My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Perhaps oddly, I liked the one of the two straight-up non-supernatural stories in this collection the best. The titular “Johnny Halloween” is something I’d expect to run across in a decent noir anthology.
“The Man Who Killed Halloween” was well-done; it didn’t fit with what I was expecting from the book (non-fiction!), but it’s a decent and evocative piece. Together with Partridge’s introduction, it provides a thoughtful basis for the contrast between Ricks and the October Boy.
Actually, now that I’m thinking about it, this may be why “Three Doors” and “Treats” (which I’ve read before, along with “Black Leather Kites”) didn’t stand out for me quite as much, although they’re both good stories and would normally be the kind of thing I’d expect to be my favourites. The trio of Hallowe’en/Jack o’Lantern-titled pieces echo each other on the question of masks, and real monsters, and the deceit that lets the latter go unpunished, and their supporting each other makes them stand out above the rest.
(Please pardon the fact that this is both terse and a bit shaky; I’m trying to practice writing reviews, and I clearly need to practice writing reviews.)