In Bonfitto’s (The Lineman, 2013, etc.) horror collection, Asbury Park, New Jersey, provides the setting for seven strange, spooky stories.
This quirky book amasses a hodgepodge of tales, all delving into the supernatural, but each sporting distinctive styles. It opens with “The Scorekeeper,” which reads like a young-adult story: Teenager Adam and his mother tell everyone that a heart arrhythmia limits his outdoor activities, but it’s really his inability to control his telekinetic power when he’s upset. The decidedly more solemn “Harbinger” follows a man named Lee, who keeps seeing a screaming girl near the train tracks—a girl that apparently no one else can see. In “The Circuit,” a bored family man undergoes a midlife crisis that turns into a terrifying ordeal. “Dead and Breakfast” is a darkly humorous riot: Cousins Patsy and Max and their pal, Christopher, open a Victorian bed-and-breakfast that just may be haunted, and two reality shows compete for a live Halloween broadcast to verify the presence of ghosts. Bonfitto also tackles a number of relevant social issues within these pages: Adam’s paranormal faculty, for example, flares up when he’s victimized by bullies. Most of the stories stay in familiar supernatural territory, but the author effectively puts her own stamp on each one. The collection reaches its summit with “Eminent Domain,” a fantastic yarn in which a “zombie march” of costumed revelers on the Asbury Park boardwalk comes to a halt when cadavers from a macabre art exhibit decide to make actual zombies out of the participants. Bonfitto breathes new life into this story of the undead, and although it’s violent (as the zombies munch on human flesh), it’s much less graphic than similar tales. But although “Eminent Doman” sharply contrasts with the YA style of “The Scorekeeper,” both fit in quite nicely in this eclectic collection.
Short stories for readers who like their horror tales diverting and diverse.