Below is the heartfelt review of my editor on Do The Dead Dream?, Joyce Combs. It was so kind of her to do this, and she did it in the comments section of Marc Schuster’s Small Press Reviews review. I must add that while Joyce and I worked on this book, she started calling me “ghoulishly romantic”! I must admit, I kinda like that!
Thank you, Joyce, for doing this–as well as all your incredible help in the creation of the anthology! And thank you, Marc, for allowing me to use her comments in your review on my site.
Review, by Joyce Combs, editor, Do The Dead Dream?
First of all I think Marc’s review of DTDD? tells the whole tale in a nutshell…this collection is deep. And, yes, scary. It’s also gruesome and gory at times. I was his proofreader (he graciously designates me as editor) and needed to read these several times…which in most cases was no problem…and many cases was life enhancing each and every time…but a few of them gave me the creeps at best and nightmares at worst.
So many unexpected twists and turns occur in these stories; “Red Hands” comes to mind because I was not expecting, at all, where it ends up based on where it began. On it’s surface you’ll find it a great metaphysical mystery, but at its core is an invitation to be open to new interpretations of the unexplained and that which defies explanation. The macabre love stories are among my favorites. Frank has some unique takes on romance in this collection that are heart warming and heart breaking…and all, I could tell, were heartfelt. He must have a soft spot in his heart for unconditional love along with the strange spot in his mind for conditional weirdness…a really cool combination as it turns out.
The collection begins with “The Wreck,” which is outlined so well in Marc’s review. I LOVE this story…I LIVED this story each time I read it…and I read it more times than was necessary from a proof reading standpoint because the experience was palpable; and the conclusion was life altering from a metaphysical standpoint because he condensed much of the material I’ve been studying all my life into a few brilliant passages.
There are many stories in this collection that show we are often times our best when faced with the worst…one of these, “Broken Windows,” is my very favorite from Do The Dead Dream? I related to it on a personal level as it took the protagonist on a journey back to childhood trauma, then opened a doorway to catharsis and closure and forgiveness.
Frank…let me thank you publicly for seeking me out to assist with the delivery of your collected short stories. I gained more than I gave.