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2014 Story 240

Yeah, I'm still way behind on posting reviews of stuff I read weeks, if not months, ago (issues of Lightspeed I proofread that I have handwritten notes about, and Ellen Datlow's Nightmare Carnival anthology, for instance) but I just listened to this as I sit here on the night before Halloween, and I figured I should post the review right away for once.

240. CLICK-CLACK THE RATTLEBAG by Neil Gaiman   This year's free Gaiman Halloween give-away on Audible as part of Gaiman's "Give A Scary Book On Halloween" movement is a story I haven't read, although the copyright notes at the end indicate it was written in 2012 ... so it's probably in one of several multi-author anthologies sitting on my shelf that I just haven't read yet.  Any time Gaiman reads his own stuff, I know I'm in for a treat and this was no exception. The first-person narrator is a man in his 20s left to babysit his girlfriend's younger brother. The boy approaches the narrator to ask him to tuck the boy in bed and tell him a scary story because the narrator is a writer of scary stories. As they ascend the stairs in the house, the boy ends up telling the narrator about "The Click-Clacks" and "The Rattlebag."  Gaiman has created some incredibly eerie creatures of the dark here. Eyes closed while listening, the picture the little boy paints filled my head ... and I still feel like I can see them out of the corner of my eye a half-hour later.  Very, very effective Halloween story -- eerie, discomforting, without a touch of gore.

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