"Welcome to the Show" Book Review
Written by Jennifer Turner
Published by Crystal Lake Publishing
Compiled by Matt Hayward and edited by Doug Murano
2018, 220 pages, Fiction
Released on July 20th, 2018
First things first, I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised by Welcome to the Show. This is the first anthology that I have read that has an exact location in mind rather than a general theme. The location is the Shantyman, a music venue with a rather twisted past, present, and future. It reminds me of my high school creative writing class where everyone had a similar assignment only this doesn't end with me being sent to talk to the guidance counselor because my subject matter was "too dark."
My favorite story by far is "Night and Day and in Between" by Jonathan Janz. The story follows the adventures of a detective named Raft, who is looking for Clara, a girl who has run away from home to follow her dreams of being a singer. "Night and Day and in Between" is a great tale bringing to mind some of the hardboiled detective stories that were so popular in the '20s and '30s. Of course this is a horror tale and actually has a perfect twist that changes the genre without annoying the reader.
Sadly, good twists are few and far between in this collection with "In the Winter of No Love" by John Skipp and "Just to be Seen" by Somer Canyon being prime examples. "Winter of No Love" follows Marcie, a somewhat jaded teenager during the end of the Summer of Love. This particularly story spoke to me just as it would speak to anyone who watched their subculture fade into something completely different. However, Marcie falls down the rabbit hole into some dark fantasy land and frankly this twist makes no sense.
"Just to Be Seen" follows the same confusing path. This selection centers on an unnamed woman who is desperate to catch the attention of her favorite singer. She meets who I presume to be the older, bitter version of herself who tries to convince her to give up on the singer for her own good. Inexplicably the scene suddenly turns violent and ruins what had been an interesting read.
Another favorite is "Parody" by Jeff Strand. This tale is so completely ludicrous and out there that I admit I actually laughed out loud multiple times, something I rarely do in my reading. The story centers on Chester, a wannabe parody singer desperate to take the stage at the Shantyman. Like "Just to be Seen", it evolves into sudden violence, but given the wacky nature of "Parody", the violence suits the ending.
There are a lot of amazing tales in this anthology by some very creative writers and is definitely worth the read.