Select one of the keywords
The Two Sams: Ghost Stories    by Glen Hirshberg order for
Two Sams
by Glen Hirshberg
Order:  USA  Can
Carroll & Graf, 2003 (2003)
* * *   Reviewed by Martina Bexte

When it comes to darker fiction I've always preferred the shorter formats, especially well-crafted and quiet short stories or novellas that meander along and meander along, and then on the last page or even in the last paragraph, grab you by the throat and give you a good emotional shake. Glen Hirshberg, a new find for me, is a craftsman who's honed this particular skill in the five stories he presents in his collection, The Two Sams.

By far my favourite is Mr. Dark's Carnival, set in a small Montana college town whose residents embraces Halloween with maniacal and child-like glee. Everyone tried to out-do their neighbours with eye-popping, scary decorations, particularly recreations of the home of Mr. Dark, a local legend who doled out his own spooky brand of badlands justice during the town's wild west days. But like the prairie winds, Mr. Dark's house has long since vanished - or has it? That's the question and the quest of a college professor who grew up in Clarkston, Montana, and who looks forward to his yearly lecture about the enigmatic Mr. Dark and his darker deeds. But when Professor Roemer finally does encounter Mr. Dark's house he finds much more than he bargained for within its haunted walls.

Struwwelpeter is an equally creepy tale centering on a teenager whose violent tendencies hit close to home. And in Dancing Men, relatives of Holocaust survivors are confronted by the psychological suffering of their ancestors over and over again. The final two stories, Shipwreck Bay and The Two Sams are also very chilling. Glen Hirshberg shows a particular talent for methodically vivisecting ordinary situations to the bare bone, quietly exposing demons locked away within the human psyche. It's easy to see why the author has already won numerous accolades for his work and he'll surely collect many more. If you enjoy horror fiction with a subtle kick, then put The Two Sams on the very top of your Christmas wish list.

Note: Opinions expressed in reviews and articles on this site are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of BookLoons.

Find more Fantasy books on our Shelves or in our book Reviews