Book Review – The Return of the Pumpkins by Lacey Lane

Nearly two years ago, I reviewed Lacey’s first story – The Revenge of the Pumpkins. It was a brutal story of pumpkins slaughtering the people who had carved them for Halloween and was, in a lot of ways, a great horror short story. Like some of the best horror stories, Revenge didn’t bother to explain the antagonists or why they were doing what they were doing. The pumpkins were just flat out evil.

Now, a couple years later we get the follow-on to Revenge and Lacey has taken the story in a different direction. It’s still a good slasher story, but rather than relying on the overt pumpkins with shiny blades and glints of evil in their eyes, we find the sole survivor from the first story locked up in a mental institution after he insisted the pumpkins had carved up his family and set fire to their house.

Needless to say, no one believed him. But they did give him a nice home and a jacket with sleeves that tie in the back. Okay, I’m joking about the jacket, but the kid does spend a decade in an asylum learning to question whether or not sentient, evil pumpkins really did slaughter his family and wondering when they’re going to come back.

In addition to the usual creepiness of a mental institution, we get a lot more character development and an ending that leaves you wondering just where the madness ends and where it starts.

All in all, an excellent short read from an excellent new horror author.


Peter Smith is a patient at West Hills hospital. He has been there for nearly a decade. At the age of thirteen, his parents were brutally murdered and Peter was tortured to near death by his Halloween pumpkins. Killer pumpkins haunt his dreams and his doctor thinks he’s delusional. Determined to turn his life around, he has eventually decided to join in with the Halloween festivities in the hospital and carves his first pumpkin. Will Peter survive the tenth anniversary of his parents’ death? Or will his pumpkin be the death of him?

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So, this is text from the upcoming sequel to Henchmen.  Well, it’s actually the first page or so the new book, which is still very much a work in progress.  The feedback I’ve gotten on the first book was generally good, but a lot of people had questions left after they finished it.  Don’t worry, that was intentional.  I didn’t want to spill all the secrets at once because it would have made for a very tedious read.  That said, the sequel will answer some questions and, knowing me, probably raise more questions.  So, here you go, the first bit of the sequel, which is still in need of a good name, unedited and basically raw.


Where were you when it happened?

This is the current question of the day from almost anyone you meet.  No one needs to ask “when what happened?” because we all know what the asker is talking about.

It’s used as an ice breaker, like asking what someone’s major was or their sign is.  It can be a challenge: Where were you when it happened?  It can also just be a straightforward question, a way to find out about someone.

Most people, it seems, still remember exactly where they were, kind of like a lot of people still remember exactly where they were when they found out Elvis was dead (I was six, riding in a car with my mom and asking who is Elvis?) or when the towers came crashing down.

Your answer gives you a certain amount of street cred.  If you say you were in Albuquerque, people act you’re a returning war hero and ask you if you’re OK.  I actually met someone who was in the building when it all went down and barely escaped before the building collapsed.  He was telling the story to people in some bar in Durango and was getting a lot of mileage, and drinks, out of it.  I had to leave before I laughed out loud when he told everyone how he had the beast cornered and would have been able to stop the whole thing if those damned government agents hadn’t screwed the whole thing up.  If you say you were in D.C., people treat you like a refugee from some genocide in Africa.  If you were in Colorado, you’re less of a hero, but all those southwestern states are, like, right next to each other, right?  If you were in Texas you get to act like you could have stopped the whole thing with your trusty six shooter.  Albuquerque gives you the best props, D.C. is a close second.  You lose more and more props the further away you were from either of those places.  If you say you were in Minneapolis no one gives a rat’s ass.

I was at ground zero, riding up an elevator with a demigoddess on one side and the Dreamer on the other, hoping to hell I didn’t get shot when the doors opened.

Needless to say, I don’t bring this up.

Most people shed nary a tear over the death of everyone in Congress.  Someone went so far, probably someone on 4chan, to put up a picture of everyone in the House dead and dismembered with the caption “You can’t spell slaughter without laughter.”  The idea of killing Congress still brings a smile to a lot of faces, but the actuality of killing Congress still terrifies and enrages.

I still get a chuckle out of it, but I’m kind of a dick that way.