Everyone Loves Clowns and Other Tales

by Thomas Cranham

“Because outside the walls the monster (no dragon but pain) had arrived and it struck the barrier with tooth and claw, fire and fist, and little Emily’s defender, her knight was nowhere to be seen.”

Consisting of six dark tales and a novella and written by one of the CD forum’s very own, this book covers a variety of horror.

The two top stories deserve some special attention:

The book’s opener, “Oh To Be Alive,” deals with zombies. This can be a very bad thing. The zombie sub-genre has been butchered beyond what you’d think reparable and many have largely written it off in favor of other horror, a position a story like this can cause you to rethink. Told from the perspective of an intelligent zombie we follow Henry Waterford as he navigates a landscape where the undead are born a few minutes after peoples’ deaths.  It has a voice, it tackles societal issues in the tradition of Romero’s first Dawn of the Dead, and evokes some of the prejudices shown more recently in District 9. It’s a story that challenges our lifestyles, our outlooks and our discriminations, and has the power to spark debate. These types of stories get us thinking, and with enough of us thinking we just might make it out of life alive.

Most important is the final tale of the book. The title novella, Everyone Loves Clowns, is magic. Barely 5 years old, a girl’s life is in jeopardy battling cancer. An imaginative young Emily is nearly alone in her world of books, beholden to a teacher who resents Emily’s mental prowess, and largely ignored by her classmates until the circus comes to town. After attending Emily is convinced the clowns are eating her peers as she deteriorates from her illness. The author weaves a tale of fancy and horror detailing Emily’s perspective, and a heartrending relationship develops between Emily (the Princess) and her ridiculed classmate Jasper (the Knight) as the clowns, the other classmates, the teacher and the disease are battled. Stories like this are good reasons to read in the first place.

Well done, Mr. Cranham.

4 stars

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