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Darryl Dawson

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The Crawlspace: A Collection Of Short Horror Stories
by Darryl Dawson   

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Publisher:  Fear Of Sleep ISBN-10:  0615414829 Type: 


Copyright:  Jan 18, 2011 ISBN-13:  9780615414829

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Seventeen terrifying original tales gathered together in one powerful horror anthology.

"The Crawlspace" is where horror hides, where nightmares collect and breed, where darkness takes shape. In this exclusive, expanded edition of Darryl Dawson's highly-praised anthology, you will find seventeen stories that will captivate you and make you see horror in a whole new way. 

Feel yourself in the clutches of an angry ghost that rises with a teacher's carnal temptation. Taste the unspeakable delicacy of a mad ice cream man. Try to escape from a museum where the visitors become the exhibits. Lose yourself in the rhythm of the most terrifying lapdance you'll ever receive.

These unique stories of ghosts, ghouls, monsters and madmen will chill you like nothing before. You're invited to step into THE CRAWLSPACE, but be might get locked in!

"Four stars!"  "Bravo!"  "One horror anthology that is sure to thrill!"
- Debbie Wiley, Book Illuminations

"Fans of horror stories will find The Crawlspace to be a frightening, attention-grabbing read."
- Melissa Levine, Independent Professional Book Reviewers

"(The Crawlspace) will - at the very least - shock, surprise, and unnerve you...(an) imaginative anthology...definitely not for the squeamish..."
- Renee Washburn, Apex Reviews

Delta peered around the corner and saw the display.

It was a small stage, separated from the rest of the room by a wall of clear plastic from the ceiling to its base. A single spotlight was shining on a white, plastic lawn chair.

Next to the chair, lying face-first on the floor, was a short-haired woman.

The woman moved, tried to get up. She was a slender woman in her forties with short-cropped blonde hair wearing a tank top and shorts. Her face was attractive, yet gaunt and sagging with despair. She stood up and turned her head. There was a small incision on the back of her neck just below the base of her skull, not stitched up, but not bloody.

Delta pounded against the wall of Plexiglas that curtained off the stage. "Are you okay?" she yelled, but the woman inside ignored her as the despair on her face was turning to wide, red-eyed terror as she slumped onto the chair.

"What’s going on?" Delta pleaded. "What is this place?" She thought she heard something that sounded like a gunshot out in the hallway.

The woman on the stage opened her mouth without uttering a sound. Her fright-colored face darted around in all directions until it settled on a shopping bag, plain and square, standing just out of the spotlight. She trembled.

And then she began to smile. Her eyes remained wide and red and she shook her head back and forth as her quivering fingers reached into the bag. But she smiled; it was a forced, unnatural smile, wide and gruesome.

She pulled out something that looked like a hair brush, but instead of bristles it had nails, long and thick and sharp and infected with specks of rust.

The woman laughed. Through the clear, plastic wall Delta could hear her high-pitched, manic giggle. It sounded inhuman, like it was coming from a place miles away from joy or amusement. The laughter of the mad.

No horror movie she had ever endured could prepare Delta for what she was about to see.

She saw the woman plunge the nail brush into her scalp and carve bleeding furrows from her forehead down to the back of her neck, again and again, shaking and laughing, glistening red stripes dripping down her face, specks dotting her shoulders. Bleeding. Laughing...

- From "The Puppet Show"

Professional Reviews

Book Illuminations
(Four stars)
Darryl Dawson gives readers a glimpse into the macabre, providing unsettling tales that fit together perfectly into one horror anthology that is sure to thrill!

