I'm a Bryan Smith fan, Halloween is around the corner (at least on my social media it is; at this end of the world, we could scarcely care less), and I was in the mood for something short after some mammoth reads of late. So The Halloween Bride looked like a very safe bet.
Only this was far from Smith's best work. It's the story of a man grieving for his dead girlfriend who feels compelled to follow a woman dressed in black and an entourage of children one night for no apparent reason. For mine, it's also long on detail and short on surprises, and possessed one of those overly convenient plots where a character's actions are explained away by him knowing something without knowing why. I lost count of the number of times Deacon did something or chose not to do something else because he somehow knew this was the option he was meant to take. It just felt lazy and uninspiring - especially from Smith who usually provides greater depth than you might imagine reading the blurbs on the backs of his books. 2 stars.
Thankfully the bonus short included in the kindle edition, STANDING IN LINE FOR THE DEATH MACHINE, is a far more inventive and engaging effort. Though perhaps providing too much detail in the title, this Smith short contains an intriguing mystery, a very nasty set of tortures, and an unpredictable plot - all of which elevate it to a 4.5 star rating. This is more like the Bryan Smith I know and love to read. And since the less you know about this one, the better it is likely to be, so I'll refrain from describing any of the plot. Just read it.
So, overall, this one is a ...
... 3 Lines Extending Out of Sight for The Halloween Bride.