There was talk about collecting but there were no dolls so which route was it going to go? What I liked about it to start is I didn’t like the main character. There was something decidedly fake about her that made the ending that much more enjoyable. The only problem with this story is It followed the wrong-obvious plot choice. It’s hard to believe that a woman who has lived a full life including having children, sharing her love of collecting with friends, just recently losing her husband and is as basic a human as they come, would jump to vandalism and crime. If there was some set-up in her youth to suggest this or had she done something shady to get a piece for her collection before, then great. But it was just too big of a leap to get on board with especially when readers know how this story will end. The shop owner giving the collectable to her instead and a few more pages of horror leading to the same ending would’ve still been following a used formula but at least this one would’ve fit in with what I’d expect the character to do. Still, it tied up quickly and swiftly and didn’t feel forced and the pacing was just right so overall this was a good read.

Grandma Buford’s Birthday

This one was fun to read. Just like the previous one, the pacing was fine. The set-up was good, and the main character was believable. Somewhere in the middle I knew something was off. The wording shifted somehow or maybe I just pieced it together but halfway was about when I knew whatever I had read up until then was suspect. The ending confirmed this, and it didn’t quite go the way I thought which was good. Again, with this one it ended as should be expected from short stories. Once the message has been given to the readers, essentially, the story is over which is as it should be. I enjoyed this one as well.

The Farmers Daughter

This one was the first where I saw the ending coming and it was problematic versus something I could ignore. There’s an accident and a man gets stranded. He finds a farm and gets snowed in for a day. I knew how this was going to end the moment the young lady opened up the door. It was still an okay read but it went on too long. This is a short story and I skimmed through it. The farmer getting frantic instead of just coming out with it and then running away without saying even a simple ‘that’s impossible’ was odd. If he had said it, naturally the main character would ask the waiter what it was all about and she would say what happened to the farm and, in most stories, the main character would make the necessary connections. As it is written the crazy guy runs away and the waiter doesn’t mention the Farmer’s daughter’s name, and the lead is just dismissive about the connections when it was so obvious readers know it long before he dismisses it. Then it takes the deniability bit on too long with the hunting for the farm. This story read like it was a full-length story trying to be a slow burn and, unlike the first two, didn’t go through the motions fast enough and the ending felt like it went beyond the needed end. I actually had to reread it to type this cause I skimmed through it. It was hard to get on board with the way this one panned out. Especially when weighed in with the fact most readers would know how this would end so how it gets there is the important thing. Couldn’t get into this one.

The Haunting of The Ederescu House

This one was okay. In theory, it was alright. It started off good like the previous stories, but the middle section just dragged. The information overload about the history of the house really slowed the story down. A lot. Then there was the fact the main character went to take pictures of the house, then said he had to meet a scholar for information about the house before entering, but after all this exposition he goes back to the house to take pictures and set up the ghost equipment. Why not just go straight for the information then to the house for everything after? The massive history lesson in this book could’ve been condensed, and it probably would’ve transferred a lot better in a back-and-forth dialogue than exposition. Then the end was, odd. Something about calling the ghost the way I’d call an animal towards the food placed in a trap, had me shaking my head. I had to read it twice to be sure I hadn’t missed something. This story took a lot of time to read because I was trying to make sure I got the history right so it was more work than read. Definitely not my favourite story here.

Madam Kaldunya’s Dolls

This one was almost fun. It started off well. The main characters were easy to get on board with. The fortune teller was entertaining. The set-up, though obvious again, was well played. Things were going well until the plot reached its climax. The author wanted to prolong it or turn it into something bigger but the whole police part of this tale was a hard sell. Also, if my friend just fell dead to the floor the last thing I’m doing is mentioning voodoo. You’re just going to have to arrest me. The ending of this one, much like The Farmer’s Daughter, was trying to be way more than it needed to be. A last paragraph with either the friend in jail for the murders or going to confront the fortune teller about the outcome, would’ve been shorter more compact and given closure. The other problem was no matter how many times I reread it nothing in the wording makes me think the outcome for the main character would happen and wording is key when it comes to spells gone wrong. Also when the police officer suggested at the speed the car was going to create the damage caused by the crash, that a killer somehow managed to get into the damaged car and make multiple stabs to both victims after the crash? Without disrupting the positions of the body so they don’t look staged and not trailing the huge amounts of blood those stabs would create outside the car. How, how and how, without either being in the car and magically surviving the crash or causing the crash, or somehow knowing this exact spot would be where the crash would be. Way too many questions for a short story. It was information overload like ‘The Haunting of The Ederescu House’ with the addition of not being believable. Finding the car and simply stating what was seen at the crime would’ve been enough. This one also felt like it was trying to be much bigger than what’s needed for a short story.

