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Halloween Carnival Volume 4

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Kealan Patrick Burke, Ray Garton, Bev Vincent, C. A. Suleiman, and Paul Melniczek treat readers to some spooky tricks with a hair-raising assemblage of tales gathered together by author, editor, and master of the macabre Brian James Freeman. THE MANNEQUIN CHALLENGE by Kealan Patrick Burke For some, office parties are the highlight of the season. For others, they can paraly Kealan Patrick Burke, Ray Garton, Bev Vincent, C. A. Suleiman, and Paul Melniczek treat readers to some spooky tricks with a hair-raising assemblage of tales gathered together by author, editor, and master of the macabre Brian James Freeman. THE MANNEQUIN CHALLENGE by Kealan Patrick Burke For some, office parties are the highlight of the season. For others, they can paralyze with dread. Theo is determined not to let his anxiety stop him from attending—though maybe he’s right to be afraid. ACROSS THE TRACKS by Ray Garton The candy’s always better on the other side of town, even if it means crossing paths with bullies. But a rich house with an unlocked door might just be too good to be true. . . . THE HALLOWEEN TREE by Bev Vincent Every town has one: a house or a field or an old tree that just gives off a bad vibe. Of course, those feelings are just silly superstition, nothing to take seriously. Right? PUMPKIN EATER by C. A. Suleiman Peter loves Halloween—almost as much as he hates his wife. Luckily, his favorite holiday presents an opportunity to fix his problem. After all, putting his wife in her place should be as easy as pie. WHEN THE LEAVES FALL by Paul Melniczek Haverville always seemed like a typical town to me: a place where people work hard, and no one ever really leaves. Until the night I went to Graver’s Farm—and discovered what Haverwille was really hiding.


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Kealan Patrick Burke, Ray Garton, Bev Vincent, C. A. Suleiman, and Paul Melniczek treat readers to some spooky tricks with a hair-raising assemblage of tales gathered together by author, editor, and master of the macabre Brian James Freeman. THE MANNEQUIN CHALLENGE by Kealan Patrick Burke For some, office parties are the highlight of the season. For others, they can paraly Kealan Patrick Burke, Ray Garton, Bev Vincent, C. A. Suleiman, and Paul Melniczek treat readers to some spooky tricks with a hair-raising assemblage of tales gathered together by author, editor, and master of the macabre Brian James Freeman. THE MANNEQUIN CHALLENGE by Kealan Patrick Burke For some, office parties are the highlight of the season. For others, they can paralyze with dread. Theo is determined not to let his anxiety stop him from attending—though maybe he’s right to be afraid. ACROSS THE TRACKS by Ray Garton The candy’s always better on the other side of town, even if it means crossing paths with bullies. But a rich house with an unlocked door might just be too good to be true. . . . THE HALLOWEEN TREE by Bev Vincent Every town has one: a house or a field or an old tree that just gives off a bad vibe. Of course, those feelings are just silly superstition, nothing to take seriously. Right? PUMPKIN EATER by C. A. Suleiman Peter loves Halloween—almost as much as he hates his wife. Luckily, his favorite holiday presents an opportunity to fix his problem. After all, putting his wife in her place should be as easy as pie. WHEN THE LEAVES FALL by Paul Melniczek Haverville always seemed like a typical town to me: a place where people work hard, and no one ever really leaves. Until the night I went to Graver’s Farm—and discovered what Haverwille was really hiding.

30 review for Halloween Carnival Volume 4

  1. 4 out of 5

    Char

    It's that time of year again and my pile of books to read is towering! I had to choose which of the Halloween Carnival books I was going to request because I knew I wouldn't have time to read all 5. The reason I chose Volume 4 was because of 2 authors-Kealan Patrick Burke and Ray Garton. They didn't disappoint! These and another story stood way out for me, and here's a bit on each of them: The Mannequin Challenge by Kealan Patrick Burke is the first story and it's killer. Maybe it's because I lo It's that time of year again and my pile of books to read is towering! I had to choose which of the Halloween Carnival books I was going to request because I knew I wouldn't have time to read all 5. The reason I chose Volume 4 was because of 2 authors-Kealan Patrick Burke and Ray Garton. They didn't disappoint! These and another story stood way out for me, and here's a bit on each of them: The Mannequin Challenge by Kealan Patrick Burke is the first story and it's killer. Maybe it's because I love the kind of tales that are just plain weird and offer NO explanation-they just ARE. A quiet and reclusive man decides to attend the Halloween party at work, just this one time. What will he find? You'll have to read it to find out! This one made me laugh out loud with delight. Across the Tracks by Ray Garton was a blast. For whatever reason, to me this tale had a distinct Ray Bradbury feel to it, but I think the ending might've even blown Bradbury himself away. What fun! The Halloween Tree I've seen Bev Vincent's name around and I am friends with him on various social media, but I believe this is the first time I've read one of his stories. I enjoyed it! Any kid with an imagination can make something scary from an inanimate object. In this tale, it's a tree. But what made this story different was how the kids dealt with the problem. I found this to be the most surprising story in the bunch and it made me smile. I did enjoy the other two stories in this anthology, but these three stood tall and they alone are worth the price of this book. The other two are just the gravy on top! Recommended! You can pre-order your copy here: Halloween Carnival Volume 4 *Thanks to NetGalley and to Hydra for the e-ARC in exchange for my honest review. This is it.*

  2. 5 out of 5

    Irene

    Halloween Carnival is back with 5 more stories to celebrate the most wonderful time of year for Horror fans. Not surprising for me, that my favorites in the bunch were by Ray Garton and Kealan Patrick Burke, 2 of my most beloved authors of all time. As not just Halloween, but the entire holiday season approaches, take a moment to consider how many office parties, family gatherings or other social functions you may feel obligated to attend. How many have you already been to over the years? Occasio Halloween Carnival is back with 5 more stories to celebrate the most wonderful time of year for Horror fans. Not surprising for me, that my favorites in the bunch were by Ray Garton and Kealan Patrick Burke, 2 of my most beloved authors of all time. As not just Halloween, but the entire holiday season approaches, take a moment to consider how many office parties, family gatherings or other social functions you may feel obligated to attend. How many have you already been to over the years? Occasionally you may end up enjoying yourself at a party you would have preferred to skip. More often than not you may wish you had just stayed home. In THE MANNEQUIN CHALLENGE by Kealan Patrick Burke Theo attends an office party he should have just skipped. Keep him in mind the next time an invitation shows up. ACROSS THE TRACKS by Ray Garton is all treat and no tricks as Kenny and his friends prepare for a Halloween of dodging bullies and locating the best candy, but the grass isn't always greener on the richer side of town. Some times, you may be bettor off sticking closer to home. THE HALLOWEEN TREE by Bev Vincent is also a fun trick or treat story as friends must venture past the spooky old tree that seems to be just waiting for someone to get too close. PUMPKIN EATER by C. A. Suleiman Takes a dark peek into the lives of an unhappily married couple "enjoying" a Hallloween at home. There is much to do, bake the pies, set out the candy, and hate each other's guts. WHEN THE LEAVES FALL by Paul Melniczek was the longest of the stories, in which we find out what really happens when people are "working long hours" at the factory. A perfect collection to curl up with as the leaves begin to drop from the trees and make delightful crunchy noises underfoot. I received an advance copy for review.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Schizanthus Nerd

