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In this twenty-fourth edition of the Canyons of the Damned series, we get some frightening, suspenseful and even funny tales being told here. To learn more about strange cats, government-controlled weight loss, death, an apocalypse and missing children, read onwards, starting with:
Hunter C. Eden’s “Mephisto” – Mephisto is the titular cat who was a stray before being taken in by the Daltons, a devil-worshipping family. When things change and their son is born, Mephisto discovers his purpose in life. Will his mission be understood by the humans who own him and will he succeed in it? This rich and disturbing tale is deftly told from the cat’s point of view and how he views the world. And what a world it is that he lives in! It delightfully and unexpectedly veers off into supernatural territory but yet, stays completely grounded in the emotions of the tale. Just when you thought you knew which way the story was going to go, it veers off into some unusual and surprising directions, being both uplifting and sad at the same time.
Lara Frater’s “Food Police” – Emma needs to lose weight. The government tells her so every chance it gets, denying her the sweets she so desperately craves but cannot get because she hasn’t earned enough food points. Losing weight is hard enough for her. So, how will she handle this crisis as it continues to evolve? This is an ominous tale about a police state trampling on an individual’s rights to conserve scarce food supplies and one person’s reaction to it. The degrading robots monitoring her weight and their insults just add to the frustration and you feel for Emma and her dilemma. The little bits of humor was welcomed amidst this distressing tale. And the ending was startling, devious and… ahem… delicious.
C.C. Ameel’s “The Three Ds” – This poem is about approaching death, how one person imagines it will be and what happens when it arrives. A powerful and insightful series of verses that slowly consumes your soul with its encroaching darkness.
Ian Garner’s “Ash” – Bobby is fresh off his first year of college and is spending time with his girlfriend when a fireball changes their lives forever. As Bobby tries to survive, what will happen next? Told from Bobby’s point of view, the reader feels the horror as he watches his world transform as the apocalypse devours it. This is a harrowing tale that firmly placed me in Bobby’s shoes and made me feel the terror that he experiences with each problem he faces, one after another. The ending was so unexpectedly sinister, it made me uneasily check my window to see if a mushroom cloud had appeared there when I wasn’t looking and made me thankful that it hadn’t.
Daniel Arthur Smith’s “The Lost Tapes – Audrey Blackburne” – Special agents Muldoon and Meyer are investigating a case where two children are missing, and they interview a professor who claims to know what happened to them. The insight that she shares with the agents astounded me with its unlikely implications. How it impacted the case was also a revelation, as it astutely explores its subject matter and well as set up a spookily atmospheric mood.
All of these tales were mesmerizing, sweeping me up in the stories they had to tell. They also stimulated my imagination in such a way that I imagined myself in the story and was experiencing each of them firsthand. That kind of storytelling is always welcomed by me, as I get to live multiple lives within the pages of this collection.
Also, two of these authors are new to the Canyons series, Hunter C. Eden and C.C. Ameel. Based on their contributions here, I would welcome more of their work to be featured in the future.
Ultimately, this is another winning collection in the Canyons of the Damned series. I always experience a little thrill when I see a new one is published, as I know the quality is excellent and the stories will envelop me.