I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.WHISPERED ECHOES by Paul F. Olson
Published by Crystal Lake Publishing on June 23, 2017
Genres: Dark Fantasy, Dark Fiction, Fiction, Ghost, Horror, Mystery, Occult & Supernatural, Paranormal, Psychological Horror, Supernatural
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Old-school horror creeps back to life in this stunning new collection from Paul F. Olson. Featuring tales of uneasy spirits, buried secrets, dark beings, and untold mysteries, originally published in the ‘80s and ‘90s and out-of-print for decades. Whispered Echoes also features the first-ever publication of Bloodybones, a brand-new novella of loss, longing, and chilling horror. With a foreword by Chet Williamson and an introduction by the author, this is a collection guaranteed to leave you with subtle shivers long after the covers are closed.
An ancient voice speaks from the depths of a long-forgotten cave …
As a violent storm rages overhead, the scratching sounds begin in the cellar below …
A man inherits the family talent, but what price does that legacy demand …?
A return to the family homestead brings overwhelming memories, but the darkest memory of all still waits in the ravine out back …
An unassuming tourist quietly strolls through town, leaving devastation in his wake …
A late-night call from an abandoned camp brings a frightened cop face-to-face with his darkest fears …
A wild joyride ends with a surprise reunion and an encounter with the impossible …
A man searches for answers at an abandoned lighthouse and uncovers an unspeakable past …
WHISPERED ECHOES, by Paul F. Olson is a collection of eleven previously published stories, and one new novella. In the introduction, it states that this title was “meant to evoke long-lost voices from the past”. While this is true of many of Olson’s earlier stories, it also pertains to the “style” of the writing itself. These stories aren’t the gore-infused “splatter punk” that we see more of lately, but rather give off a more “old-fashioned” sense of horror. Whether this is merely implied, or shown through the senses of a tale’s character, the reaction is just as potent emotionally and mentally to the individual reader.
In most collections, I’m satisfied if about half of the stories strike a chord with me. In WHISPERED ECHOES, I can honestly say that I found nearly all of them genuinely impressive.
“. . . I’m finding it harder to believe there’s any such thing as right or wrong left anymore. Different . . . I think that says it best.” (Taken from “The More Things Change”).
Some of my personal favorites were:
—“The Visitor”: A great story to start off the collection! In Patterson Falls, there’s a “little man” who takes a room there each year from October first until early November. Unfortunately, accidents seem to follow in his wake . . . “. . . I felt a very palpable sense of impending trouble gathering in my chest . . . “
—“Homecoming”: This was a brilliant story that I never saw the end to. When Beckett notices a fourteen-year-old boy at a road side bar, his cryptic comments of: “She had no right”, start setting off alarm bells.
—“They Came From the Suburbs”: A chilling piece about the “obsession” shopping in the mall becomes for people who have nothing better to do in life . . . and maybe death. . .
—“Guides”: The best fisherman guide in town begins coming home empty-handed on each of his trips out to sea. “Something happened to him . . . something had changed . . . almost like he was doomed . . . “
—“Down the Valley Wild”: Donnie Stewart returns to the cabin his father used to take them to, in order to face memories of his long-gone brother, Dale. “. . . He wasn’t sure if he still wanted to keep the memory at bay or not, but it was too late for such distinctions. Choice was not a factor. Free will, if it had ever existed, was gone . . . “ **This was probably my favorite story in the collection, second only to the novella “Bloodybones”. It was a deeply emotive, literary story full of memories–both good and bad–acceptance, sorrow, and of course, horror.**
“All debts must be paid.”
—“Bloodybones”: This is the new novella included in this collection for the first time. After his girlfriend, Amy’s, disappearance six months prior, David visits the lighthouse she used to live in. A surprise meeting with Amy’s sister, Karen, begins to unearth some of the mystery–and messages–each may have been receiving . . .
“Bloodybones is walking . . . He’s here . . . “
“How do you explain getting a phone call from a woman who has been gone . . . for over six months?”
Overall, a fantastic collection of horror stories that will have you running the gauntlet of emotions.
“The things I don’t understand are the only things I’m sure of.” (Taken from “Bloodybones”).
About Paul F. Olson
Paul F. Olson has been a professional writer and editor for more than thirty years. He is the author of the horror novel The Night Prophets and Alexander’s Song, a novel of dark suspense, along with many short stories, essays, reviews, interviews, articles, and other works.
His earliest stories have been reissued in the 2016 collection Whispered Echoes, which also includes the new 36,000-word novella Bloodybones.
In the 1980s, he published and edited Horrorstruck: The World of Dark Fantasy, a non-fiction trade magazine for horror fans and professionals. Teaming with David B. Silva, he co-edited the anthologies Post Mortem: New Tales of Ghostly Horror and Dead End: City Limits. He and Silva also created the award-winning newsletter Hellnotes, which they edited together for five years.
Following Silva’s death, Olson joined with Richard Chizmar and Brian James Freeman to edit the tribute anthology Better Weird. The father of adult twin daughters, he currently lives in Brimley, Michigan, not far from the shores of Lake Superior.
I am an avid reader/reviewer of books--primarily horror, thriller, supernatural, and mystery.