I bought this book at a convention because it caught my eye and I’d got chatting to the author. As a kid, I loved reading books about local legends and folklore then retelling them to my friends at sleepovers or on the dull bus journey to school. The title and cover appealed to this nostalgic part of me.
This is a great book, if you come at it from the correct angle. I wasn’t sure what to expect and at first was a little disappointed by the level and style of writing. Reading the first couple of stories, it felt rather plain and lacking in verve, particularly if you compare it against the stories in the Mammoth series of anthologies, one of which I’d just finished reading. The imagery in Campfire Chillers is not grand and the prose is remarkably uncomplicated.
And after a few stories, it struck me: this isn’t supposed to be a book with grandiose language and detailed descriptions. It’s not simply a collection of stories which focus on camping trips gone wrong or solo travellers led astray, but it’s a book of stories designed to be read aloud around a campfire. This isn’t a book for reading on a train or in a sunlit garden; it needs to be read in a dark room, possibly with a crackling fire to add ambience, or out under the stars. Then, its simple language comes to the fore and enables you to read it aloud without stumbling over complex language, like other books might do.
As in all anthologies, the stores are of a mixed quality, with some being brilliant while others are merely mediocre. Stories I particularly enjoyed were “The Camp Creeper” which had an expected conclusion and “Witches Brew” which had a disturbing final scene. In my opinion, weaker ones included “Tooth and Claw” as there was no explanation of the monster or its purpose, and six pages does not give you enough time to gain any empathy when there are six main characters.
If you’re a teenager or you’ve got teenage kids, and you’re bored of the usual urban legends that have been retold a hundred times, this is the book for you. Come to this book with the right attitude, and you will enjoy it. And if you’re going camping, be sure to pack a copy.
Review by Charlotte Bond
Charlotte has had several short stories published in various formats from print to electronic and even audio. She has a novella out with Screaming Dreams publications, and a short story anthology due out this year. She is currently working on a novel and some radio productions.
Charlotte is thrilled to join the Ginger Nuts of Horror team, and is looking forward to indulging in two of her favourite things - reading new books and spouting opinions.
Originally from North Yorkshire, Charlotte now lives in Leeds and that's as far south as she's prepared to go. She is married and lives with a small child and a very fluffy cat. One of them is a small bundle of hurricane-level energy which tears up everything it passes; the other leaves hairballs wherever it sits. It is left up to the reader to decide which is which.
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