You won’t find any vampires, werewolves or other traditional monsters in Hirshberg’s horror fiction. You’ll barely even find horror in The Two Sams. What you will find are five stories laden with human sorrow and a palpable atmosphere of dread. These stories are not so much written as they are crafted. You can practically see Hirshberg’s professorial, academic fingerprints on every carefully sculpted line of text. The five stories collected in The Two Sams quietly wrap you in a cloak of uneasiness. “Struwwelpeter” examines the seeds of murder and the tension of father/son relationships. “Shipwreck Beach” follows two cousins; one of whom is suicidal, the other intent on saving him…oh, and along they way they may or may not release a wailing ghost from the hold of an old shipwreck. “Mr. Dark’s Carnival” is an engaging tale that should be required Halloween reading for all horror fiction fans. “Dancing Men” weaves the threads of The Holocaust, the plight of American Indians, and the unbreakable bonds of family into one bizarre tapestry. The best story in this collection is the title piece, about a man confronting the ghosts of his miscarried children. This tale sticks to you like glue, and leaves you feeling as haunted as its narrator. Hirshberg’s quiet tales of terror leave you feeling claustrophobic and chilled to the bone. Is anything more frightening than family?
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