    Yes, I know Halloween is over but when you’re into horror every day can be Halloween! I did begin this volume in early October but because I didn’t love any of the stories it’s been a bit of a slog to finish it. Mannequin Challenge by Kealan Patrick Burke - 🎃🎃🎃 Theo is mentally preparing himself to attend the office Halloween party. As an introvert I can definitely relate to his reticence, especially considering he’s an outsider and there’s going to be a mannequin challenge. I was surprised by The Yes, I know Halloween is over but when you’re into horror every day can be Halloween! I did begin this volume in early October but because I didn’t love any of the stories it’s been a bit of a slog to finish it. Mannequin Challenge by Kealan Patrick Burke - 🎃🎃🎃 Theo is mentally preparing himself to attend the office Halloween party. As an introvert I can definitely relate to his reticence, especially considering he’s an outsider and there’s going to be a mannequin challenge. I was surprised by Theo’s response to the mannequin challenge (we certainly differ in that respect). I wish there had been an explanation, however brief, of how the mannequin challenge worked the way it did. Death stood by the photocopy machine, a drink raised to its bony mouth. Across the Tracks by Ray Garton - 🎃🎃🎃 Kenny, Sam and JayJay are from the wrong side of the tracks. The good candy can be found across the tracks in the affluent part of town so that’s where they are trick-or-treating. Unfortunately a bully and his minions are also there, but encountering them isn’t the weirdest thing to happen that night. The descriptions of the bullying were quite graphic and the story ended abruptly. Although I don’t mind some ambiguity, the main event takes place off page and that’s the part I wanted to be able to see. I didn’t get any of the answers I was seeking. Since they had first encountered him in grammar school, Ed Mortimer had been a permanent part of their lives, a human animatronic Halloween yard decoration that could jump out of the dark at them at any time, all year long. The Halloween Tree by Bev Vincent - 🎃🎃 Luke and his friends are going trick or treating tonight and for Luke this means he’ll need to face one of the scariest things in his life - the tree on the corner. Luke is convinced this particular tree is alive and scheming against him. Unfortunately I didn’t find this story scary at all. In that moment it looked like a giant ogre, with arms upraised and outstretched, ready to wrap them up in a crushing embrace, impaling their bodies with spiny talons six feet long. Pumpkin Eater by C.A. Suleiman - 🎃🎃🎃 Peter loves Halloween but his wife Marlene doesn’t. He chooses this night to fix his marital problems, once and for all. This was a predictable story. She had no idea that he knew. No idea the price she would have to pay. When the Leaves Fall by Paul Melniczek - 🎃🎃🎃 In Haverville there’s one farm that no one ever talks about. Signs surrounding the farm warn trespassers to stay away. One Halloween night, Chris and his best friend Kyle decide to find out what’s really going on at Graver’s Farm. Neither will ever be the same. This was the longest story in this collection. With the amount of build up I expected more answers than I found. Nightfall was coming swiftly, carrying the seeds of slumber. And also the batwings of nightmare. I’ve now read four of the five volumes in this series and this is my least favourite so far. I’m disappointed that I don’t have a favourite story in this volume. I’m also not keen to reread any of them. Content warnings include (view spoiler)[assault, bullying, mention of suicide, sexual assault and slavery (hide spoiler)] . Thank you so much to NetGalley and Hydra, an imprint of Random House Publishing Group, for the opportunity to read this book.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Frank Errington

    3 of 5 Stars Review copy During the month of October 2017, Brian James Freeman and the folks at Hydra, have gotten together to present a total of twenty-five Halloween tales of horror from twenty-five of the best genre writers working today. Every Tuesday during October there will be a new volume in the Halloween Carnival anthology series. Volume Four is my least favorite so far this series but it's still worth your time this Halloween reading season. The Mannequin Challenge by Kealan Patrick Burke 3 of 5 Stars Review copy During the month of October 2017, Brian James Freeman and the folks at Hydra, have gotten together to present a total of twenty-five Halloween tales of horror from twenty-five of the best genre writers working today. Every Tuesday during October there will be a new volume in the Halloween Carnival anthology series. Volume Four is my least favorite so far this series but it's still worth your time this Halloween reading season. The Mannequin Challenge by Kealan Patrick Burke - A Twilight Zone kind of story about an office Halloween party and a rather bizarre mannequin challenge. "There were sixteen people in all, every one of them in costume, every one of them playing statues." All except Theo, late to the party, no costume, and his reaction is perfect. Across the Tracks by Ray Garton - Sometimes you have to cross the tracks to find a better neighborhood for trick-or-treating. "That was another benefit of crossing the tracks on Halloween. There were frequent parties underway in the houses they visited, and a lot of hot moms wore slutty costumes. It was a great opportunity for eleven and twelve-year-old boys to catch a glimpse of some thighs and cleavage that were not on a screen." What Kenny, Sam, and JayJay stumble upon at one such house was certainly an eye-opener. The Halloween Tree by Bev Vincent - My favorite story in this collection. Trick or treating with friends and a scary old tree. "On Halloween night they'd have to walk beneath it and that was freaking Luke out." Pumpkin Eater by C. A. Suleman - An interesting story about how couples grow apart over the years. When the Leaves Fall by Paul Melniczek - This collection's novella is about a terror which slowly consumes a town and the way one young man deals with it as a kid and then as an adult. There is some lovely prose in this story. "Leaves had begun their slow patient glide to death weeks ago and now September was just a recent memory, as October wrapped the landscape in its dusky arms and stole its life, peeling apart the summer flowers and snatching up the burnt orange and yellow leaves, pulling them to the ground where they dried into husks and shriveled away." I may have been a bit disappointed in this set of Halloween tales, but I'm still looking forward to Volume Five to close out the series. Halloween Carnival Volume Four is published by Hydra, a division of Random House, and is available as an ebook.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Juli