The anthology kicks off with my favorite story, “Hamburger Lady”, in which a teacher tells of a ghostly appearance. Retribution is a key element to this story and Darryl Dawson creates a haunting atmosphere that makes it believable. “The Puppet Show” features a bizarre attraction at a deserted gas station. Anyone who has ever stopped at one of those isolated gas stations will get a shiver down their spine after reading this tale! “The House With No Clocks” shows a gambler whose luck is about to take a turn for the worse. “I Am He Who Laughs Last” is a new twist on the dangers of viral videos. Short but frighteningly realistic! “The Crawlspace” ties in with the cover and was easily the most horrifying tale for me, thanks to a fear of all things bug-related. “A Test of Faith” features a controlling, abusive husband and an act that changes it all. Darryl Dawson does an excellent job at conveying the abusive nature of the husband and making the reader sympathetic to the wife. “Trick” is a story of revenge by an old lady at Halloween. “I Scream, You Scream” takes on the ice cream man and turns him into a nightmare figure. “The Paper Technique” shows a hypnotist trapped by his own tricks. “Chien Sauvage” shows a cheating husband getting his comeuppance by a woman he meets online. “Yellow” offers a new perspective on the traffic light. Short but stunning! “Closing Time at Teddie’s” is about a haunted nightclub where a birthday takes a dangerous turn. “Connecting Flight” concludes this anthology and features a boy at an airport who can levitate. Just how far will he travel?

THE CRAWLSPACE offers up a variety of tales for all lovers of horror short stories. Ranging from the bizarre to the mundane (with a twist, of course), Darryl Dawson covers the gamut in his anthology. “Yellow” and “Hamburger Lady” are two of my favorites and both are very different in their impact but with one key similarity- retribution. Darryl Dawson taps into the reader’s need for justice, often offering it up in terms that can be both satisfying and disturbing. This is the mark of a good horror writer- one who can make explore your fears while at the same time drawing on societal issues, such as sexual abuse, adultery, and domestic violence. Bravo!
- Debbie Wiley

Independent Professional Book Reviewers
The Crawlspace: A Collection of Short Horror Stories by author Darryl Dawson, is a compilation of thirteen stories that range from the psychologically terrifying to the brutally gruesome.

In “The Puppet Show,” Delta and her boyfriend Tyrone are on a road trip when they stop for gas. Tyrone is persuaded by the attendant to check out the “House of Smiles Puppet Show.” After a stop at the restroom, Delta goes in search of her boyfriend. The attendant directs her to the entrance of the puppet show. It is in fact, the entrance into a house of self-inflicted torture.

“A Test of Faith” is the story of Helen, a victim of domestic violence. In addition to physically abusing her, Helen’s husband tortures her psychologically with biblical references and a daily game of Russian roulette. She has a wish that her husband uncovers, but it does not stop Helen from moving forward with her deadly plan.

In the title piece, “The Crawlspace,” a prodigal son returns home to reconcile with his parents after a three-year absence. When Shawn enters his childhood home, the place appears empty. But there is evidence of recent activity in the house. There is also the sound of insects or rodents coming from underneath the home. When Shawn goes into the crawlspace to investigate, the mystery of his parent’s whereabouts is revealed.

For the most part, Dawson’s stories are gripping and quickly captivate the reader. In some of the tales, the pacing is a little too fast, but for the majority of the stories the author eases the reader into the action creating suspenseful set-ups that often come to disturbing endings. The author blends a variety of themes into the horror focus including family violence, personal discontent, and addiction.

Fans of horror stories will find The Crawlspace to be a frightening, attention-grabbing read.

- Melissa Levine

Apex Reviews
(Four stars)
A twisted ice cream man puts a certain "special ingredient" in the frozen treats that he serves to unsuspecting children...a young couple visits a "puppet show" - the featured players of which are more lifelike than they could ever imagine...a teacher finally discovers the disturbing truth of a salacious urban legend - but may not live to share it...

Included among the thirteen short stories featured in The Crawlspace, the aforementioned tales of horror will - at the very least - shock, surprise, and unnerve you. Such is the goal of author Darryl Dawson in crafting his imaginative anthology - a goal he succeeds in reaching quite well.

Part suspense, part thriller, part macabre - and all gruesome - The Crawlspace is definitely not for the squeamish. In his wide variety of vignettes, Dawson pulls no punches in putting the darker, more sinister aspects of human nature on full display, all the while framing his tales in a disturbing realism sure to force the reader to take a cautionary step back in the face of their stark realistic potential. As loath as we may be to admit it, there are legitimately psychotic individuals breathing the same air and occupying the same space as we do every day, and we have no idea of the full depths to which their disturbia goes - but The Crawlspace certainly provides invaluable insight into the nightmarish realities lying just beneath their benign façade.

Raw and gritty - yet strangely fascinating - The Crawlspace offers a peek into the dark hearts and minds of what we can only hope is a very, very small minority of the greater human population.

- Renee Washburn

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