Book Review: The Awakening & Other Stories by Emma Meade

Cover ArtTitle: The Awakening & Other Stories
Author: Emma Meade
Genre: Short Story Collection, Horror
Age Group: Adult
Rating: 4 stars
Purchase: Goodreads, Amazon

Put on the kettle, close the curtains and curl up by the fire. Dive into 8 short tales, each with a slice of the paranormal.

Ghost Story – Who is the shadow in the window of the abandoned house, and what or who is he waiting for?
The Awakening – It’s time for Sabrina to wake up and face the light.
End of the Line – Cassie wants to die. When midnight rolls around, she stands on the tracks waiting for the train to come.
Milsa Loris – The once magnificent kingdom of Milsa Loris comes alive one night each winter. The King’s witch is brewing up a little magic, sure to make the soup all the tastier.
The Old Vampire – Hailey spent her life dreaming of a dark prince falling in love with her. He never showed up, until now.
The Knocking – Alison’s grandfather has one eye on the next life. After all, he’s heard a lot of rapping at his door lately.
The Boy on the Beach – Kate’s grandmother warns her about the boy with the green eyes. Will she pay heed?
Snowglobes- It’s busy at Calvin’s Cabins this Christmas. Eddie and Maggie are a young couple in trouble. Not to fear, Calvin is always ready to lend a hand.

The Awakening & Other Stories is a quick, deliciously scary anthology to read through. It comes up at around 70 pages, and offers eight stories. I think I finished it in under an hour. The stories fit nicely together. They’re all themed around horror, paranormal horror in particular. I like anthologies that have one central theme or topic, and that was certainly the case here. I’m going to talk about all the stories in detail, and then give a general opinion at the end.

Ghost Story – This was one of my favorites. Like the title suggests, it revolves around a ghost. Two girls, Jessica and Michelle, go into a haunted home, where supposedly a man killed himself. While Jessica’s grandma warned them not to go in, they go in anyway, and there Jessica has a heartfelt, although slightly creepy encounter with the ghost. I loved this ghost story, although it was a tad bit predictable, it reminded me of what ghost stories used to be like before Hollywood entered the scene. A nice read.

The Awakening – This was more like a kind of vampire / Sleeping Beauty story. Sabrina dreams about being another girl, but the lines between dreams and reality shift, and the ending is pretty creepy. This was one of my favorites as well.

The End of The Line – Cassie has been trying to commit suicide for a while now. She’s depressed, and she can’t seem to snap out of it. She jumps in front of a train, but instead of dying, she ends up on board of “The Death Train”. It’s inhabitants are people who died on the train racks, and they tell her their stories. By the end of the night, Cassie has two choices: go back, and live the rest of her life, or stay dead. I loved the concept of this, but felt like the execution was a little rushed at times. This story had enough meat to be turned into a novella;

Milsa Loris – I wasn’t too fond of this one. It’s different all right. A city is captured by tragedy, death and despair, and an old witch tries to stop the inevitable from happening. It was a nice read, but I couldn’t grasp the characters.

The Old Vampire – I actually liked this one. Hailey has always been a fan of paranormal romance books, and she’s dreamt her entire life a vampire would come and grant her eternal life and beauty. Now she’d old and withered, and the vampire has finally come…But is it too late? I liked this take on vampire stories. Very original, and I liked Hailey’s voice.

The Knocking – This was another win for me. Alison is taking care of her old grandpa, who’s suffering from illness, when she starts hearing knocking sounds on his door. When she opens the door, there’s no one there. The knocking continues, growing in intensity…Who is coming for grandpa? I loved this story, it gave me goosebumps, and had a nice build up.

The Boy on the Beach – Not too fond of this one. I liked the beginning, but the story fell a little flat toward the end. Kate has been warned to stay away from him, but she’s drawn to him all the same, and well, things go haywire from there. I didn’t like Kate, she was too superficial for my liking.

Snowglobes – Another winner. I thought this was perhaps my absolute favorite. Calvin rents cabins to young couples, some of them trying to work on their relationships, others happy with each other. When another young couple arrives, Calvin believes he has to save their love, before it ends. This was an original, intriguing, delightfully creepy story.

Overall, this anthology had a decent collection of solid stories. Most of them are related to ghosts or supernatural powers, and one to vampires. I liked the variety, and that even though the stories vary you can still see the theme. The writing was decent, although here and there the pacing was a little off. Like “The End of the Line” for example. It was a great concept, but the build up before the suicide took too long, and afterward everything was rushed. This story could’ve easily been made into a novella. My favorites are Snowglobes and The Old Vampire, but really, I liked all of these stories. Milsa Loris would be last on my list.

If you’re looking for a quick, ghostly, creepy read, then The Awakening & Other Stories is a great choice.

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