Read 666: The Number of the Beast by Peter Abrahams Free Online
Book Title: 666: The Number of the Beast|
The author of the book: Peter Abrahams
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 9.69 MB
Date of issue: September 1st 2007
ISBN 13: 9780545021173
Read full description of the books 666: The Number of the Beast:This is an anthology of scary stories. Many are written by acclaimed horror authors, some are written by paranormal YA authors, and some are by authors who I don't care enough about to look up. Here's a detailed review of each one:
Channel 99 by Peter Abrahams: 2/5
The anthology opens with one of the worst stories it features. The prose was awful; there were a bunch of sentences that made no grammatical sense, and it was very, very choppy. The story wasn't much better; it was odd and confusing. (Get used to that; odd, confusing stories are one of the most prominent problems in the book.) I will admit this, though: there were some parts that were genuinely suspenseful. Actually, there was one scene, in which the main character tried to stop herself from getting tortured, that gave the most suspense I felt in the entire book. And it did have a good premise. It just didn't do much that was good with it.
The Legend of Anna Barton by Laurie Faria Stolarz: 3/5
While significantly better than the last one, this wasn't great. The prose was good. It could be awkward sometimes, but it was normally passable. And I LOVED the ending. It was genuinely surprising, and exactly the kind of thing that a story like this needed. The main problem, however, is that a lot of the character interaction was unfocused. Characters changed subjects way too frequently, which made it hard to get a real sense of tension from it. This actually ruined the story. (Well that, and the awkwardness in the prose). It took a great premise and story and sucked all of the tension out of it. What a waste of potential; one more re-write, and it could've been great.
Saving Face by Christopher Pike: 4/5
Easily the best so far, and the best for a while. The prose was good, although it was often flat and uninteresting. Additionally, the ending was confusing and nonsensical. However the first 25 pages (yes, 25. This is by far the longest story in the book) were so amazing that I could let it go. This was mainly created by the story's great handling of beauty, jealously, rivalry, ect. The paranormal elements that came in the end were almost unnecessary; I would've been perfectly fine if this was a realistic story. I also liked that the characters were developed. In a story this long, it would've felt weird if the characters were flat and boring, the way they might've been in a shorter story. Fortunetly, that's not a problem; I felt like I knew Jill and Jane quite well. It also had a great premise, and unlike The Legend of Anna Barton, it didn't fall flat. The last five pages weren't great, but everything before it was amazing.
The Little Sacrifice by Joyce Carol Oates: 1/5
This is by far the worst story here. In fact, looking back, I can't think of anything that I liked about it. The only good thing was that it was short - only four pages. But it was an awful 4. The prose was horrible. It was so incredibly purple and overripe in its attempts to sound authentic to its time period (whenever it took place; the story never says) that it often sounded ridiculous and laughable. For example, there's this quote:
All that day we searched for our little sister, and all that week, and all that month and year we would search for our little sister; and never would we abandon our search for her, for the remainder of our troubled lives. Had cruel fairies carried her off into the Underworld? Had a wild beast made its way through an open window as we slept, and borne her away into the woods, in his jaws? Or had our little sister simply vanished, as dew sparkling like gems will vanish on the grass with the inexorable rising of the sun, transforming the comfort of night into the starkness of day.
No, really, it actually says that. There's so much wrong with this, I don't even know where to being. This doesn't sound like it belongs in a serious story - it sounds like it's from a parody of one. Not to mention the overly-purple language, the unnecessary and confusing metaphors, and an annoying religiousness that doesn't fit the story at all. This is truly awful prose, some of the worst I'd ever read. And the other elements aren't better. Due to the prose being confusing and annoying, I didn't understand a good bit of the plot. Actually, beyond the narrator's sister disappearing, I didn't understand ANY of the plot. I had no idea what was going on. From what I could tell, the premise was also really, really dump and stupid and pointless. The overall effect? The story wasn't even slightly scary or creepy. It was just pointless. In short, I have no idea what this is, what it's doing in this anthology, or why anyone would show this to anyone without a MAJOR re-write.
If You Knew Suzie by Heather Graham: 2/5
This one had a lot of potential that was ruined by the ambiguity of the prose and the plot. The first half was actually really good, but it didn't really build up to anything that made sense. You could actually pinpoint the specific point in the story where the editor just said, "Screw this, I'm out of here." The second half of the story had awkward prose and a confusing story. It's too bad - the first half of the story has a lot of tension and suspense, and a very interesting look at relationships. But the ending ruined everything.