    Hydra (Random House) is ringing in the Halloween season this year with a series of five short story anthologies. One ebook will be released each week in October, with the last coming out on Halloween, Oct 31st. Each ebook contains five stories with a Halloween theme. These are not jump scare, spurting blood, serial killer chasing people down the street sort of stories. They are more literary horror.....the type you read with your imagination turned up to 11 to feel the atmosphere, hear the scream Hydra (Random House) is ringing in the Halloween season this year with a series of five short story anthologies. One ebook will be released each week in October, with the last coming out on Halloween, Oct 31st. Each ebook contains five stories with a Halloween theme. These are not jump scare, spurting blood, serial killer chasing people down the street sort of stories. They are more literary horror.....the type you read with your imagination turned up to 11 to feel the atmosphere, hear the screams..... Volume 4 features: The Mannequin Challenge - Kealan Patrick Burke. Theo decides to attend his office Halloween party, despite his social awkwardness. But, unfortunately, he finds out he really doesn't fit in. This story is bizarre, yet satisfying. Haven't we all been in a social situation where we felt totally out of place and uncomfortable? However, Theo's way of dealing with his emotions is a bit strange.... Nice creepy opening for this anthology. Across the Tracks - Ray Garton. Kenny and his friends know the rich side of town has the better Halloween candy, but unfortunately it also has the school bully and his cronies. The boys learn quickly that there are worse things than bullies.... An interesting story with a nice creepy Halloween atmosphere, but, for me, the ending could have been a bit better. It seemed too abrupt. The Halloween Tree - Bev Vincent. It always beneficial to have good friends -- buddies who always have your back. Even when it comes to seriously scary things. This story has the Stranger Things/Goonies/ET feel to it for me -- the group of kids who are friends through thick, thin and deadly. Great story! My favorite in this anthology! Pumpkin Eater - C.A. Suleiman. Peter loves Halloween and DIY projects just about as much as he hates his wife. So why not combine all that together? Halloween decorations definitely take on a sinister feel in this story. This was was just ok for me....a good story, but probably my least favorite of the bunch. When the Leaves Fall - Paul Melniczek. The boys were warned to stay away from Graver's Farm. They should have listened. Great story! Nice creepy build up....great ending. As a teen, I probably would have been tempted to go down that dirt road too.....just to see if the stories were true. Unwise. I like the more subtle atmosphere of literary horror. For me, it's more frightening to let my imagination grab ahold of the story and pull me into it....rather than having basic violence and more in-your-face frightening acts be the only scary features. I like horror to sneak up on me slowly....like the frog sitting in a pot of water not knowing the heat is turning up on the stove burner below it. These are well-written creepy stories that are bound to get readers in the mood for Halloween. :) And I definitely like the idea of a new volume releasing each week during the month of October. Halloween Carnival Volume 4 will be available October 24th, 2017. **I voluntarily read an advanced readers copy of this book from Hydra-Random House via NetGalley. Opinions expressed are entirely my own.**

  6. 5 out of 5

    Janet Robel

    Very good! This was my favorite by far of this series. I thought each one was unique in this set. When you need some scares, this is certainly worth a try. It is also great for those who may not have time to read a novel, so you can read one story at a time here. If you like the unusual, then give this a go.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Kimberly

    HALLOWEEN CARNIVAL: Volume Four, edited by Brian James Freeman, is a collection of four short stories, and one novella all featuring the theme of "Halloween". Honestly, I found the selection in this collection to be mediocre compared to the other volumes I've read so far. However, there were two stories that stood out among the rest, for me. The first story in this book is entitled, The Mannequin Challenge" by Kealan Patrick Burke. Theo, a man set in his dull, routine existence, finds that he is HALLOWEEN CARNIVAL: Volume Four, edited by Brian James Freeman, is a collection of four short stories, and one novella all featuring the theme of "Halloween". Honestly, I found the selection in this collection to be mediocre compared to the other volumes I've read so far. However, there were two stories that stood out among the rest, for me. The first story in this book is entitled, The Mannequin Challenge" by Kealan Patrick Burke. Theo, a man set in his dull, routine existence, finds that he is invited to an office party this year. Despite his anxiety about socializing and leaving his comfort zone, he decides to make an appearance for once. . . The imagery in this tale was superb! Between the very well written flow of words, and the characterization that we "see"--rather than simply be "told"--about our main character, the events that unfold had me at the edge of my seat until the very end. The entire episode was one that I couldn't predict a single scene in, and so well done that I didn't once doubt its veracity in relation to Theo. A full five stars for this one! The only other selection that really grabbed my interest was the novella, "When the Leaves Fall", by Paul Melniczek.. This was a story that dealt strongly with emotions on all levels. The "what" and "why" of things that are happening really take second place to the feelings generated by the narrator. Everything about this small town is easy to visualize and "feel" in your mind. I felt that this one was more about the fantastic journey, than it was the actual final destination. ". . . There were some battles you couldn't win, but that didn't mean I was going to lose, either . . ." While this Volume was not my personal favorite, it is definitely worth looking up for those two stories, alone.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Michael Hicks

    Volume 4 of the Halloween Carnival series edited by Brian Freeman follows the same basic pattern as previous entries - five authors, five stories, all revolving around the Halloween holiday. Presented here are the following: THE MANNEQUIN CHALLENGE by Kealan Patrick Burke I can relate to Theo, Burke's central character and the office outcast attending his job's Halloween party when he’d rather be at home. I’m not sure I’d behave the same way, though, if confronted by a roomful of frozen, mannequin Volume 4 of the Halloween Carnival series edited by Brian Freeman follows the same basic pattern as previous entries - five authors, five stories, all revolving around the Halloween holiday. Presented here are the following: THE MANNEQUIN CHALLENGE by Kealan Patrick Burke I can relate to Theo, Burke's central character and the office outcast attending his job's Halloween party when he’d rather be at home. I’m not sure I’d behave the same way, though, if confronted by a roomful of frozen, mannequin-like party-goers. The story itself is strange, with no explanations as to why and how, but it’s a fun little distraction. It's WTF quotient is very high, and, as with with every one of his works I've read, Burke proves to be a hell of writer even if this particular story wasn't one of my favorites. 3/5 stars ACROSS THE TRACKS by Ray Garton Ray Garton’s an author I’ve been wanting to try, and this story was a solid intro to his writing. A group of bullied kids in search of candy stumble upon a very strange Halloween party. The depiction of bullying and cruelty among children struck a particular chord with me. I had to deal with my share of bullies in school, and I found the ordeals this particular pack of teens face to ring true. While I never had to deal with torments like the ones depicted here, I found the kids and their situation very familiar and relatable. This one hit all the right notes for me, and I’ll be reading more of Garton’s work for sure. 4/5 stars THE HALLOWEEN TREE by Bev Vincent I couldn’t get into The Halloween Tree, unfortunately. It was a little too one-note, and not very exciting or scary. It’s another story following some kids trick or treating and facing their fears, but it pales in comparison to Garton’s story, and there’s just not much happening with either the plot or the characters. 2/5 stars PUMPKIN EATER by C. A. Suleiman What do you when you love Halloween, but your partner does not? This story of spousal dissatisfaction, was enjoyable, but there's not any real surprises packed into its short page count. It's entirely predictable, but Suleiman's characters sure made it all pretty darn entertaining. 3/5 stars WHEN THE LEAVES FALL by Paul Melniczek Haverville is a strange town, but everyone knows not to trespass on farmer Graver's land. Leave it to two kids to defy that small nugget of common knowledge on Halloween, though. What they discover will change their lives forever! WHEN THE LEAVES FALL was a pretty dry note to end this anthology on, and slightly more than half of this book's page count are dedicated to this particular story. It's slow and plodding, and asks way more questions than it can, or is even willing to, answer, but the biggest problem is how dull it all is. Even for a (longer) short story, I still found it a slog to get through. 2/5 stars Having read now four of the five Halloween Carnival books back-to-back, I feel like I'm getting burned out on anthologies, and this series in particular. But there's only one more entry to go, and I'm determined to finish these. So, onto Volume 5... [Note: I received an advanced copy of this title from the publisher via NetGalley.]

