Book Review: The Crimson Pact: Volume Two – Paul Genesse (Ed.)

Crimson Pact II
About The Crimson Pact: Volume Two (2011)
Crimson Pact IIThe Pact is back and demons are as devious as ever in The Crimson Pact Volume 2.

Read 28 original stories (over 500 pages in print!), including many sequels to stories in volume one. Suzzanne Myers’s powerful flash fiction piece, “Withered Tree” continues with the exceptional short story, “Seven Dogs.” Chanté McCoy’s “Inside Monastic Walls” is followed by the literally gut-wrenching follow-up short story, “Body and Soul.” Urban fantasy mayhem is off the charts with rising star Patrick Tomlinson’s “Monsters in the Closet” and D. Robert Hamm’s “Karma.” Steampunk your thing? EA Younker’s steampunk apocalypse tale “Stand,” Sarah Hans’ sequel about professor Campion, “A More Ideal Vessel,” and Elaine Blose’s steampunk Western “Wayward Brother” will whet your appetite.

The dark fantasy and adventure continues in “Dark Archive,” Sarah Kanning writes how Danielle from “Hidden Collection” must deal with the lingering effects of being possessed by a demon. Volume two mixes sequels from Gloria Weber, Justin Swapp, and Isaac Bell with new stories from Lester Smith, K.E. McGee, Adam Israel, Valerie Dircks, T.S. Rhodes, Elizabeth Shack, Daniel Alonso, and Nayad Monroe.

New York Times Bestselling author and Campbell award nominee Larry Correia presents an exclusive short story, “Son of Fire, Son of Thunder” co-authored by Steven Diamond, about an FBI paranormal investigator and a bad ass marine who knows the exact moment of his own death. Travel to the alternate history Earth of the “Red Bandanna Boys” by Patrick M. Tracy and find out how ruthless you have to be to survive the slums of St. Nikolayev. Follow “The Trail of Blood” by Alex Haig, a horrifying Western about a bounty hunter who wants vengeance, not money. Hunt for Nazis in a disturbing 1950’s America in “Hunters Incorporated” by Kelly Swails. Patrol the steaming jungles of Vietnam with a squad of soldiers in Lon Prater’s “Last Rites in the Big Green Empty.” Then enter the mind of a godlike demon in Donald J. Bingle’s ambitions tale, “Dark Garden,” or visit the creepy shadow world created by Richard Lee Byers in “Light and Dark.”

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Review: The Crimson Pact: Volume Two

Although not every story appealed to me in the first volume of The Crimson Pact, I felt it was a good collection overall with plenty of variety. Volume Two promised more of the same but this time with the added bonus of sequels to some of the stories from the first volume.

Just to recap, The Crimson Pact compilations are inspired by the story The Failed Crusade where a battle between good and evil sees demons seemingly wiped off the face of the earth only for revelations to come forward that they have escaped into other worlds. The Crimson Pact is bound by duty to hunt down and destroy the demons wherever they encounter them. It was down to the writers that have contributed here to come up with their own takes on the theme.

As before, the stories take place in a variety of different periods and locations. I felt there was more of a futuristic feel to many of the stories while the first volume had some stories with something of a medieval feel to them. Some of the sequels work better than others but the ones that followed from some of my favourite stories in volume one were most welcome. There are new voices here too of course with a range of battles against demons, demon possession, bots and even a little romance amidst the carnage though not for long as the demons are always itching for a fight.

My favourite stories in Volume Two were The Long Run; Cats, Caves and Dynamite; Karma; The Merging; Trail of Blood; Red Bandana Boys, and Seven Dogs. The best of the bunch was probably Red Bandana Boys with young teenagers fighting one particularly nasty demon in a seemingly post-apocalyptic world where America has been wiped out and the story’s setting is in Africa. The setting was well conveyed in this particular story and the tragedy of the Red Bandana Boys and the fragility of life was the most memorable. It was one of the longest stories in the book, but probably the best.

There are 28 stories in all and plenty here to keep you busy. As with the previous book, Volume Two has such a variety of stories that not all of them will appeal to readers. There were some stories I enjoyed more than others but if you’re a big fan of tales of demons and the battle between good and evil then there should be plenty to discover and enjoy here.

The Crimson Pact: Volume Two is narrowly inferior to its predecessor but there are still an assortment of good stories here with the slums of Red Bandana Boys being the most vivid for me. If you enjoy short story collections then this second volume should keep you busy for a while.

Verdict: 3/5

(Book source: reviewer received a copy in exchange for a fair and honest review)

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Dave Brown

I was born in Barnsley, South Yorkshire, England and have always been a bookworm and enjoyed creative writing at school. In 1999 I created the Elencheran Chronicles and have been writing ever since. My first novel, Fezariu's Epiphany, was published in May 2011. When not writing I'm a lover of films, games, books and blogging. I live in Barnsley, with my wife, Donna, and our six cats - Kain, Razz, Buggles, Charlie, Bilbo and Frodo.
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