Walking Alone: Bentley Little (Kendall Review)

Walking Alone (released April 24th 2018 via Cemetery Dance) is Bentley Little’s second short story collection after 2002’s The Collection and features 27 tales in chronological order covering 1984 to 2017.

Walking Alone is also the first title I’ve read by an author Stephen King describes as ‘The horror poet laureate

From the mind of the man Stephen King calls “a master of the macabre” comes a brilliant new collection of no-punches-pulled horror stories, some never-before-collected and many originals that have never been published anywhere before.

In “Sticky Note,” Gary finds a note with two simple words on it in the gutter: Kill her. Was it part of someone’s to-do list? Bentley Little tells us where this yellow square piece of paper takes Gary in a way that only he can.

A bad confrontation with a maid at a fancy resort leads a couple on a chilling journey they never dreamed would happen. “The Maid” may make you think twice about asking the front desk for extra towels or complaining about anything ever again.

You’ll never think of small-town rodeos the same way after reading “The Last Rodeo on the Circuit,” and neither will Rob and Teena after they decide to take in the local bizarre entertainment in an unscheduled stop along their road trip to Vegas.

Would you anonymously write your negative thoughts about your friends in a slam book? What if the words you wrote changed things? “Slam Dance” shows you what the consequences of that might be.

Sometimes, a “Palm Reader” knows more than they’re willing to reveal to their customers, chilling things that their clients don’t really want to know. Would you tell them anyway?

Snowmen aren’t scary, right? Hal and April Katz are out on a wintery drive when they see a snowman on the side of the road. Then another that looks almost the same a few miles later. And then, hundreds of snowmen around the next bend. You might think snowmen aren’t scary, but “Snow” will prove you dead wrong.

Bentley Little can take the innocuous, twist it around, and write a story that will change your way of thinking. Walking Alone: Short Stories is a shining example of his talent to scare you, creep you out, and make you shudder.

I have no way of determining if what I’m reading is classic Little, but this book demonstrates an author that can certainly write in a multitude of genres whilst keeping each tale shadowed with a sense of the supernatural. This is occasionally sensitively done, beautifully subtle and at other times you feel like you’ve been hit by a car after the horrors you’ve faced. Some of the madness within Walking Alone had this particular horror fan smiling like a lunatic, wincing in disgust one minute and then wiping a tear away after an emotional punch to the gut the next. Walking Alone has barely any filler, yes the quality is varied but all in all it’s a solid collection.

I can imagine fans of the author will enjoy the chronological read through of Walking Alone. You can certainly see Little grow as a writer, the early tales can be a tad clunky and occasionally suffer from convenient plotting, but there’s a charm to that I really enjoyed. Little can tell a story, ‘Pictures of Huxley’ is one of the most emotional short stories I think I’ve ever read.

I’ll be reading much more of Bentley Little’s work in the future, and I cannot think of a better recommendation for Walking Alone than that.

Star Rating (out of 5): 3***

You can buy the Cemetery Dance Hardcover here

Walking Alone is also available from Amazon US

 

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