  9. 4 out of 5

    Mommacat

    THE MANNEQUIN CHALLENGE by Kealan Patrick Burke - There have been many office parties that I've not wanted to attend; take a look why. ACROSS THE TRACKS by Ray Garton - Quiet horror? Maybe. Until the end, then your heart will start to race. Still, it was my least favorite of all the stories with a rushed, 'you figure it out' ending. THE HALLOWEEN TREE by Bev Vincent - Loved this story, these kids had the right idea. PUMPKIN EATER by C. A. Suleiman - If you're going to be a hateful pig, remember th THE MANNEQUIN CHALLENGE by Kealan Patrick Burke - There have been many office parties that I've not wanted to attend; take a look why. ACROSS THE TRACKS by Ray Garton - Quiet horror? Maybe. Until the end, then your heart will start to race. Still, it was my least favorite of all the stories with a rushed, 'you figure it out' ending. THE HALLOWEEN TREE by Bev Vincent - Loved this story, these kids had the right idea. PUMPKIN EATER by C. A. Suleiman - If you're going to be a hateful pig, remember that women don't take that any more. WHEN THE LEAVES FALL by Paul Melniczek - a novella length story about town where people where people work too hard and never leave. What goes on and why? Thanks to Random House/Hydra for the advance copy. Recommended!

  10. 4 out of 5

    Reading Reindeer 2021 On Proxima Centauri

    Review of HALLOWEEN CARNIVAL VOLUME FOUR Edited by Brian James Freeman Each installment of this wonderful series leaves me with yet more stories that are powerfully impacting. Each installment contains four new stories plus one previously published. Editor Brian James Freeman chooses the cream of the crop for each edition. Every story is a winner: excellently written, and tremendously scary. I recommend the Halloween Carnival series as a top choice when you are looking for October scarefests.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

    Maybe it's the season? Autumn has always been a rough season for me. Everything that was living and so vibrant during spring and summer is now just...dead. This is the time I count the days until snow. Lots of beautiful white puffy stuff. So, this anthology just didn't hit any sweet spots for me. Matter of fact, some were duds. However, Kealan Patrick Burke was a bright spot. The Mannequin was one of the weirdest damn things. And I mean weird in a good way. Seriously, I was like w.t.f? Excellent Maybe it's the season? Autumn has always been a rough season for me. Everything that was living and so vibrant during spring and summer is now just...dead. This is the time I count the days until snow. Lots of beautiful white puffy stuff. So, this anthology just didn't hit any sweet spots for me. Matter of fact, some were duds. However, Kealan Patrick Burke was a bright spot. The Mannequin was one of the weirdest damn things. And I mean weird in a good way. Seriously, I was like w.t.f? Excellent! Ray Garton-Across the track. I couldn't read it. The bullying was awful intense. I decided a few years ago not to waste my time on this author, but figured I'd give it a chance. Never again. Bev Vincent-The Halloween tree. Loved the kids and the story, but the ending was too simplistic. C. A. Suleiman-Pumpkin eater. So good that I went to Amazon to find anything else this person has written! Lastly, we have Paul Melniczic-When leaves fall. This was almost perfect. The story and characters we're great, but I felt he dropped the ball in the end. Almost like he didn't have an ending, so he came up with this lame conclusion. Still, I'd read more from this author. All in all, this is an anthology I'd recommend. My thanks to Hydra/Random House, and Netgalley for allowing me to read for the price of one lousy review!

  12. 4 out of 5

    Zanereads

    The Mannequin Challenge - Kealan Patrick Burke – This is story of a sad man who goes to his offices Halloween party, where he walks in to find everyone frozen in place. No matter what he does to them, they don't move, even when he pricks them with skewers and takes off their clothes… To be honest, I hated this story. It was sad and also disturbing, and completely pointless. 0 stars. Across the Tracks – Ray Garton – This is a classic Halloween short story, following a few kids as they Trick or Tre The Mannequin Challenge - Kealan Patrick Burke – This is story of a sad man who goes to his offices Halloween party, where he walks in to find everyone frozen in place. No matter what he does to them, they don't move, even when he pricks them with skewers and takes off their clothes… To be honest, I hated this story. It was sad and also disturbing, and completely pointless. 0 stars. Across the Tracks – Ray Garton – This is a classic Halloween short story, following a few kids as they Trick or Treat. But when they crash a party at their teachers house, things get weird. The first half of this story isn't bad, but there some surprisingly graphic bullying scenes (disgusting scenes.) And I'm not really sure why it ended the way it did. What exactly happened there? I couldn't tell you. 1 star. The Halloween Tree – Bev Vincent – Again, a classic Halloween story. Luke and his buddies are trick-or-treating for the first time on there own, but they're all afraid of a scary looking tree on the corner. They spend all night avoiding it, until a dog chases them and they end up in the clutches of the tree...literally. I feel like this particular story would have scared the pants off of me when I was 5, but as it stands it was just kind of boring. 2 stars. Pumpkin Eater - C. A. Suleiman - Peter loves Halloween, but his wife does not. According to Peter, his wife doesn't love much of anything, and after he finds out that she's been having an affair, he makes plans to kill her on Halloween. Things don't go as planned however, when she discovers his plan. 3 stars. When the Leaves Fall - Paul Melniczek - Even after being warned to stay away from  Graver’s Farm, two small town boys can't help but to see for themselves. They sneak down to the farm one Halloween and find most of the town residents, who are suppose to be working overtime at the local factory, all working together, like zombies in a large building on the farm. I don't know if we actually learned what they were doing in this building or not. This story was so long and drawn out I was bored. It wasn't really scary either. 2 stars. Overall I have to give this volume 2 stars. While all of the stories were Halloween related, it wasn't really that scary. I want to be scared. I want a short story anthology that will scare the pants off me, and so far, none of these have. I only have slight hopes for volume 5.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Sue Wallace

    Halloween Carnival Volume 4 by Bev Vincent. A collection of 5 short horror stories. THE MANNEQUIN CHALLENGE by Kealan Patrick Burke For some, office parties are the highlight of the season. For others, they can paralyze with dread. Theo is determined not to let his anxiety stop him from attending—though maybe he’s right to be afraid. ACROSS THE TRACKS by Ray Garton The candy’s always better on the other side of town, even if it means crossing paths with bullies. But a rich house with an unlocked do Halloween Carnival Volume 4 by Bev Vincent. A collection of 5 short horror stories. THE MANNEQUIN CHALLENGE by Kealan Patrick Burke For some, office parties are the highlight of the season. For others, they can paralyze with dread. Theo is determined not to let his anxiety stop him from attending—though maybe he’s right to be afraid. ACROSS THE TRACKS by Ray Garton The candy’s always better on the other side of town, even if it means crossing paths with bullies. But a rich house with an unlocked door might just be too good to be true. . . . THE HALLOWEEN TREE by Bev Vincent Every town has one: a house or a field or an old tree that just gives off a bad vibe. Of course, those feelings are just silly superstition, nothing to take seriously. Right? PUMPKIN EATER by C. A. Suleiman Peter loves Halloween—almost as much as he hates his wife. Luckily, his favorite holiday presents an opportunity to fix his problem. After all, putting his wife in her place should be as easy as pie. WHEN THE LEAVES FALL by Paul Melniczek Haverville always seemed like a typical town to me: a place where people work hard, and no one ever really leaves. Until the night I went to Graver’s Farm—and discovered what Haverwille was really hiding. A good read with good characters. Some stories were more enjoyable than others. 4*. Netgalley and random house publishing group-hydra.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Elke

