Marianne Halbert’s Cold Comforts is a haunting collection of thirteen short tales. The stories are quite varied; there’s a conscious tree, an old killer folk legend, a haunted workplace and more. These tales range from sort of quirky to hauntingly disturbing. Most of the stories are pretty short, so if you aren’t feeling one, it won’t be long before Halbert changes gears completely. Perhaps the most notable aspect of Halbert’s writing is her ability to completely submerge you in the little worlds she’s created. Despite the fact that most of these stories are less than 10 pages, Halbert’s scenes truly come to life.
Of the thirteen tales in Cold Comforts, I loved 6 of them, liked 6 of them and only one story just wasn’t for me.
My Top Three
When Betsy Whispers- This is a hauntingly beautiful tale about a tree. Yea, you read that right. The entire story is told from the perspective of a tree. I was skeptical at first, but this ended up being one of the most eloquent and striking stories I’ve found in a horror collection. Halbert made a great choice using this as the opening story; it really pulled me in and kept me reading.
A Bone to Pick- After suffering an injury, young Molene Meuller discovers she has an uncanny new ability. I won’t say much more, but the unique ideas and excellent execution made this a definite favorite.
A Used Infinity- A middle-aged man buys a used car, hoping it will help him turn a new leaf. When the GPS starts misbehaving, he ends up going for the ride of his life. I really enjoyed this story, though it was definitely a little on the stranger side.
Other Stories I Loved
Housing the Hollygobs- Two young kids visiting the country discover that there might be more to an old country folktale.
‘Neath Fallow Ground- When a young man returns to his home town after years away, he discovers a dark secret.
Adverse Possession- A man purchased some property that comes with some strange and deadly conditions.
Cold Comforts is a quick but engrossing read. The stories have great range, and there is sure to be something for every reader. Some are light and surreal, while others are gritty and dark; but nothing too extreme. Halbert’s ability to transport the reader into her worlds in such short stories truly keeps you turning the pages. If you’re looking for a diverse collection of unique, creative stories, give Cold Comforts a shot.