One of Us: A Tribute to Frank Michaels Errington – A+ Horror fills a massive anthology featuring Stephen King, Richard Chizmar, Tom Deady, Josh Malerman, Paul Tremblay, and so many more.
This tome is 556 pages of knuckle splitting, page turning, scares.
And all the while, One of Us is moving in its tribute to Frank Michaels Errington, the gifted writer and reviewer that helped critique and nurture some of the best of a genre over the decades.
Proceeds from the book – that came out in November of 2020 – are donated in Frank’s name to the American Transplant Foundation.
A slew of photos and smiles in One of Us, edited by Kenneth W. Cain, share glimpses into the countless joy Frank gave to others while around them, and to honor his spirit, a slew of stories are presented within it in a fantastical nightmare-inducing fashion, just as he would have wanted.
Touching on a few of the stories therein, it is easy to enter into “I Am The Doorway” by Stephen King.
Previously published in Sai King’s first short story compilation Night Shift, the tale merges science-fiction and the macabre in a painfully realistic manner.
SPOILER WARNING For Stories By Stephen King, Richard Chizmar, and Tom Deady.
Why does realism come to mind?
Space seems to be a lifeless void and a quiet vacuum, but the reaches outside the earth’s atmosphere are the truest unknown.
The astronaut recalls little of his voyage to Venus that might note any apparent cause for his current murderous predicament.
But it is the only explanation.
Unlike so many sci-fi voyages and tales, Stephen King attaches the things beyond human understanding to the too oft black and white deception of science.
The returned astronaut has admitted to killing a boy, though it was ‘they’ who made him do it. He is ‘only the doorway.’
What could be more terrifying than intelligent entities, that manifest themselves like alien spores, a disease, or a parasite, in the form of eyes that continue to sprout from the searing, itching fingers of their space traveling host?
We cannot send life into space, but that does not mean that rabid rabies-like pathogens, or non-carbon-based life forms cannot live there, cannot hunt there for a way onto an earth . . . to feed.
The astronaut is their doorway to the earth, and as far-fetched as that terrifying premise may seem, its sheer plausibility is solidified in that we cannot for sure say that Eyes outside Venus’ atmosphere are an impossibility.
Truth be told, I would have loved to hear more about the astronaut in space in the story, the tale is very much grounded (literally and figuratively) but what King leaves to the imagination has me thinking about this one as I re-read it again and again, shivering and itching between my thumb and forefinger.
In what was one of the most disturbing stories in the volume, Tom Deady’s “A Tattoo For Joey” can be summed up in one chilling shout: “Grampa, you’re hurting me!”
The grandfather lives alone, has had one sever mental ‘incident’ – an instance of a breakdown of sorts – that seems likely to be a sign of dementia.
He loves his six-year-old grandson Joey, that is clear, and he is helping out his daughter, Monica, while she goes away to catch her husband cheating on her.
You feel for all three of the characters so very much in such a short span, especially for ‘Grampa’ as he struggles to do the near-impossible for any parent or grandparent: keep a young child entertained and safe while watching them for a prolonged period of hours or days.
The prize in the knock-off Cracker Jack box may really be a life-draining temporary tattoo (irony, there, as the tattoo seems hell-bent on staying vibrant and alive while the kid fades), or it may be a delusion of paranoia brought on by stress.
The heart is both warmed and throttled by this story.
And hearing the exasperated Joey say, “Grampa, you’re hurting me!” at the end really shakes the reader violently, as the grandfather ‘goes to work’ on the young boy’s tattooed arm.
I do wish the grandfather had gotten some time alone with the father, but that would like have made this great piece a bit implausible and spoil the bubble of the granddad-grandson world that is built so very well.
Some of the greatest short stories create magic in just three or four pages of prose, and that has to be one of the most difficult achievements in fiction, which Richard Chizmar gives us in “Homesick.”
The teenager point of view is frightening enough.
Timmy calls the old house ‘ugly’ and makes fun of the ancient paintings he has come to detest in his loneliness.
Maybe he is a little younger than a teenager; that is not specified, nor is it important (though I kind of wish I knew for sure).
My imagination runs to this being a bad combination.
Combine the lonesome juvenile boy in the White House being called a ‘baby’ by his father and the fact that he has abandoned all parenting time because of the new job, the presidency, and then combine the tragic sense of uprooting that Timmy feels for his hometown, his friends, his school and his ex-girlfriend – who had to find a new boy to go ‘steady with’ in Timmy’s absence – and you have a recipe for wickedness.
So many children are overlooked by their parents. The abuse is a cancer. Could it happen to one of the presidents’ own?
Well Timmy sees no other way to return home than to carefully mix the poison into his parent’s coffee, without getting any of the white powder on the mugs.
As the yelling starts, he is thinking of Sarah, his girl, his old house, and his friends, and he is eating popcorn.
It is such a brilliantly unnerving tale and reminds me a lot of Edgar Allan Poe, were he alive in 21st century America, because it feels all too close to the truth of human fallacy and weakness, and the hurt that the hurt can inflict on others.
These are just brief reviews of three of the great tales in this volume, but all of the pieces selected for this anthology are winners.
