All Things Deadly (Salem Stories) is a collection of loosely related stories by Erik C. Hanson. ATD (SS) has been nominated for Bram Stoker Award for the Collection category. Although the Bram Stoker Award is granted by the Horror Writers Association, I would only call a few of the stories in this collection horror. Some are slice-of-life, which in a post-Covid world, is horrific enough. Some Rod Serling would have been pleased to buy to film as Twilight Zone episodes.
The first of the twenty-odd stories (excuse the pun) is “The Frosts – An Introduction” which introduces the two main characters, paranormal investigator Adam Frost and his daughter Sutton.
“Taunt That Witch” and “Crunchy Bits” are two of my favorite stories, and two of the must traditionally frightening ones. I also liked “Freewrite Friday,” although as an ex-teacher, I didn’t think Mrs. Fredericks’ lessons were appropriate to the grade she was teaching; I did like the rest of the story.
“The Old Man” is one of the more powerful stories in the collection, although it may offend some readers. “While [Bernie’s] dream was exceptionally short, he had achieved it. The fact he would be dead in a few minutes was utterly irrelevent.” There are few happily ever afters in this book. There are wins and losses, petty triumphs, petty but painful defeats, moral victories, pointless deaths. Life in Salem is often short and senseless, but so is life everywhere these days. Some characters learn from their errors; most merely suffer.
“Revenge Tour” shows how cruel deliberate cruelty can be in the 21st century.
Harold Roberts of “Stalker 101,” Barbara Fredericks of “Freewrite Friday,” Lynn Vanderloo and Samantha Deavers of “Red Couch” — this book is full of unforgettable characters who will linger in your memory long after you’ve closed the covers of the book. Not necessarily nice people, no, but memorable.
“She was wrong about him,
which begged the question: Was she wrong about many people?”
All Things Deadly (Salem Stories) might not be the best book to read right before bedtime, but it’s definitely a book worth reading.