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[Note to readers: Yes, you caught me.  Of this month’s special Halloween reviews, this one was previously posted here.  But I ask you — how could I not include it here?]
While I don’t typically read poetry – I believe this is the first book of poetry in my library, with the exception of some epic poems and sagas – I do love horror and Halloween is my favorite holiday, so this was a natural section for me. This collection contains forty-one poems (Halloween is 10/31, so 10+31=41) by a variety of authors. Not all were familiar to me, but most readers will likely recognize the names Joe Lansdale, Al Sarrantonio, Gary Braunbeck, and Tom Piccirilli, among others.

The poems range in size from a three-line ditty to one long poem that goes on for more than twenty pages. Most poems take up a single page and are loosely grouped by topic: Trick or Treat, Pumpkins, The Season, Ghoulies, Ghosties, etc. They range in tone from light and full of whimsy to dark and bloody. Most, I would say, lean slightly toward the lighter end of the spectrum.

I don’t want to systematically go through all the poems and deconstruct them in this review, so I’ll simply say that the half-dozen by Lansdale clearly stand out head and shoulders above most of the rest (the man truly has a gift for words), so these are my favorites along with the one long poem, “Cap’n Hook,” by Bradley Denton.

I can see myself returning to this one during the Halloween season, so I heartily recommend it to those who love Halloween as a holiday as well as those who would enjoy a lyrical (and slightly whimsical) treatment of horror. Good stuff.  I give it 4 stars out of 5.

Full disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book through the LibraryThing Early Reviewers program in exchange for a review. This has not influenced my review in any way.

Review copyright 2010 J. Andrew Byers

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