McCammon though best known for his novels is a very accomplished writer of short stories, and this collection is evidence of that. From the opening story Yellowjacket Summer you are thrown straight into the nightmarish maelstrom of McCammon's imagination. The yellow jackets in this case are wasps, made dangerous by their connection to a vengeful and psychotic presence in the story. It moves at a dramatic pace, pushing you quickly into the action and pulling you through the events of the story before you have time to draw breath.
If you're considering a rest after this, then forget it, for Makeup pushes you straight into a tale of 50's B-Movie horror, that wouldn't be at all out of place in the Twilight Zone. A story about a thief who steals to order, mistakingly stealing the wrong makeup case and finding his life gradually taken over by it. Doom City is a story with a dark aura that hovers much like the title over the whole of a story, where its protaginist awakes in a bed next to the skeleton of his wife, and finds himself moving through a city where death has firmly laid its hand.
Nightcrawlers is a story seeped in the horrors of Vietnam, where the ghosts of the past impinge brutally on the present day. A sole survivor haunted by those he managed to outlive, fleeing these ghosts as he moves from place to place, unable to sleep for fear of retribution. Following this Pin is probably the strangest of the lot, a short almost surreal piece that draws you intp a man's madness and his quest to find the "inner sun." The strangeness doesn't let up there for Yellachile's Cage, which tells the story of an unusual prison mascot who holds the key to the outside world.
I Scream Man! is a play on words that sits at the centre of a story that slowly shows it true colours and the tragedy at its core as it approaches it close. The next takes you into a town with a unique Halloween ritual, a faustian tale where a town where it's inhabitants have found great fortune, its only cost being the one day a year when He'll Come Knocking at Your Door and the price has to be paid in a currency of his choosing.
Chico is a tale about the casual brutality towards children that so often goes on, where in this case the brutality of a stepfather is directed towards a retarded child with a special hidden talent.
Chapter plays are long gone yet their memory lives on and echoes can even been seen in television serials even to this day, Night Calls the Green Falcon sees the resurrection of an old hero. One who has grown old, still fondly remembering his days as an actor everyone looked up to, before circumstances broke him on the wheel. Now an old man sees a way to bring back his past glories, to pit his frail body against the wit of a brutal killer, and find the identity of this man as only he could. This is an excellent longish story that works as an excellent tribute to these forgotten heroes.
The Red House sees the arrival of a family in a uniform grey suburb whose splash of colour brings a little heat to the community, and anger and dispair to one man in particular. Something Passed By take place in a strange small town whose street names will be strangely familiar to most of the readers of these pages, in a world where the natural laws have been turned upside down and people have become used to the incursions of chaos into their once normal lives.
The final story Blue World is the novel length title story of the collection which could easily have stood on its own. This is a novel about a priest who is drawn into the murky world of pornography and serial killings. The series of serial killings act almost as a backdrop to the story of a priest's ongoing fascination with a pornographic movie star which gradually builds from a mere obsession to a relationship of a completely different kind. It is an utterly compelling work, all to way to its finale, and despite the seedy backdrop it never allows the story to be eclipsed by the subject matter.