Edited by Tim Lieder

Reviewed by Paul McAvoy

When this collection of short stories was first offered for review, I jumped at the chance with nervous anticipation. I told Peter Tennant (who's chief whisperer in charge of who gets to review books and stuff) that I would do anything, and he set me on a quest to save a fair maiden who was trapped in a dragon's castle. Not only had I to bring the maiden home, I was to also fetch him a tooth from the dragon's jaw. Not an easy task, oh no, but I did as he asked, and here I am, safe and sound. Only a couple of burns.

But what a title, huh? Teddy Bear Cannibal Massacre. It brings forth images of the absurd, of the daft, of the sick. So, Peter had the maiden and the tooth and I found this lying on the doormat one morning. I ripped open the parcel and peered at what was within. Nice cover, good size, glossy. Picture of a teddy bear looking mean with a fly swatter. Big letters inside state "11 Stories of fear, obsession and killer clowns."

So... onto the stories. Guess I was a little bit disappointed with the intro. Formaldehyde by CC Parker was wonderfully narrated with gutter speak, but seemed to lack something - like a good ending. Paul Haines' Doof Doof Doof' was of a similar ilk, but things began to take a turn for the better with Peppercorn Rent by Roberta Rogaw and Rats, Wrong Alley was an absolute hoot. Great story telling by Tim Johnson and wonderful twists and turns. This one will stay with me for a while. It is the story of an armed robbery and how things all go wrong and about people getting their just desserts (!) Need I say more? Brilliant Suspension by Trina Shealy Orton was... okay, but I felt it read like a school essay.

You know, when you receive these free books and magazines to read you do feel obliged to give good reviews, or emphasise the good points, but why do that? The editor needs to know where he has gone wrong, and so does the writer. So the first half of this collection has ranged from rather good to rather poor... what of the second half?

Blue Elephants seems out of place, yet having said that it is very good. It is a series of musings and observations told in a comic way, and I enjoyed this a lot, and the writer Jenifer Jourdanne has a flair for this kind of narration. Now Hermetic Crab makes this whole collection worth its weight in, er... Teddy Bears... What a joy to read. Once again, a tale told with tongue in cheek, where Cameron Hill carries you along with glee as you turn every page - another tale that will stay with me for a while. Rob Steussi's Head Drippers moves along nicely and so does Something Funny is Going On by Brian Rosenberger. Then we have Clob, another highlight, about a man with an invisible friend and his love for a lady - it is a nice little love story written by Michael Stone. Berries Under Snow by William Brock is the last tale, which seems to swindle a bit and is perhaps a disappointing finale....

However, top marks to the editor Tim Lieder. This is a great collection on the whole. Like I said, a few poor stories here, but it is well worth the read.

Teddy Bear Cannibal Massacre edited by Tim Lieder. Dybbuk Press pb, 144pp, £8.66 from Amazon UK. Also available from Project Pulp

Website: - www.dybbuk-press.com

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