In Briana Morgan’s latest collection of horror shorts, we have eight stories that run from the supernatural to the every-day, including;
- The Tricker-Treater—A supernatural force visits elderly widow Moira on Halloween with a proposal of a deranged game with terrible consequences
- Moratorium—A grieving daughter views a beloved picture of her deceased mother with fresh eyes.
- The Dive—Two men take a boat out to sea in search of a mysterious box. What are they looking for, and who could have sent them?
- The Hanging of Constance Evans—Set in Salem in the 1600s, a young woman is set to be executed for the crime of being a witch. Have the townsfolk made a grievous mistake, or are there really witches in their midst?
- Charity—When one of his parishioners passes away unexpectedly, Father Hildebrand comes into possession of the deceased’s wine cabinet. When the cabinet turns out to be haunted by the restless spirit of its former owner, Father Hildebrand must do his duty to help him move into the next life.
- The Session—A counselling session between two former castaways reveals more than either party expected.
- The Mistake House—A family finds that a house that is able to change at will may not be the easiest place to live.
- The Job—Two hitmen take a last-minute job over the festive season, with a most unexpected target.
What drew me to the book was a promise of a diverse collection of stories that would have something to offer for every type of horror reader and, while it certainly delivered on that, I was disappointed to finish the book and find that I didn’t really connect with any of them.
It is not Morgan’s writing that is the issue here. She is clearly a very talented writer and her prose flows well and is very evocative, effortlessly painting a vivid picture with her stories. The issue is that the stories being presented aren’t all that engaging. Many suffer from an underdeveloped premise, conflicting logic, or simply not having enough substance to justify their inclusion.
While none of the stories are particularly egregious examples of this, neither are any particularly standout. While I loved the visuals of “The Mistake House,” there isn’t much of a story there and it reads like an interesting concept sorely missing an actual narrative to hang it on. “Charity” started off strong but is dragged down by an overstuffed middle and a twist ending where the logic doesn’t quite tally. “Moratorium” was perhaps my favorite of the collection but, even then, the emotional payoff doesn’t quite land how it should due to insufficient build-up. There are moments or concepts that show real promise but at no point did I feel this potential was reached.
An unusual example of a self-published work let down by the stories themselves and not the execution, The Tricker-Treater is an exceptionally well written, but poorly conceived collection of stories that are never quite the sum of their parts.