    The Mannequin Challenge (Kealan Patrick Burke) I liked the otherness, the unexpected turn the story took, but at the end I also felt left behind and still missing something. *** Across the Tracks (Ray Garton) Great beginning, but the ending seemed a bit rushed in comparison. *** The Halloween Tree (Bev Vincent) IMHO, the most atmospheric story of the collection. **** Pumpkin Eater (C. A. Suleimanr) The fun story of the collection, but my least favorite. ** When the Leaves Fall (Paul Melniczek) The last a The Mannequin Challenge (Kealan Patrick Burke) I liked the otherness, the unexpected turn the story took, but at the end I also felt left behind and still missing something. *** Across the Tracks (Ray Garton) Great beginning, but the ending seemed a bit rushed in comparison. *** The Halloween Tree (Bev Vincent) IMHO, the most atmospheric story of the collection. **** Pumpkin Eater (C. A. Suleimanr) The fun story of the collection, but my least favorite. ** When the Leaves Fall (Paul Melniczek) The last and longest story which is also easily the best in this book and my favorite here. I loved how so much was only hinted at and left unclear until the very end. Everything that happens is told from the main character's POV, filtered by his thoughts and feelings, which has a strong influence on the reader's perception of things. A great story to complete the book. ***** The Halloween spirit is still strong in this fourth installment of the series! (Thanks to Netgalley, the author, and the publisher for a copy of the book, all opinions are my own)

  15. 4 out of 5

    Dez Nemec

    This is the fourth in a series of five Halloween Carnivals. Like the others, the anthology features 5 different authors and are centered on Halloween. This installment features some great authors - Kealan Patrick Burke, Ray Garton, Bev Vincent - with some interesting stories. Generally, I can see where a story is going, but several of these endings surprised me. I really enjoyed the Ray Garton tale "Across the Tracks," wherein the candy is not always better on the other side of the tracks. And so This is the fourth in a series of five Halloween Carnivals. Like the others, the anthology features 5 different authors and are centered on Halloween. This installment features some great authors - Kealan Patrick Burke, Ray Garton, Bev Vincent - with some interesting stories. Generally, I can see where a story is going, but several of these endings surprised me. I really enjoyed the Ray Garton tale "Across the Tracks," wherein the candy is not always better on the other side of the tracks. And sometimes you see things you don't want to and weren't intended to. I also enjoyed Bev Vincent's The Halloween Tree. Gotta love a story where the "bad guy" is a tree! Another great anthology from Brian Freeman!

  16. 5 out of 5

    Alex

    I read Halloween Carnival 2 earlier this month and LOVED it. This one, not near as much. All the trick or treater stories blended together for me. If you must choose, pick Halloween Carnival 2!

  17. 4 out of 5

    Paige

    I have read 2,3 and 4 and they are all horrible. I see most reviewers like myself received an ARC and I honestly wonder how honest their 4 star reviews are because I am sorry but these books are horrible. The characters are bland and if you want creepy or scary you sadly won’t find it in these books.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Julia

    A collection of five Halloween themed stories. I liked that they were short enough to read in one sitting. Just the right length. Some of these were very creepy. I enjoyed them all. My favorites were The Mannequin Challenge and When the Leaves Fall. THE MANNEQUIN CHALLENGE by Kealan Patrick Burke WTF did I just read? This one really messed with my mind. One of my favorites in the collection. ACROSS THE TRACKS by Ray Garton An uncomfortable story. The bullies are really mean. I did not like the endin A collection of five Halloween themed stories. I liked that they were short enough to read in one sitting. Just the right length. Some of these were very creepy. I enjoyed them all. My favorites were The Mannequin Challenge and When the Leaves Fall. THE MANNEQUIN CHALLENGE by Kealan Patrick Burke WTF did I just read? This one really messed with my mind. One of my favorites in the collection. ACROSS THE TRACKS by Ray Garton An uncomfortable story. The bullies are really mean. I did not like the ending. THE HALLOWEEN TREE by Bev Vincent Interesting story with an anticlimactic ending. I liked it but was disappointed at the very end. PUMPKIN EATER by C. A. Suleiman I liked this one. I thought I knew where it was going, until I didn't. WHEN THE LEAVES FALL by Paul Melniczek This was a really good story. The longest one in the collection. The secret surrounding Graver's Farm was really creepy. His father really disturbed me. I thought this was great. I received a free ARC from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.

  19. 5 out of 5

    John J Questore

    Once again, as usual, I have to thank Brian James Freeman and Hydra for allowing me the opportunity to receive an advanced copy of Halloween Carnival Volume 4. It’s been an awesome privilege and I hope to continue doing so in the future. Halloween Carnival is a concept collection. Brian takes stories that revolve around Halloween - written by the best of the best in the industry - and combines them into five volumes, each containing five stories. They’re a frightening way to spend the month of Oc Once again, as usual, I have to thank Brian James Freeman and Hydra for allowing me the opportunity to receive an advanced copy of Halloween Carnival Volume 4. It’s been an awesome privilege and I hope to continue doing so in the future. Halloween Carnival is a concept collection. Brian takes stories that revolve around Halloween - written by the best of the best in the industry - and combines them into five volumes, each containing five stories. They’re a frightening way to spend the month of October, and, as I’ve said before, may just become a yearly tradition. So, without further ado, a quick breakdown of each story: THE MANNEQUIN CHALLENGE by Kealan Patrick Burke - If you’re going to have a horror anthology, there are few authors better to start with than Kealan. He tells the story of Theo, an social outcast in his office, who finally decides to attend the annual Halloween party. his coworkers decide to play an awful prank on him with unusual consequences. You may think twice about accepting an invitation in the future. ACROSS THE TRACKS by Ray Garton - As sad as it may sound, I think everyone has been the victim of bullying at one point in their life. It may be physically, mentally, or even emotionally, but I think it’s safe to say we’ve all been there. Ray tells of a Halloween night where the attempt to avoid a bully results in a group of friends witnessing something they shouldn’t have. Next time, stay closer to home while Trick or Treating. THE HALLOWEEN TREE by Bev Vincent - This was a very atmospheric tale about a boy who is afraid of an old, creepy tree. He and his friends decide to get the “good candy” while Trick or Treating, and it leads them right past it. Are his fears founded in some truth? You decide. PUMPKIN EATER by C. A. Suleiman - This was my least favorite of the lot. It wasn’t so much scary, as depressing. A husband and wife are in a loveless marriage and decide to end it in their own fashion. WHEN THE LEAVES FALL by Paul Melniczek - This was a long one, almost a novella actually. Paul’s writing is so descriptive, that I could almost smell the leaves, and feel the chill in the air. He paints a perfect Halloween evening, right down to the moonlight. But this story revolves around that one old house (in this instance a farm), that everyone had in their neighborhood - the “haunted” one that legends handed down tell you to avoid. You know, the campfire tales that your older siblings tell you about. But, what if those urban legends were based in some fact? You may do well to listen and not let curiosity take control. I have to honestly say, this volume was more atmosphere and tales of caution, than it was of horror. None of them had me looking over my shoulder, or wondering what the noise in the other room was. Most of them, however, brought back wonderful memories of walking in costume as a youth, leaves swirling and crunching beneath my feet, the laughter of friends talking, and the thrill of knocking on doors to receive candy. I believe those days are slowly dwindling away. I watch each year as my full candy bowl stays that way by the end of Halloween night - with many families going to Church “Trunk or Treat” activities, or to the malls for a “safe” Halloween party. It’s stories like these that will (hopefully) keep the tradition alive for future generations.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Madelon

