Black Occult Macabre Vol. 1 Issue 7 by Scott Hale
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
The title *may* be misleading. Spoiler alert! There aren't actually six other issues of this magazine! lol This is a fairly standalone short story.
I'm a mess of emotions when it comes to trying to review this short story. On the one hand, it's horror and self-referential reality-bending loops. It also has a fair dose of cameos from villains and even a few heroes from The Bones of the Earth. Nothing wrong with any of that. A bit of a modern mentorship program going on, with nasty necklaces and missing dolls, carnivorous trees and ghosts.
Mind you, this was a short story. A lot of interesting things flew by, but the MC seemed a little all over the place. What age was he, really? From the excessive hyperbole at the beginning, I thought he was in his early teens. At the end, I thought he was in his early twenties. School-time with his peers felt distinctly middle-school, but the emailed critique felt very college-like.
There was a lot of this kind of confusion, and while reading it, it annoyed me. It distracted while I was focusing on the bloody adventure he was writing a chronicle for. I can't help but think that this short story would have been better served in a longer tale that could have exposed and explored the aging craziness, because there was way too much to be anything but deliberate.
Unlike the other two shorter works, there was something very disjointed about this one, but it didn't ruin my enjoyment of it. It glories in its horrorifics and adds dimension to the greater worldbuilding inherent in the rest of Mr. Hale's tales, but let me be honest: it belongs in an anthology of related Hale-Tales, and not truly as a standalone.
That being said, hold off on reading this until you've read the others first!
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