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Reviewed by Grant Leishman for Readers' Favorite
The Whispered Tales of Graves Grove is an anthology of dark and scary short stories with a difference. When the creators of this anthology called for submissions, they stipulated that all the stories must revolve around the mythical town of Graves Grove, a small town in the wilds of British Columbia, Canada. The town was unique in many ways in that it appeared to be a nexus or a meeting place for all sorts of paranormal activity, be it vampires, fairies, shape-shifters, ghosts and demons. The town itself has a collection of odd-ball and off-beat characters, but nothing defines Graves Grove as much as 1/ The bronze statue of the town’s founder, which somehow seems to changes its clothes on a daily basis; 2/ A giant sycamore tree that dominates the town park and is the centre of many of the rumours and stories about Graves Grove; and 3/ A history of missing children, on a regular basis spanning over a hundred years. All this makes for an intriguing set of stories from a number of authors, including: J.S. Bailey, E.D.E. Bell, Mark Andersen, Matthew Howe, Travis Perry, Kelsey Keating and Dakota Caldwell, plus many more.
The concept of writing a series of short stories, across time, centred on one small town is an interesting one and one that did work. With many of the principal weird characters and situations already set in place by the editors, it allowed the authors free license to stretch their imaginations and, indeed, that is exactly what they did. The Sycamore Tree, which dominated the entire premise, was a central theme in almost all the stories, with the authors coming up with many and varied ideas as to what the tree was capable of, what it harboured beneath its roots, and what weird and wonderful creatures actually lived near or inhabited the tree. I found the variety of the writing to be especially refreshing and, in actual fact, many similar themes appeared in different stories from different authors. As with any anthology, some stories stuck in my mind and resonated more with me than others. Three particular favourites of mine were: Where’s Matheson Lam by S.R. Betler, Fairy Troubled by Catherine Bonham, and Magick by D.M. Kilgore. If you want something different in a short story anthology, then The Whispered Tales of Graves Grove may well be right up your alley.