    Reviewing short stories is hard. There is a part of the review process that relies heavily on the visceral impression of the tale. Although all the stories in this book are basically of a theme, each stands on its own, complete in every respect, including that visceral thing that says great or good or it's just OK. As I read the anthologies edited by Brian James Freeman, I have come to appreciate the short story form more just by recognizing the individuality of each narrative and its author. No Reviewing short stories is hard. There is a part of the review process that relies heavily on the visceral impression of the tale. Although all the stories in this book are basically of a theme, each stands on its own, complete in every respect, including that visceral thing that says great or good or it's just OK. As I read the anthologies edited by Brian James Freeman, I have come to appreciate the short story form more just by recognizing the individuality of each narrative and its author. No doubt, he knows how to pick just the right stories to fit whatever theme the book presents. Each volume of HALLOWEEN CARNIVAL presents five different perspectives on a holiday that is at once fun and games, and mayhem and terror. THE MANNEQUIN CHALLENGE by Kealan Patrick Burke The lengths to which some folks will go to prove a point, a cruel point, is astonishing. (4.5 stars) ACROSS THE TRACKS by Ray Garton Some stories lead you down the proverbial garden path of horror, complete with nerds and bully boys, and then, just when you expect one outcome, wham! A different, and somewhat confusing end. It's still a 4 for good writing. (4 stars) THE HALLOWEEN TREE by Bev Vincent I can relate. For me it was a small hole in the concrete directly over a putrid canal in Brooklyn. Children have enough sense to follow their instincts. They haven't been jaded by adulthood. When you 'follow your gut,' you are channeling your inner child. This tale of tween boys is both scary and heartwarming, (5 stars) PUMPKIN EATER by C. A. Suleiman Tastes differ. Husbands and wives are often mirror images of each other. One may obsessively love Halloween while the other can take it or leave it. Whose side are you on? (5 stars) WHEN THE LEAVES FALL by Paul Melniczek There is that old saying about leaving the best for last… well, I didn't find that to be so here. Melniczek has written a long tale that, at times, gets the adrenaline pumping with anticipation, but you never quite know why. It's hard to say more without giving it all away. (3 stars) I have to say that this is the first time I've come away from a Brian James Freeman anthology not wanting to read more by every author featured. It is always important to keep in mind that all of this is one woman's opinion. You may come away with a completely different overall feeling than I have. There is one more HALLOWEEN CARNIVAL that beckons, and the big day is almost here.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Danielle Steenrod

    Halloween Carnival is a horror anthology. There are 5 volumes of this series being published throughout the month of October. This is the fourth installment. There are a total of 5 stories in this anthology; all of which center around Halloween. Some are sad, some are nail-biters, and some are just plain horror. This series isn’t all out gore, so if that is what you are looking for, you won’t find any of that here. I really enjoyed all 5 of these stories for different reasons. I am going to give Halloween Carnival is a horror anthology. There are 5 volumes of this series being published throughout the month of October. This is the fourth installment. There are a total of 5 stories in this anthology; all of which center around Halloween. Some are sad, some are nail-biters, and some are just plain horror. This series isn’t all out gore, so if that is what you are looking for, you won’t find any of that here. I really enjoyed all 5 of these stories for different reasons. I am going to give a brief review of each story contained in this anthology and my star rating. THE MANNEQUIN CHALLENGE by Patrick Burke Such a great starter for this anthology. It was just downright creepy and quite disturbing at times. This was quite a short story, but it turned out to be my favorite in this collection. I rated this story 4 out of 5 stars. ACROSS THE TRACKS by Ray Garton Moral lesson of this story: don’t walk into houses just because the door is unlocked. A trio of friends learned this the hard way. I did enjoy the majority of this story, but the ending seemed a bit rushed and left me a little confused. I rated this story 3 out of 5 stars. THE HALLOWEEN TREE by Bev Vincent Children tend to have overactive imaginations. The main character in this story is afraid of the tree down the street. Is it all in his head, or is there more to this sinister tree? You’ll have to read this story to find out. I rated this one 3 out of 5 stars. PUMPKIN EATER by C.A. Suleiman What happens when a sinister plot to murder your wife goes awry? Women are a lot smarter and cunning than they let on. Don’t underestimate your wife! This husband learns that the hard way! This one was a short, yet demented story. I quite enjoyed it! I rated this one 4 out of 5 stars. WHEN THE LEAVES FALL by Paul Melniczak This was the longest story of the collection and the one that dragged the most. It definitely could have been cut in half. I still enjoyed it regardless of its length. I rated this story 3.5 out of 5 stars. Overall, this anthology is a great read for the spooky season! Pick it up if you love short horror stories! My total rating came to 3.5 out of 5 stars! Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for sending me an advanced copy in return for an honest review.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Charli

    I have no words. This anthology in the Halloween Carnival series was terrible. Literally, the only story that was in any way particularly memorable was The Mannequin Challenge. Even that story wasn’t all that great. The Mannequin Challenge was the best story in the book. Even then, it seemed like I’d read it before – definitely not in Volume 4 as unlike Volume 1, I’ve only read Volume 4 once. No, it seemed I’ve read this one before in another book – or perhaps a story similar to it. Honestly, I d I have no words. This anthology in the Halloween Carnival series was terrible. Literally, the only story that was in any way particularly memorable was The Mannequin Challenge. Even that story wasn’t all that great. The Mannequin Challenge was the best story in the book. Even then, it seemed like I’d read it before – definitely not in Volume 4 as unlike Volume 1, I’ve only read Volume 4 once. No, it seemed I’ve read this one before in another book – or perhaps a story similar to it. Honestly, I don’t understand the ending or how any of the people were able to just hold their positions through what was being done, but whatever. Across the Tracks was just dumb. Straight out dumb. The ending made zero sense and honestly, there really wasn’t anything creepy or scary about the story at all. It was just dumb. The Halloween Tree was another one that was just plain dumb. A bunch of kids who are scared of a tree because they think it’s going to grab them. And what they do when it does. Big deal. This one reminded me of something a kid would write. I have no idea why Brian James Freeman thought this was one of the stories that was the epitome of Halloween. Pumpkin Eater was OK. It was better than some of the others, but it still wasn’t great. It did have a nice plot twist toward the end, which is the story’s only saving grace. Again, I don’t get why this was chosen, but maybe I just don’t have the same taste as the editor. When the Leaves Fall was the longest story in the book and frankly, I just don’t understand what was going on. Everyone says to stay away from a particular farm, yet everyone is basically working for this farm? What? Why? How? Not a single one of those questions is answered. The main character even says none of his questions were answered. What kind of story does that? Seriously, just no. Especially when you take half the book to tell your tale! I was highly disappointed in this second-to-last installment of the Halloween Carnival series and gave it 1 star. ***I received a copy of this book free from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are 100% my own.***

