8 Pounds: Eight Tales of Crime, Horror, and Suspense
When I was seven, I knew three things, and I knew them with absolute certainty. The first was that I was never going to grow up. Adults were adults and kids were kids, and that’s just the way it was. Second, I knew that every boy possessed some weird need to scare you, and therefore they weren’t to be trusted.
The third thing I knew was that there were monsters in the dark. Always. Anywhere there was a dark corner to be found, something sinister would sit and watch. And of course turning on the lights didn’t do much good…because as everyone knows, monsters move fast.
It shouldn’t surprise you to learn that I didn’t sleep real well as a child.
Of course I grew out of it. No more staring contests with whatever sat in the shadows. No more imminent death at night when the old house creaked. Now I watch my son, fearless at 4, taunting whatever lives under his bed, and I have to laugh and ask myself how I could have been so wrong. And that’s what makes what I have to say all the more difficult.
I can’t sleep because of Chris F. Holm.
Seriously. The guy’s messed up. I had heard really good things about Holm’s collection of short stories, 8 Pounds: Eight Tales of Crime, Horror, & Suspenseand I started reading it late one night after my husband and my little one passed out. And let’s just call that what it was, alright? It was Mistake #1. I thought I was immune to tales of the things that go bump in the night. It turns out that whatever lives in the shadows thought that was pretty funny. Clearly, Chris Holm still feels compelled to scare the hell out of me.
Okay, yes, I had some warning signs. The first story in the collection, “Seven Days of Rain,” won the Spinetingler-Award and it set the bar pretty high for the rest of the stories. Probably too high, I figured. After all, you always put your hit songs on Side A, right up front. Right? Yep. Mistake #2. Through each of the stories, Holm just finds a way to pull you along with him and you don’t have much choice but to follow into his dark, should-probably-be-medicated little world.
Don’t get me wrong, this guy can write. In “The World Behind,” — a freakishly compelling story about a boy who takes refuge from a bully in the woods behind his house — Holm’s gift for character development creates a feeling of claustrophobia….the character’s fear quite literally becomes your fear. It’s yours. You own it. And yet, as much as I just wanted to put the book down and wake my husband up, I really didn’t want that one to end either.
I like to think I don’t scare too easy though, so do me a favor? Read “The Toll Collectors” and tell me how well you sleep tonight. Me? The seven-year-old in me is back to sleeping with the lights on for awhile.
If I had one complaint, it would be that now I want a Chris F. Holm full-length novel. Fortunately, Dead Harvest comes out in March of 2012 from Angry Robot Books, so I suppose I can wait,
I just hope that thing under the bed doesn’t eat me first.
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