Centralia, chances are you’ve heard of that city, town, or tiny little speck on a map somewhere.
It’s almost like the slightly less famous little brother of the name Springfield, there’s at least 12 of the bastards spread across this country.
But…what if there’s more to it than just a random and overused name?
What if, like, some new shit has come to light, man?
Those are the questions raised here, that maybe these towns are connected by some darkness…some underlying evil…
Though I’ll try to keep it as spoiler free as possible, just to cover myself, this is your official ***SPOILER ALERT***
Probably the creepiest of the stories for me was the first, Grandma’s Eyes by Heath Amodio.
A young girl, Jenna, stricken blind in a freak car accident develops a condition that forces her to avoid her grandma or suffer painful headaches.
Cut ahead a few years and the girl and her Mom get a call from Granny, she’s nearing death.
So, as most folks would, Jenna and her Mom make the trip to see Grandma and say their goodbyes.
A Certain Kind Of Forest Sound by Adam Cesare, when you boil it all down, is a disturbing tale of the call of the wild.
A hiker spends a summer day doing what hikers do, when a sound grabs her attention and draws her into gory mayhem.
The overwhelming majority of short stories and novels make it feel like a story is being told at you, not to you.
They have a stiff delivery that almost feels cold, but not these two!
Both of these stories, but especially the first, have some of the most naturalistic dialogue I’ve ever read, and it is beyond refreshing.
Let’s get this out of the way right now so it doesn’t distract or taint (hahaha, I said taint!) what’s to come.
Yes, I listen to the Tell ‘Em Steve-Dave podcast.
Yes, I’ve seen Impractical Jokers, some of the show and the movie.
So this is your, apparently, prerequisite “Oh my god, it’s Colonel Q!
Let’s all dog pile on the rabbit!”
Good, that’s taken care of.
Now let’s all be honest here, if you look at the many reviews I’ve written or if you’ve heard me talk over the years, you know I am a sucker for an off-kilter detective story.
If you need proof of that then scroll up to the search bar and type in “Dan Shamble, Zombie P.I.” or “MONK” and it’ll be laid bare for the world to see.
The title alone tells you this is going to be an untraditional detective: G.B. Bolt And The Case Of The Grabbed Ghost by Brian Quinn.
A fuckin’ robo man spends his many years investigating supernatural occurrences!
Yeah, I’m in!
But as easy a sell as that is for me, I do have two issues here.
The first is an issue that A Certain Kind Of Forest Sound also has.
Both, while delivering information that is important to building the worlds of their respective stories, have a certain distracted circuitousness in them that is…slightly frustrating.
It’s sort of like the narration of both has an almost folksy charm in them when talking about history and then they need a smack in the back of the head to get back on course.
Not an issue major enough to impact enjoying either story, but something that definitely stuck out for me.
Now my other issue is something that plagues the final story as well.
The Grasp Of Wraiths by Cullen Bunn and G.B. Bolt And The Case Of The Grabbed Ghost both feature the most criminal of offenses, the worst of all possible atrocities!
Both end with a glimmer of hope that these characters could possibly appear again some day, but we don’t know when!
*dramatic music plays*
But, some how, even worse, both hint at numerous possible prequels that just do not exist!
*even more dramatic music plays*
It’s an act of unforgivable pure evil from both of them.
In The Grasp Of Wraiths, a mysterious figure is called by an unlikely ally to investigate a series of gruesome murders that may or may not have deep roots that tie it to a Civil War era massacre.
That’s right, gang, we have another Supernatural detective on our hands, and I am happier than a pig in shit.
This one has a damn spooky and well drawn word picture of a dude who spends a good amount of his time dealing with the world between worlds and the critters what inhabit it.
This collection includes two other stories, Sundown by Michael Patrick Hicks and The Valley Of The Yunwi Tsunsdi by Brian Keene, that I haven’t even touched on, but I have to leave something for you to discover on your own.
Before reading this, I’ve not read anything from any of these six writers.
But that’s something I’m willing to change now.
All know how to do the words good like and such, and build a great sense of dread that’s fitting for the season.
Centralia: Epicenter is available on Halloween, you can pre-order it now on Amazon!
Let us know what you think of this review in the comments below or share this post on Twitter with the Hashtag #TNBBookReview.
And you never know, I may yet have another Halloween themed review up my sleeve.
Special thanks to @ACFerrell1976 for her continued editorial assistance.