  23. 5 out of 5

    Douglas Castagna

    The fourth in a five part series. Net Galley provided this book for an honest review. THE MANNEQUIN CHALLENGE by Kealan Patrick Burke For some, office parties are the highlight of the season. For others, they can paralyze with dread. Theo is determined not to let his anxiety stop him from attending—though maybe he’s right to be afraid. Work place gatherings can be awkward. There are cliques and sometimes you feel like you just don't belong. Never so much as in this story. Well paced and very creep The fourth in a five part series. Net Galley provided this book for an honest review. THE MANNEQUIN CHALLENGE by Kealan Patrick Burke For some, office parties are the highlight of the season. For others, they can paralyze with dread. Theo is determined not to let his anxiety stop him from attending—though maybe he’s right to be afraid. Work place gatherings can be awkward. There are cliques and sometimes you feel like you just don't belong. Never so much as in this story. Well paced and very creepy. Good start to this installment. ACROSS THE TRACKS by Ray Garton The candy’s always better on the other side of town, even if it means crossing paths with bullies. But a rich house with an unlocked door might just be too good to be true. . . . A favorite author of mine combines trick or treat fun with some bullies, adds a dab of hot for teacher action and tops it off with some horrific scene of depravity. Intrigued yet? You should be. Great story that leaves you wanting more. THE HALLOWEEN TREE by Bev Vincent Every town has one: a house or a field or an old tree that just gives off a bad vibe. Of course, those feelings are just silly superstition, nothing to take seriously. Right? Its just an old tree, or is it? Obsession and fear take hold and where can it go? Nicely paced, suspenseful and satisfying. PUMPKIN EATER by C. A. Suleiman Peter loves Halloween—almost as much as he hates his wife. Luckily, his favorite holiday presents an opportunity to fix his problem. After all, putting his wife in her place should be as easy as pie. Peter, Peter Apple Pie eater. Nasty little tale of revenge. WHEN THE LEAVES FALL by Paul Melniczek Haverville always seemed like a typical town to me: a place where people work hard, and no one ever really leaves. Until the night I went to Graver’s Farm—and discovered what Haverwille was really hiding. Slow in parts but it picks up near the end. Not my favorite story in the bundle.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Hannah

    ARC REVIEW THE MANNEQUIN CHALLENGE by Kealan Patrick Burke "For some, office parties are the highlight of the season. For others, they can paralyze with dread. Theo is determined not to let his anxiety stop him from attending—though maybe he’s right to be afraid." blurb I hated this one. It was mean and sad and it's the kind of story a bully would tell because he thought it was funny. It's not. There was absolutely nothing wrong with how the author wrote it he has a great style but just the conten ARC REVIEW THE MANNEQUIN CHALLENGE by Kealan Patrick Burke "For some, office parties are the highlight of the season. For others, they can paralyze with dread. Theo is determined not to let his anxiety stop him from attending—though maybe he’s right to be afraid." blurb I hated this one. It was mean and sad and it's the kind of story a bully would tell because he thought it was funny. It's not. There was absolutely nothing wrong with how the author wrote it he has a great style but just the content alone was just mean. ACROSS THE TRACKS by Ray Garton "The candy’s always better on the other side of town, even if it means crossing paths with bullies. But a rich house with an unlocked door might just be too good to be true. . . ." blurb Once again bullies. This book left me with the distinct feeling of WTF was that. THE HALLOWEEN TREE by Bev Vincent "Every town has one: a house or a field or an old tree that just gives off a bad vibe. Of course, those feelings are just silly superstition, nothing to take seriously. Right?" blurb Entertaining and fun, there is always that one tree that creeps you out and in this case they have reason to be. PUMPKIN EATER by C. A. Suleiman Peter loves Halloween, pie as long as it's dutch apple, and pumpkins. His hobby of building concrete pumpkins started years ago and gradually they have increased in size. Lucky for him this years are bound to be the biggest, big enough even for his lying cheating wife. Peter, Peter pumpkin eater, had a wife and couldn't keep her. My favorite out this anthology. It was dark and twisted and a great ending WHEN THE LEAVES FALL by Paul Melniczek "Haverville always seemed like a typical town to me: a place where people work hard, and no one ever really leaves. Until the night I went to Graver’s Farm—and discovered what Haverville was really hiding." blurb This is definitely the longest one in here starting just before 50%. It was just ok, there were things I liked about and other things that fell flat. I liked the concept of it but the execution didn't work for me. It had such a exciting build up toward the end but an almost anti-climatic ending. Overall, my least favorite volume. 2.5 stars

  25. 5 out of 5

    Michael

    I received a copy of Halloween Carnival Volume 4 from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review So far the series has been pretty decent, and I like that the series has remained strong throughout. These have all been great and each volume has kept the gore and violence down to a minimum. This is really a series for all fans of horror. Each volume has a little something for everyone which is what makes it so great. After reading volume 4 it's clear that if you want to start this series out of o I received a copy of Halloween Carnival Volume 4 from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review So far the series has been pretty decent, and I like that the series has remained strong throughout. These have all been great and each volume has kept the gore and violence down to a minimum. This is really a series for all fans of horror. Each volume has a little something for everyone which is what makes it so great. After reading volume 4 it's clear that if you want to start this series out of order, you should start here. This one is the one you must read, and the sad thing is I haven't even made it to the last volume yet, and I'm already declaring this one the clear cut winner. What makes this one so good? The novella Where The Leaves Fall is a head scratcher of a tale, but it's written so well, and is just creepy enough to make you keep reading to find out what's wrong with this town, and then of course you have Ray Garton who never fails to disappoint, and the Mannequin Challenge is just creepy and odd. The stories here are simply amazing and are perfect for those chilly October nights, or if you're like me, anytime at all really. When you have a great collection like this why save it for Halloween? Read it anytime at all. Volume 4 is a horror fan's dream because all of these stories work well, and it elevates the series. The greatest thing about this series is that you have newer writers mixed in with people you're already familiar with. It breathes new life into the genre and introduces these new faces to a wider audience. This has been a great series full of great stories that should become a Halloween tradition Each volume contains just five stories so it doesn't take a lot of time to read through them. I read the first four volumes in under a day, and now as I prepare for volume 5 I feel a little sad because it's slowly winding down. How will volume 5 stack up? I guess we'll find out soon enough.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Justin Sobanski