Slam Dance by Bentley Little: 4/5
This one was a lot better than the last couple were. The prose was sometimes a little awkward, but it normally worked. I also loved that the high school felt realistic, apart from the invention of 'slam books' for this universe. (Unless slam books are real things that I just haven't heard of.) However, this was the only story here that I felt like it should've been something more. It had an amazing premise, (everything Anna writes in the slam book she made comes true, even if it's an exaggeration), but it didn't feel fully developed; magic solved all of Anna's problems. I felt like if this were a whole novel, Anna would've got some consequences for using the slam book (both positive and negative), and we would've learned more about her and why people hate her. This wasn't a bad story (I rated it 4 stars, after all) - it was just an underdeveloped one.
A Trick of the Light by Chet Williamson: 5/5
This was my second favorite story in the book. (We'll get to my favorite in a bit.) The narrator had a nice, believable voice that never felt awkward. I also really loved the premise that showed off not only Williamson's ability to be scary, but an interesting perspective on relationships. It also showed off his amazing ability to avoid the cliches of a dying protagonist. (The narrator's girlfriend is dying in this story.) I don't have any major complaints about the story - it was one of the best.
Erased by Jane Mason: 3/5
This one wasn't bad, but it didn't make a really big impression on me, either. This is probably because the story felt pointless and unexplained. (Getting sick of hearing that yet?) It had pretty good prose, and a good premise, but it felt underdeveloped, underedited, and confusing.
Empire of Dirt by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes: 5/5
Amelia Atwater-Rhodes was the only author I was familiar with going into this anthology. That being said, I'm not particularly surprised that her story is my favorite of all the stories here. First off, the writing was amazing. Which it always is, when Atwater-Rhodes is writing, but compared to the rest of the book, it felt very mature and polished. I also loved the application of shapeshifters into the real world. The main character is a hyena shapeshifter, and everyone thinks he's an insane person and a compulsive liar for saying so. I also loved the characters. One of Atwater-Rhodes's talents is creating a very meaningful arc for characters in a short amount of time, and this is on display here. I wish the story had been a bit more explained, but other than that, it was perfect. I've been told that a couple of the characters in this story reappear in Persistence of Memory. I can't wait.
EDIT: Alright, I read Persistence of Memory. And, I have to say, this story was a lot better. I was really disappointed in the book.
Incident Report by Joshua Gee: 3/5
This probably would've been a 4 if I hadn't read it right after Empire of Dirt. After all, the writing was pretty good. But the characters, the world, the story... EVERYTHING felt underdeveloped compared to the last book. And the story was slightly confusing. In particular, I had no idea what was going on for the first third of the story, and the ending was nonsensical. It was a pretty good premise, and Gee obviously knows how to write, but it just fell flat here due to the lack of development.
Scapegoat by Robin Wasserman: 4/5
A lot better than the last one. The writing was great, and it was applied to a good and (gasp) DEVELOPED premise! Because of this, some parts were genuinely scary, in a way that the rest of the book wasn't. I do wish that it had been more meaningful about the relationship between parents and children and between friends. It obviously had the potential to be this. That being said, I think it still worked. The story could've been more explained, but the narrator didn't know any more about the world than I did, so it worked better than in other stories.
Imagining Things by T.E.D. Klien: 4/5
This one was my third favorite in the book. The writing was great, and so was the premise. Not to mention that the ending was very scary and suspenseful. I do wish it would've made an attempt to be more meaningful about loss and schizophrenia (I spelled that right on the first try! Yay!), but other than that, it was really, really good. Unfortunetly, the book goes downhill from here.
Grandma Kelley by David Moody: 2/5
Meh. This one wasn't awful, but nothing about it really stood out. The premise was really weird and stupid - I found it hard to take it seriously. The writing was pretty good, though; it didn't have editing issues, like a lot of the book did. However, the action sequence was confusing and unengaging; it was only the other parts that were well-written. I did, however, like the plot twist that came at the end.
Shelter Island by Malissa de la Cruz: 2/5
Note: This story was later reprinted for The Eternal Kiss 13 Tales of Vampire Blood and Desire.
