Haunting the Dead, edited by Philippe Boulle (White Wolf Publishing, 2003)

This macabre quartet of short stories is based on White Wolf’s Orpheus line of games. Like the name suggests, the stories all touch upon the delicate, occasionally breached barriers between life and death, and the traumas that ensue. The dead have their secrets, and don’t take too well to the living trying to mine those secrets for their own ends. In some regards, it resembles the movie Flatliners, but trust me, it has its own unique twists. From the very beginning of Stefan Petrucha’s “The Grass Is Always Greener,” to the end of Rich Chillot’s “Corridors,” these are not stories for the weak of stomach or the faint of heart. These are the disturbing scrapings of nightmares and horror archetypes. Occasionally graphic (I’ve never seen an entire paragraph devoted to describing a pizza in such unappetizing, horrific terms) and sometimes brutal, Haunting the Dead is not a casual read. It is, however, something that might just appeal to the hardcore horror readers, those who like it visceral and direct. As far as I could tell, no knowledge of the Orpheus game line is needed to get into the mood of the stories. Rather, one can just jump right in to these tales of the restless – and sometimes very upset – dead and the people who dare to disturb them. Don’t read this one late at night.

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