Tales from a Talking Board (Word Horde) is a brilliant collection of 14 short stories by some of today’s greatest authors, centered around the theme of the Ouija board, in its various forms and incarnations, edited by horror author, Ross E. Lockhart. It will officially be available on Oct. 24, just in time for Halloween. It’s an eerie compilation of tales that belongs in the personal libraries and/or Kindles of everyone hwo loves the macabre.

This review of Tales from a Talking Board is based on an ARC I received from Mr. Lockhart, but it is, like all of my reviews, based entirely on what I thought of the quality of the writing. While there was, of course, some of hte short stories I liked better than others, and some that were, in my opinion, better written than others, that’s to be expected with any compilation of any sort. Generally speaking, though, on the whole, I was impressed with the quality of the short stories in Tales from a Talking Board, and if you’re a fan of the genre, as I am, I think that you will also enjoy reading it.

To avoid any spoilers, I will not cover any of the short stories in Tales from a Talking Board thoroughly, but i will let you know what they are about, to whet your interest and give you an idea what the tales are about, other than the general theme of the Ouija board and communicating with Satan and/or the dead.

Tales from a Talking Board opens with the tale, “YesNoGoodbye,” by Kristi DeMeester. The female protagonist, Cassandra, 14, asks her friend to join her in a session with her Ouija board. They both have secrets revealed, including her friend’s romantic interest in Cassandra. Oh, and there’s a horrifying demonic creature outside Cassandra’s window, as well.

Moving on from that terrific start, the second tale in Tales from a Talking Board is “The Devil and the Bugle Boys,” by J.M. McDermott. It’s about competition, the kind between high school bands, and it’s about what happens when questions asked a Ouija board get answers that are hard to bare. Comraderie between male teens and a jokingly-made deal with the Devil, one that the Devil takes seriously, makes this a very intriguing and interesting short story.

The third offering in Tales from a Talking Board is Anya Martin’s “WeeGee WeeGee, Tell Me Do.” One of the reasons I really enjoyed reading this tale is because it explores a bit of the history of the Ouija game, and goes back to the days of Vaudeville, when the great singer, Marie Cahill, helped make a song about using the Ouija board into one of the most popular songs in the United States. It’s also about a women who gets abused by her husband and desperately wants to leave him.

That brings me to the fourth short story in the anthology, a mysterious and fascinating tale with elements of science fiction in it called “When The Evil Days Come Not,” by Nathan Carson. It takes place, for the most part, in a very peculiar orphanage, ran by a quasi-religious man who is reportedly over 130 years old, who does not have the best interests of the children at heart. It’s an odd, unique tale that I loved reading, though it is a disturbing one, in some respects–cool stuff!

The fifth short story in Tales from a Talking Board is “Grief,” by Tiffany Scandal, a great author who has a very eye-catching last name, or pseudonym. Parents grieve over the death of their son, who had cancer, and they want to try contacting his spirit with a Ouija board. They find out it wasn’t necessarily the wisest thing for them to do.

Then, the collection’s sixth tale is a funky gem called “Spin the Throttle,” by David James Keaton. It’s an unusual take on the traditional Ouija game and communicating with the dead, or possibly, with Satan. Many unusual items can be used to learn secrets from the Other World, partiers speeding down a road in the back of a truck, in a hot tub, discover.

Tale number seven in Tales from a Talking Board, the halfway mark in the collection, numerically speaking, is “Pins,” by S.P. Miskowski. In it, a woman, Helen, travels with her friend, Barb, to a psychic, who tells Helen that she must hold pins in her hand. This is, to me, another highlight in the anthology, though it’s about communicating with the dead via a psychic, rather than a medium. Helen thinks the psychic is fake, until…well, you’ll just have to read it to find out what Helen finds out!

The eighth short story in this page-turning anthology is one with one of the coolest titles in the collection, “Deep Into the Skin,” though several other cool titles follow. It is written by Matthew M. Bartlett and is a tale narrated by a first-person character who runs a tattoo parlour called Mikey’s Ink Chamber. Mikey’s old mentor gets murdered in a grisly fashion, and an employee fears that maybe a serial killer is on the loose. Three odd-looking people come into Mikey’s shop, and one locks the door behind him. He tells Mikey he wants him to do a job, in return for his life, in this thrilling tale.

I’ll briefly touch on the last few short stories, which are also great fun to read, especially for fans of the occult and horror stories. Short story number nine in Tales from a Talking Board is one with another very cool title, “Burnt Sugar Stench,” by Wendy N. Wagner. It’s another tale told in the first person, and is about Takas, a 20-year-old clairovoyant who is often “on retainer,” both by the cops and by Russian organized crime figures, like “the Raskolnikovs.” She is given the job of locating the kidnapped heiress to the Raskolnikov fortune….Time traveling and saving the world are parts of this terrific tale.

Numero diez, or ten, in Tales from a Talking Board is yet another tale with a cool and intriguing title, “Worse Than Demons,” by Scott R. Jones. It begins in a rather novel way, as the entire short story is meant to be an interview a reporter from a magazine conducts with a director, Gregory Martens. One of the interesting themes the story explores is if language can be considered to be a “virus.” It’s one of the tales I consider to be a highlight of the anthology.

The eleventh short story in the anthology is another one with an eye-catching title, “The Empress and the Three Swords,” by Amber-Rose Reed. It’s a first-person tale set in London, and in it, an acquaintance of the narrater’s, an actor, takes him to the residence of a woman known as “Gypsy.” It’s a gem of a tale, about the Tarot, a sword given as a gift, and the fate of the Birds, and a future that Gypsy is reluctant to reveal.

“Questions and Answers” by David Templeton is the twelfth short story in Tales from a Talking Board. The characters in this tale, who take a class that’s an introduction to becoming a Spirt Board operator, learn that education continues even in the Afterlife. This short story is another of my faves in the collection, and even includes mention of how Alice Cooper reportedly got his stage name.

The thirteenth short story in the anthology is another one with an intriguing title, “Harpuspicate or Scry,” by Orrin Grey. It’s about a woman attending college and her attachment to a much older professor of Philosophy, who she asks to walk her down the aisle when she gets married. They don’t have a love for each other, but he is influential in her life, and she sometimes spends the night at his house, rather than traveling back to the city she lives with her husband, Gavin.

When the professor dies, the narrator tries to communicate with him through Ouija boards. He gave her a phrase from a poem to memorize, but no matter how hard the narrator tries, she cannot make contact with him…until one day, someone she knows does, through an entirely different way, in this terrific tale.

Finally, the fourteenth tale in Tales from a Talking Board is “May You Live in Interesting Times,” by Nadia Bulkin. In this brilliant short story, a man struggles with his religious beliefs and the desire to contact a dead love interest, and the latter wins out. He throws away his career, and more, trusting in a Ouija board and his dead girlfriend, Alice, more….but, she is not the same, at all.

Fans of horror tales and the macabre will enjoy reading the collection of horror stories that make up Tales from a Talking Board, edited by Ross E. Lockhart. Check it out today, and have pleasant screams! Yeah, it’s a hackneyed phrase, but, oh, well….This a a Must Read for anyone who has every had an interest in the occult or using Ouija boards–get it, or regret it!

Written By: Douglas R. Cobb

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