It took me longer to get through this than I had expected, but I sometimes struggle with short story collections if each story doesn’t keep me engaged. After a humdrum story, it’s awfully easy to just put the Kindle down and call it a day.
The Whispered Tales is a collection of 23 stories by 17 different authors, but all of the stories are focused on the town of Graves Grove, British Columbia and it’s unusual inhabitants. The town was founded by Samuel Graves, who is himself of mysterious origins, and a small band of followers in 1880. Throughout the years (the stories takes us past the year 2027), we get insight into the peculiar happenings in the town and the seemingly normal but actually rather disturbed residents. Over the years, many, many children have vanished without a trace, and the old sycamore tree that Graves planted on day one is somehow at the center of the disappearances.
The stories have a little bit of everything creepy: ghosts, witches, mysteries, murder, vampires, demons, shifters, you name it-—the short story format and multiple authors allows for this variety. Obviously, the writing styles vary, but all of the stories are decently written, and the book is well edited and fits together nicely as a whole. This is mainly horror, and at least one of the stories was genuinely disturbing, but there is a lot of dark comedy sprinkled throughout as well.
Each author sticks with the basic elements/themes of Graves Grove, including the daily-changing statue of Samuel Groves, the scary sycamore tree, the child disappearances, the local crazy lady, and the town stray dog, but from there the stories vary widely. A few of the stories have a very YA feel to them, a couple are almost pure comedy, and some are psychological thrillers.
As with any collection like this, some stories are going to be more successful than others for each reader. Personally, I thought the vampire story came out of nowhere and didn’t feel like it belonged, but I adored the funnier stories sandwiched in with the scarier ones.
My favorite story is ‘Magick’ by D.M. Kilgore, which is the hilarious tale of possibly the most unsuccessful witch I’ve ever read about. Magdala Agatha Mersy seems to be completely lacking in any kind of witchy skill, but gosh, does she try hard. Her struggles give us the background to one wacky element of the town, and I loved it.
This was an enjoyable read, despite the trouble I had sticking with it, and a perfect #screamthon read for me this October. Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for the chance to read and review this fun, spooky collection. 💀