Updated: Oct 19, 2021
Welcome to the Funhouse: A Carnival Horror Anthology.
Published by Bloodrites Horror.
Edited by Kelly Brocklehurst & Jamie Stewart.
This anthology from Bloodrites Horror is a really solid collection of stories based around the carnival theme. While the theme did start to wear a touch thin towards the end, the variation and consistency between stories kept the enjoyment levels up. Below are my thoughts on each story.
MIRRORS BY ROBIN GRIEVE
A wonderfully evocative start to this anthology, filled with vivid imagery. It reads as a nightmarish fairytale / poem, like Alice In Wonderland on the bad drugs. Get Tom Waits to narrate it & put it on a record. A++
CANDY APPLE SMILES BY CHRISTOPHER ROBERTSON
A tantalising slice of dark psychedelic horror, filled with a dream logic that makes sense somehow & conjures a great many visions. Another strong inclusion to the anthology.
THE CYCLONE SISTERS’ TRAVELLING CIRCUS BY ANGELA SYLVAINE
A sinister circus visits town & claims new minions with each visit. Can a girl protect her young brother from the Cyclone Sisters? This was a fun one with heart; a palpable sense of danger & it’s own dark mythology.
ANNA AND ABBY BY L. PINE
Family sticks together, until it can’t anymore. A fantastic tale, mournful & heartbreaking. A beautifully told tale of two sisters who work in the carnival & one sisters yearning for freedom. My favourite story so far.
THE PROP BY NIKKI R. LEIGH
This was a nice change of pace which starts as the story of a carnival worker with a self healing power but cleverly pivots into a budding romance between two young men who attended the carnival.
THE VIPERESS OF LAS CRUCES BY C.W. BLACKWELL
A beautifully written tale, although one with a plot device that I struggled to get on board with, but the writing was good enough for me to want read more by this writer. The titular Viperess is an interesting character & one I’d like to see more of.
THE GOLDEN TICKETS BY ROXIE VOORHEES
Another nicely written tale of young LGBTQ lovers & the hardships they face. A visit to the carnival could offer a chance to escape. The supernatural element here works well & is a personal fave of mine so bonus points for that & the nice subtle twist at the end.
DANCE WITH US BY KELLY BROCKLEHURST
We get our first abandoned amusement park in this story & of course it’s got some sinister surprises in store for a group of teens who decide to explore it. A nice bit of spook-a-blast fun.
NO STRINGS BY JAMIE STEWART
A father wins a strange doll for his daughter at the fair. I like how this story starts at the Fairground but the majority of it takes place afterwards at the girls home. Jamie weaves in a broken marriage, YouTube & demonic dolls in this fun , freaky tale.
FAMILY OUTING BY BRIANA MORGAN
A fairly simple tale of familial discontent framed around a trip to a water park. While the narrative didn’t 100% grab me, the writing was on point.
MIRRORED BY DAVE MUSSON
We are back at the carnival for another coming of age story involving the House of Mirrors. When the town bully chases a teen boy in there, he falls victim to the wrath of the mirrors, but the mirrors may not be done with the picked on teen just yet. An interesting idea, well told, though carnival fatigue is starting to set in a bit now.
SMILE AT ALL THE GOOD TIMES WE HAD BY SPENCER HAMILTON
We go out on a high note with this dual timeline story set in the fabled Smileyland amusement park. A great end to a really solid anthology & cant wait to dive into other Smileyland stories in the future.
4 razor blade candy apples out of 5.