Cold Comforts
Marianne Halbert
Crossroad Press
June 24, 2019
Reviewed by Elaine Pascale

While I find nothing comforting about the cold, I do seek solace in well written horror stories, and this anthology has plenty of them. Cold Comforts is a clever, creative collection. There was not a bad story in the bunch, but a few did stand out:

“When Betsy Whispers”:  this story anthropomorphizes a hanging tree, which is later converted into an electric chair. Betsy is full of passion, and her connection to the condemned is eerily erotic.

“Housing the Hollygobs”: Lynette teaches her cousin Tad about the Hollygobs, who steal shoes unless an honorary house is crafted for them. Hollygobs are no Keebler elves: they are menacing and not to be toyed with.

“’Neath Fallow Ground”: I always wanted to write a cicada story, but Halbert beat me to it, and I will not be able to match the sprawling creepiness of this one.

“Hey Karen”: a story of an estate sale with a twist. While this story ties into the timely practice of mocking Karens, it will continue to resonate with readers in the future. “Hey Karen” has a nice Twilight Zone/Black Mirror vibe.

“A Used Infinity”: Vinny doesn’t realize what his newly acquired Infinity had been used for, until a possessed GPS helps him to solve the mystery. This story is as sad as it is suspenseful.

“A Bone to Pick”: I want to share the opening lines of this story, to provide evidence of Halbert’s masterful prose: Even before that chunk of limestone found its way into her skull, most folks in Posey County had an opinion about Molene Mueller. Those who felt sorry for her after the accident lied, and said she’d always been a sweet child. While Molene may not have been sweet, she is gifted with special powers that create a gripping and disturbing plot.

I highly recommend Cold Comforts. It is eclectic and entertaining. It is a collection that would be appealing to a broad audience. As the stories are not gory, they would be appropriate for even those who might shy away from the horror genre.

About Elaine Pascale

Elaine Pascale had been writing her entire life. She lives on Cape Cod with her husband, son and daughter. Her writing has been published in several magazines and anthologies. She is the author of Blood Lights, and If Nothing Else, Eve, We’ve Enjoyed the Fruit. Elaine enjoys a robust full moon, chocolate, and collecting cats.