Weird Rhody – Five Tales From The Ocean State That Aren’t…Quite Right: Edited By Rob Borkowski
Reviewed By J.A. Sullivan
Most horror fans will know Rhode Island as the birthplace of H. P. Lovecraft, but as clearly shown in Weird Rhody: Five Tales from the Ocean State that Aren’t…Quite Right this state is still home to many writers spinning strange tales. This anthology of five unique short stories packs in a whole lot of weird, from everyday horrors like a missing child to long-forgotten legends, serial killers to paranormal encounters.
The collection begins with “Spending a Day” by Dennis J. Kafalas about a father on vacation with his family. One morning, on his usual routine of stealing a few quiet moments to himself by setting up beach chairs, Don is approached by a young girl who appears to be lost. With the red flag out warning of dangerous surf conditions, Don begins to panic as she edges closer and closer to the water’s edge. But in the end, he may be the one being saved. Haunting and beautifully written, this story gets under your skin and wriggles beneath the surface.
My favourite story in the anthology was “The Winning Streak” by Paul Lonardo, which explores the sinister side of maintaining sports rituals. For years “Bump” Elliot has wondered what happened to his old baseball teammate Ron Flury who abruptly disappeared from the sports scene just as his career was taking off. When they meet by chance at a run-down bar, Ron lets Bump in on the secret to his winning streak. I’ve heard of plenty of strange superstitions held by athletes, but this one gave me shivers.
Next, Bob Sherman weaves a tale of political corruption, mafia connections, and a hitman who seems to be indestructible in “The Greater Good.” Main character Anthony is an ex-cop turned P.I., hired by a mob-wife to secure a confession from her husband’s killer. Not wanting to become the next name on Gerry Spyder’s hitlist, Anthony is confronted with a dilemma, but may have an ingenious solution to keep himself out of danger.
“Blind Demo” by G. A. Miller starts off on what should be one of the happiest days of Tommy’s life. As he’s preparing to leave his job as a radio DJ to propose to his girlfriend, a strange man drops off a blind demo. There’s something about the mysterious record that fellow DJ Bobby can’t ignore, and as he covers the station after Tommy leaves, he’s unable to resist listening to it. Then all hell breaks loose! Miller does an excellent job of establishing the small town and the folks who live there before wreaking havoc. Balancing the hopeful anticipation of Tommy with brutal scenes of violence, this is a story you don’t want to miss.
In “Wight Christmas,” author and anthology editor Rob Borkowski brings an ancient Babylonian festival to life when Louis finds an antique Christmas tree ornament inscribed with ‘Mock King for Marduk.’ The following year Edward, his former lover turned roommate, is determined to prevent Louis’ seemingly endless Christmas season by throwing out the tree and ornaments before the first snowflake hits the ground. Accidentally breaking the ‘Mock King’ ornament, Edward is about to find out first-hand how Marduk deals with thieves. I hadn’t heard of the Festival of Zagmuk prior to reading this story, and I really liked how the author fitted the past and present together.
These five stories all delve into the realm of weirdness in different ways, giving the anthology strong Twilight Zone vibes, and I really enjoyed the variety. While I liked all the stories, it felt like some of them could have been expanded to strengthen the plots, and overall, I wished more stories were included to introduce readers to even more Rhode Island writers. But, if weirdness is your jam, Weird Rhody: Five Tales from the Ocean State that Aren’t…Quite Right certainly delivers.
Weird Rhody – Five Tales From The Ocean State That Aren’t…Quite Right
Weird Rhody collects five short tales from Rhode Island authors set in the Ocean State. Within its pages, a father meets a mysterious little girl during a trip to the beach, aging athletes explore the limits of superstition, a killer boasts superhuman abilities, a small town listens to an hauntingly influential tune, and a Grinch learns the hard way that you shouldn’t take the Christmas spirit for granted.
J. A. Sullivan is a horror writer and paranormal enthusiast, based in Brantford, ON, Canada. Attracted to everything non-horror folks consider strange, she’s spent years as a paranormal investigator, has an insatiable appetite for serial killer information, and would live inside a library if she could.
As curator of “Scary’s Voices” on Kendall Reviews, an article series reviewing horror podcasts, Sullivan loves listening to all things spooky. If you have a horror podcast recommendation, let her know.
On top of contributing short stories to Kendall Reviews, her fiction has appeared in Don’t Open the Door (2019), It Came From The Darkness (2020), and she acted as an assistant editor for Black Dogs, Black Tales (2020). Other spooky tales and updates on her writing journey can be found on her blog.
You can follow J. A. on Twitter @ScaryJASullivan
Check out her blog https://writingscaredblog.wordpress.com
Find her on Instagram www.instagram.com/j.a_sullivan
Find her on Instagram www.instagram.com/j.a_sullivan