“One of Us: A Tribute to Frank Michaels Errington” was written by R.J. Huneke, and the book is a Paperback, 556 pages long, and was Published on November 14th, 2020 by Bloodshot Books.
Amaranthine Books incredulous limited Dracula by Bram Stoker is truly dark, richly lavish, and bloodily grim in all the right ways.
Dracula is one of the first ever books to be considered a novel, one of the foundational chilling books of horror, and birthed an entire vampire genre of fiction.
Dracula is legend.
And having read the book many times, having studied the book at university and owning a few copies already, I was skeptical of spending a few hundred dollars on the “Transylvania” limited edition of 666 numbered copies from Amaranthine Books.
It looked very interesting and the word that first comes to mind, still, is lavish.
This book is bound and draped in red velvet-like cloth.
I love books and so this seemed really cool, as it seemed to frame the dark visage of the Count on the cover as Jonathan Harker first sees Dracula in his castle.
But I was not sold; it was not until I saw the art and read into the thought-process behind the binding and every facet of the myriad designs put in the book that I fell in love and had to have it.
Here is the story synopsis, and the book review continues below:
Dracula is an 1897 Gothic horror novel by Irish author Bram Stoker. It introduced the character of Count Dracula and established many conventions of subsequent vampire fantasy. The novel tells the story of Dracula’s attempt to move from Transylvania to England so that he may find new blood and spread the undead curse, and of the battle between Dracula and a small group of people led by Professor Abraham Van Helsing.
Dracula has been assigned to many literary genres including vampire literature, horror fiction, gothic fiction, and invasion literature. The novel has spawned numerous theatrical, film, and television interpretations.
Original Title: Dracula
Author: Bram Stoker
Hardcover, 418 pages
Published By Archibald Constable and Company (UK) on Publication date 26, May 1897 and then later by Amaranthine Books
The following TFF Book Review Of Amaranthine Books’ Dracula By Bram Stoker contains contains mild Spoilers*****.
Bram Stoker’s classic is a combination of letters of multiple characters and the audio recordings of Dr. Seward in his asylum, an epistolary, and it remains intensely suspenseful, eerie, and flat out creepy from the very onset.
This experience is what Amaranthine Books wanted to bring to their fine press publication of their two limited editions, Dracula – Transylvania Edition (limited to 666 copies and some are still for sale!), and Dracula – Scholomance Edition (limited to 50 copies).
Meeting the Count and going through the tale, not just as a reader, but as a participant is how Amaranthine went about constructing their gorgeous editions.
The pages are all black-edged and UV-protected, the imagery and even the count on the cover glow in the dark. There are 666 pages in this edition. 666!
As Harker find himself entering Transylvania and the weird surrounds him, an unsettling ominous feeling, so too does the reader embark with that same pit in their stomach for the start of their trek.
The terrifying ordeal of wolves chasing the carriage is followed up by the dreary castle and then the lush, well-spoken older gentlemen, Count Dracula, himself, who is genteel and off-putting in the subtlest of ways.
He had eerily adopted an English accent, despite learning the language through reading about it, and his regal demeanor reveals a love for a lavish lifestyle in many ways, yet in many ways he is off – including the extra-long canines Harker catches glimpses of.
Dracula had been a plague in Eastern Europe for time out of mind and so he set his sights on the innumerable citizens of England in the 19th Century. There he could be a king, stay young, and torment the people there if only the Harker and his brilliant fiance Mina had not been so close that she could put together what had happened to her beloved and how they must get together, with the famous Dr. Van Helsing, to destroy the Count once and for all.
The tale is truly one of a kind and so sensational, even to this day.
Reading the version Amaranthine put together makes for an all-time superb reading experience for this rare book.
And so both editions of the Amaranthine Books’ Dracula have a red velvety cloth binding that is so very satisfying and fun to hold in the hand.
The book is heavy! And it is lush, yet the older, stern glance of the Count looks out from the cover.
I wish I had gotten one of the Scholomance Editions, because the book came in a coffin-like wooden box containing real Transylvanian soil from Bran Castle in Romania.
And what is more: the creators of the book actually wrote the title on the limitation page in their own blood!
That is incredibly macabre.
Having to settle for my copy it still is encompassed in a coffin-like slipcase and comes with a stake to ward off the count, a hidden message within the case, and also was limited to a prominent number: 666 copies.
Every facet, from the bat-black endpapers, to the vivid artwork that perfectly befits the story and is innovative and new and yet classic at the same time, adds up to a truly fantastic volume from the fine press befitting of one of the world’s greatest works of literature.
P.S. The next book from Amaranthine Books, Alice, is also out-of-this-world amazing, as it features more fine press innovations in binding construction and overall design aesthetic.
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass, and what Alice Found There is presented in one book that is reversible for each novel along with a truly adept cover finely sewn into such an entrance to the world as you could ever hope to behold. Myriad fibers make up a trippy visual enigma tunneling you with Alice to Wonderland.
I have a numbered edition of this famous set of novellas, the Alice – Jabberwock Edition (limited to only 260 copies) on pre-order and I will certainly review it once it has been released and 60 days have passed.
“Amaranthine Books incredulous limited Dracula by Bram Stoker” was written by R.J. Huneke.