    This is the fourth in a series of short story collections to be released throughout October this year. This was much like the third entry in that it was consistent though I thought this entry was a bit more enjoyable. The Mannequin Challenge opens this collection on a nice note. In the end it felt a little unexplained but that's not always a bad thing in a horror story. The second entry, Across The Tracks, has a very nice setup and brought back memories of being a kid at Halloween. The payoff did This is the fourth in a series of short story collections to be released throughout October this year. This was much like the third entry in that it was consistent though I thought this entry was a bit more enjoyable. The Mannequin Challenge opens this collection on a nice note. In the end it felt a little unexplained but that's not always a bad thing in a horror story. The second entry, Across The Tracks, has a very nice setup and brought back memories of being a kid at Halloween. The payoff didn't quite meet the setup but it was another well done story. The Halloween Tree suffered a bit by following Across The Tracks as they have a similar setup. A little bit of a step down in terms of scariness but very good at capturing the feel of childhood fears. Pumpkin Eater was a nice change of pace, not really supernatural but a look at a very disfunctional relationship. I felt shades of Gone Girl in that there really are no likeable characters. The last story in this collection is When The Leaves Fall, the longest entry by far. I thought it had a great setup but this was one where there could have been a bit more explanation to better understand the stakes. Overall this was another really solid entry in the series and I would definitely recommend it if you're looking to get in a Halloween mood. I'd order the stories in this order from favorite to least favorite: The Mannequin Challenge Across The Tracks Pumpkin Eater When The Leaves Fall The Halloween Tree I received an advance copy of this title for review.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Anadosen

    THE MANNEQUIN CHALLENGE by Kealan Patrick Burke For some, office parties are the highlight of the season. For others, they can paralyze with dread. Theo is determined not to let his anxiety stop him from attending—though maybe he’s right to be afraid. ACROSS THE TRACKS by Ray Garton The candy’s always better on the other side of town, even if it means crossing paths with bullies. But a rich house with an unlocked door might just be too good to be true. . . . THE HALLOWEEN TREE by Bev Vincent Every to THE MANNEQUIN CHALLENGE by Kealan Patrick Burke For some, office parties are the highlight of the season. For others, they can paralyze with dread. Theo is determined not to let his anxiety stop him from attending—though maybe he’s right to be afraid. ACROSS THE TRACKS by Ray Garton The candy’s always better on the other side of town, even if it means crossing paths with bullies. But a rich house with an unlocked door might just be too good to be true. . . . THE HALLOWEEN TREE by Bev Vincent Every town has one: a house or a field or an old tree that just gives off a bad vibe. Of course, those feelings are just silly superstition, nothing to take seriously. Right? PUMPKIN EATER by C. A. Suleiman Peter loves Halloween—almost as much as he hates his wife. Luckily, his favorite holiday presents an opportunity to fix his problem. After all, putting his wife in her place should be as easy as pie. WHEN THE LEAVES FALL by Paul Melniczek Haverville always seemed like a typical town to me: a place where people work hard, and no one ever really leaves. Until the night I went to Graver’s Farm—and discovered what Haverwille was really hiding. The book are amazing. When I started reading I couldn't put it down.Keep up the good work.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Paul Anderson

    Halloween Carnival Volume Four (Hydra, October, 2017) edited by Brian James Freeman includes four new stories and one reprint. Kealan Patrick Burke’s “The Mannequin Challenge” is a nasty little tale that’ll stab you in the eyeballs. “Across the Tracks” by Ray Garton is truly frightening, and it’s so well-written it deserves a Stoker nomination. Three middle-school boys are bullied by Ed Mortimer and his minions on Halloween, and you expect something really bad will happen. But what does happen, Halloween Carnival Volume Four (Hydra, October, 2017) edited by Brian James Freeman includes four new stories and one reprint. Kealan Patrick Burke’s “The Mannequin Challenge” is a nasty little tale that’ll stab you in the eyeballs. “Across the Tracks” by Ray Garton is truly frightening, and it’s so well-written it deserves a Stoker nomination. Three middle-school boys are bullied by Ed Mortimer and his minions on Halloween, and you expect something really bad will happen. But what does happen, is beyond your expectations. “The Halloween Tree” by Bev Vincent has some intense moments each time the boys pass the tree and the Corrigan house. “Pumpkin Eater” by C. A. Suleiman is about pies and pumpkins and a marriage made in hell. “When the Leaves Fall” by Paul Melniczek is the longest story in the book, and one of the best. More than just a tale of a boy and his dog, it’s downright creepy. Halloween Carnival Volume Four is definitely worth a read.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Annette Jordan

    A perfectly timed seasonal collection of short stories, ideal for dipping into when you have a few minutes to spare. The first story in the collection, The Mannequin Challenge by Kealan Patrick Burke is about a nightmare work party, and definitely gets the book off to a disturbing start. Next up we have Across The Tracks by Ray Garton, a slightly longer story that clearly shows people are the worst monsters of all. The Halloween Tree by Bev Vincent uses a common childhood experience to evoke fea A perfectly timed seasonal collection of short stories, ideal for dipping into when you have a few minutes to spare. The first story in the collection, The Mannequin Challenge by Kealan Patrick Burke is about a nightmare work party, and definitely gets the book off to a disturbing start. Next up we have Across The Tracks by Ray Garton, a slightly longer story that clearly shows people are the worst monsters of all. The Halloween Tree by Bev Vincent uses a common childhood experience to evoke fear. Pumpkin Eater by C.A. Suleiman is my personal favourite, a well known nursery rhyme becomes the inspiration for a dark and twisted tale of murder and revenge. The final and longest story in the book is When the Leaves Fall by Paul Melniczek , where the mysteries of Graver's Farm are revealed. Overall the stories are more disturbing than outright frightening, but enough to give the reader a delicious chill here and there.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Eric

    THE MANNEQUIN CHALLENGE by Kealan Patrick Burke A fun little story with an interesting if not entirely likable protagonist. The ending leaves some things unexplained, but in this case it’s not only fine but it works. ACROSS THE TRACKS by Ray Garton Great trick-or-treat adventure story with some spunky kids and good surprises. THE HALLOWEEN TREE by Bev Vincent Ditto from the Garton book, although in this case the surprise is not terribly surprising. Still satisfying. PUMPKIN EATER by C. A. Suleiman P THE MANNEQUIN CHALLENGE by Kealan Patrick Burke A fun little story with an interesting if not entirely likable protagonist. The ending leaves some things unexplained, but in this case it’s not only fine but it works. ACROSS THE TRACKS by Ray Garton Great trick-or-treat adventure story with some spunky kids and good surprises. THE HALLOWEEN TREE by Bev Vincent Ditto from the Garton book, although in this case the surprise is not terribly surprising. Still satisfying. PUMPKIN EATER by C. A. Suleiman Probably the weakest story in the bunch and the one that had the least to do with Halloween. Nice little twist toward the end. WHEN THE LEAVES FALL by Paul Melniczek My favorite entry. Close to a novella in length, it goes deep into its lore and hints at even greater horrors left unrevealed. A bit overwrought at times, but not so much that it gets in the way of the story.

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