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Cemetery Sonata II
edited by June Hubbard
Chameleon Publishing

Cemetery Sonata II
June Hubbard
June Hubbard grew up in the Southern-most hills of the Appalacians. She holds a degree in Creative Writing from Georgia State University. As the owner of Chameleon Publishing, her current goal is to locate new talent and bring back the good old ghost stories of the past. Titles can be ordered from:
Chameleon Publishing,
3430 Salem Drive,
Rochchester Hills, MI 48306.

ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: Dead Promises
SF Site Review: Night Voices and Careful What You Wish
Chameleon Publishing

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Lisa DuMond

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All right. It's true that I passed on the first volume, Cemetery Sonata, when it came through the channels. After sampling a couple of the short stories, I decided it just wasn't strong enough. Something has definitely changed with Cemetery Sonata II; either Hubbard's editing skills have grown exponentially or she is getting the cream of the crop in submissions now or I was wrong about the first volume. I can't recommend Cemetery Sonata II strongly enough.

This anthology, this duet of life and death, is a wide-ranging exploration of the thin line between self and spirit. It is a spellbinding journey through the dark valley, with the sun bright above us. Most important: Cemetery Sonata II is more a comforting arm around the shoulders than an attempt to frighten.

From the short, sharp jabs of "Grass Grows Back" by Maren Henry, a cautionary tale with no hint of malice, and the taunting tone of "Vandals," by Don Hornbostel, with its inevitable conclusion, the anthology does more to accustom us to the inevitability of death than to increase our dread. The race-against-time pace of Suzanne Donahue's tragic "Lost" still manages to emerge as a gentle encouragement not to stage a fight humans cannot win. Even the sorrowful "The Passing" by Denise M. Bruchman leads readers by the hand to that last, most difficult step -- letting go.

Some of the stories step up with a frigid jolt of horror. "Swamp Bodies," "More Than Music," and "Ticket To Arkansas" -- spooky as they are, rise above a quick scare to become a moment for reflection, a chance to see the entire process from a different perspective. Danielle Knight's story of love and betrayal, "I've Been Waiting For You," contains standard horror fixtures, but leaves with us the ache of loss and the sting of tears.

As in almost every anthology, there are some stories that strike at a sensitive spot in the mind and heart. Take Kim Guilbeau's tormentingly lonely "Linger," where you will meet Emelia -- quiet, tranquil, exhausted. Sometimes, death needs a helping hand, no matter the strain on the assistant. Sometimes, death is a welcome relief when we are able to see it from both sides.

Most astonishing though, is Susan Fry's vivid and haunting "Another Couple." No doubt, there will be those out there who will claim the story's message for pro-lifers; others will argue fiercely for the second chances Fry presents. Forget that pointless debate. Lay down those chips we carry on our shoulders. Weep and smile and, for once, just feel the weight of choices and consider that a decision is only one minuscule instant in the cycle of life.

Somehow, this group of stories focuses on the greatest of our fears and leaves us astonishingly serene. Not many books genuinely have that effect. Ghost stories have never felt quite like this before. Let us all hope this experience comes again sometime. Sometime soon, please.

Copyright © 2000 Lisa DuMond

In between reviews and interviews, Lisa DuMond writes science fiction and humour. DARKERS, her latest novel, will be published in early 2000 by Hard Shell Word Factory. She has also written for BOOKPAGE and PUBLISHERS WEEKLY. Her articles and short stories are all over the map. You can check out Lisa and her work at her website hikeeba!.


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