This one was a very cliched paranormal romance, condensed into a short story. Stop me if you've heard this before: a vampire is watching a the lonely teenage heroine sleep every night for a while, but when the girl finds out about this, she doesn't really mind. She falls in love with him in a matter of days, despite them not really interacting very much, and she readily trusts him and offers him blood, even though she doesn't know anything about him. Hmm... where have I heard a similar premise? Oh, that's right, in almost every paranormal romance on the market today, even the ones I like. The story doesn't develop at all beyond that basic premise, and it doesn't do anything unique with it; it has the too-brave heroine and the insta-love, just like any other story. The only good thing about it was the prose, which worked, even if it was a bit underedited.
La Fleur de Nuit by P. D. Cacek: 3/5
This one had a relatively standard premise that could've been told a bit better. That's not to say that the prose was bad, because it wasn't - it was great. The reason I say that, is because like so many other stories in this book, it's undeveloped. The thing that would've made this story really creepy would've been watching the narrator slowly get more and more obsessed with the ghost that he's seeing. But unfortunetly, we don't see it. And the plot is so predictable, that you have to wonder why not - the story doesn't really have a point otherwise. I did, however, like the accuracy it showed to the time period (the 1700's).
Ever After by Isobel Bird: 2/5
Meh. This one wasn't the slightest bit creepy, and a little weird, mostly thanks to its crappy premise. It's mediocre, and awkward prose didn't help. Sure, there was some genuine mystery, but it didn't add very much to my enjoyment. Not to mention that the mystery is somewhat brought out of focus by the story's circular plot and conversations. Overall, one of the worst stories in the book.
Haunted by Ellen Schreiber: 3/5
This was basically "Shelter Island" with a better premise. Despite the non-sensical plot twist at the end, I could've been invested in the story up until then. This is helped by the story's mature prose that never felt underedited, which at this point, was more than good enough for me. But many elements were hard to take seriously. The guy she meets is somehow perfect for her, and although he's nice, the narrator's instant obsession with him is teeth-gratingly annoying. This is what I meant by it being just like "Shelter Island" - the romance was completely unbelievable and kind of cheesy. The narrator is convinced that this guy is the love of her life, despite barely knowing him. Overall, not a bad story, but most certainly not a good one.
Wolfsbane by Sarah Hihes Stephens: 2/5
Like the story's opening, this wasn't a story I was a fan of. The pacing was easily the worst part - the story consisted of seven pages of exposition and only three pages of things actually happening. It felt very unbalanced and weird. The premise wasn't that good to begin with, but the pacing issues - along with the fact that the plot is somewhat unexplained - kind of ruined it for me. The prose was pretty good, but other than that, there's very little to like in this volume.
Overall, this was a mixed bag, as most anthologies are wont to be. Some of the stories were creepy and successful, and some... weren't. The middle third of the book was definitely the strongest - it features all of my favorite stories in the book. However, the final third was so consistently horrible that they less than balanced out. Standouts: A Trick of the Light, Empire of Dirt, Imagining Things. The worst: A Little Sacrifice, Grandma Kelley, and Shelter Island.
I can't really find a particular reason to recommend or not recommend this book - when I averaged out all my ratings, it came out to exactly three stars. Basically, if you have any authors you like in the story, definitely read it. (Unless you like Joyce Carol Oates. I don't care how much you like her, you will hate her story.) But if not... trust another reviewer. Because I got nothin'.
EDIT: This was the first anthology I've ever read. Since then, I read a couple others, and looking back on this one, it strikes me as badly edited. I say this for two reasons. First, there were tons of instances of bad writing; you might've noticed that my biggest and most constant complaint was underediting (see Channel 99, If You Knew Suzie, Ever After, ect.), and there were tons of premises that were undeveloped and/or blatantly didn't work (A Little Sacrifice, Slam Dance, Erased, ect.). The second reason I say this is that there was no editorial direction. You'd think based on the title that it would be horror. And while some of them were (Saving Face, If You Knew Suzie, Imagining Things), a lot of them felt more like paranormal romance (Shelter Island, Ever After, Haunted). They weren't even all YA - Saving Face, A Little Sacrifice, and Incident Report all felt much more like adult books. And a couple (such as Incident Report and Grandma Kelly) felt more like soft science fiction than fantasy. It was like someone took a bunch of random short stories and threw them together without reading them. A lot of the stories had potential, and with tighter editing, this could've been much, much better.
Read information about the authorLibrarian Note: There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name.
Peter Abrahams is the author of numerous novels, including End of Story, Oblivion, and Lights Out, which was nominated for an Edgar best novel award. He also writes the best-selling Echo Falls series for younger readers. He lives on Cape Cod.
Peter Abrahams is also writing under the pseudonym Spencer Quinn (Chet and Bernie Mysteries).
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