Billy The Arsonist

This one was fun. Boy plays with fire; boy grows to become a full-fledged arsonist; boy runs from police and meets a fate worse than death. Seriously, this was a lot of fun. The only thing about this one was, unlike the previous bits of information overload, this one could’ve used a few more paragraphs of torture, and maybe more torment in the end. Like being trapped in the room with unlimited matches that never lit but gave of scentless smoke for less than a second, torturing him with the lack of release from fire. If we’re going to hell might as well go hard. Not much to say about this one as it was good like the first two stories. It’s probably the best working story of the bunch though the two scenes of torture at the end were brief.

The Vow

Poetry. This one was simple. Easy to understand. Nothing profound but not bad either. It was okay as far as poems go. The only thing was when reading it out loud the second line is the only one that seems out of pace (yes pace). The rhythm made me stall and I had to reread the line to get back in flow. I read it with the ‘he’ repeated at the beginning of that line which solved this. Other than that, nothing much to say here.

Conclusion

I only enjoyed half of these. In those, the things that you would expect from a short story are there from pacing to nice quick yet resolved endings. The other three weren’t quite as clean and felt overdone like they were trying to be more than a short story. It gets three stars for being interesting reading and a recommendation to anyone looking for a short, 2 hour or less read. Unfortunately, three of these stories left the impression of trying too hard and it didn’t pay off as well as the other half of the collection.

2) Kylie’s Review ★★★☆☆

By Kyle on 29 March 2021 (Goodreads Review)

With thanks to Voracious readers for my copy of this title.

Not my usual reading choice, however the short stories were well written and will surely entice horror buffs.

1) Ashley’s Review ★★★☆☆

By Ashley on 12 March 2021 (Goodreads Review)

This is a quick and spooky read that I enjoyed. While I am not a big fan of the supernatural or science fiction, I found myself interested in almost all of the stories. I loved reading the afterward about how the author came about to write the specific stories. It really made me appreciate the writing more.

I would suggest this if you want a quick Halloween-esk short story novel that will keep you thinking.

2 Star Reviews

1) Amanda’s Review ★★☆☆☆

By Amanda “The BookBud” Bedingfield on 9 September 2021 (Goodreads Review)

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book, and am leaving a review voluntarily.

Highlights:
-Plot uniformity
-Narrative ability

Dissatisfactions:
-Lack of unique story lines
-Horror clichés
-Lack of build and delivery

Notable Quote(s):
I highlighted none

Rating Breakdown:
-Flow 7/10
-Plot 2/10
-Creativity 1/10

Review:
First and foremost, I appreciate that this author took the time and immense energy needed to write this book for others to enjoy. He should be applauded for the effort. As for my review, while I loathe giving a bad one, in this case I found it necessary. Let’s start with a look at horror anthologies overall. A well produced and captivating horror anthology is difficult to achieve, especially when being written by one author. You have limited time to draw in the reader, build the anticipation that creates fear while reading, then create a wallop of an ending to leave said reader shocked and awed by what just happened. With short stories, that is difficult to do. There’s no give on the build so most good short horror stories focus on the finale, big reveals and strange twists, something to make it stand out or keep in the reader’s memory. In the case of this particular collection, I felt none of these literary tools used properly. I would not say this description applies to all of the stories in this collection, but it was enough to put me off from wanting to read it. Most of them held generic, tired plots without the added oomph needed to really intrigue a seasoned horror fan, with dashes of cliché lines like, “I felt drawn to it” or similar ideas which were used in nearly every story to explain the protagonist’s being involved.

I gave it a 1.5 out of 5. I really wanted to like this much more, as horror anthologies are actually one of my favorites as of the past few years, but I was deeply let down. There wasn’t any depth of character, no situational unpredictability, no build to intrigue the reader. It felt generic, like someone following a recipe of what horror is. Each story lacked a unique plot, which in and of itself is not the issue; authors like Darcy Coates and Amy Cross do this all the time, ghost story after ghost story but they write in a way that’s intriguing and captivating, even if it isn’t the greatest writing to be done, it is compelling somehow. Another example would be Goosebumps or Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, both of which are for younger readers, yes, but hold that same idea of campfire like scary stories that give you a hard hit towards the end. This however, felt like it was without that same passion. It wasn’t the worst anthology I’ve read, I just also wouldn’t recommend it to most horror fans as again, I found the writing style and delivery wanting. I want to mention a positive as well, in that I felt this author’s narrative ability. The tone of the writing was done well through voice. I think this author holds a lot of potential since, as I said, not all of the stories in this were fitting of this overall rating, so I do believe it’s possible with some more passion for the genre, or more work on emphasis in certain aspects, his writing could be amazing. I just wasn’t impressed this time.

1 Star Reviews

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