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The Monster Librarian Presents:

Reviews of Horror Anthologies and Collected Works 


Sometimes some of the best horror writing can be found in anthologies and collections of short stories.  Anthologies or collected works that have a common theme such as zombies, vampires, or werewolves will be found under those specific horror fiction sections.  The works reviewed here tend to be collections of stories that touch upon a variety of themes and don't neatly fit under any other categories.


Never Bet the Devil & Other Warnings by Orrin Grey*New Review

Evileye Books, 2012


Available: Paperback


         Never Bet the Devil & Other Warnings is a collection of ten disturbing dreams from veteran author Orrin Grey’s collection; familiar subconscious trouble spots that grip you in dry-mouthed anxiety. Grey is smooth-talking and masterful, the creepy funhouse host who preys on your anticipated dread and smiles at your sweaty palms.


        Grey’s voice is consistent and resonant. His stories use familiar gothic themes such as monsters, demonology, and ghosts. But he adds a crucial element; he makes it personal. Though the stories are brief and self-contained, they access childhood fears, awakening seemingly conquered phobias. One of the greatest achievements of Grey’s own work is its subtlety. Much of horror is ruined by writers who rush headlong into irrational terror, whose characters obviously don’t take a moment to consider before they head straight to the boiler room or the attic. Grey’s characters are thinking people whose curiosity leads them to actions that make sense. They do what they feel they have to do. They could easily be you or me.


        Short stories don’t always satisfy me the way these did. Never Bet the Devil is perfect for readers who wish Ray Bradbury would have married H.P. Lovecraft and given birth to Stephen King. Gore is fine, but a good tour through a haunted house is a lot more fun. The author says in his afterword: “When I write a story, I’m far less interested in conveying fear and more interested in wonder, numinosity, and that ‘infinite strangeness.’” He succeeds with this volume: he has created a wonderful, strange, personal collection of tales you’ll want to keep. Highly recommended for tweens, teens, and adults.


Contains: mild violence and gore.


Reviewed by Sheila Shedd



Four Elements by Charlee Jacob, Marge Simon, Rain Graves and Linda Addison*New Review

2013 Bad Moon Books/Evil Jester Press

Available: New paperback, Kindle edition

ISBN-13: N/A


        Four Elements is a collection of poetry and short fiction by four women of horror who are all Bram Stoker Award winning poets. Each writer takes on one of the four elements of nature—earth, air, fire and water—and brings their own vision to each.


        “Earth” by Marge Simon contains poems and stories that all deal with various consequences of people’s actions including war, desolation, destruction and death, including “A Time For Planting” about the consequences of love and lust and “Quake” about how short our time can be.

“Water” by Rain Graves which includes many pieces dealing with destruction through mythology, including a series of six poems, which I loved, titled “Hades and Its Five” that encompasses all of the myths of Hades, the river Styx and the ferryman.


        “Fire” by Charlee Jacob that includes works dealing with death and destruction.  My favorite here is “Accidental Tourists” about a couple of voyeurs who find love at the scene of a horrific car accident and their many names for the color red—the color of life and death.  There is also a series of ten poems called “Reaching Back to Eden” that involve the consequences of the actions of Adam, Eve, Lilith and Satan.


        “Air” by Linda Addison contains poems about the power of the wind to shape life and our environment as well as describing the soul as air versus the body.  “Lost in Translation” is one of my favorites here, about air as a hidden, living being.  “Upon First Seeing Ongtupqa” is a beautiful description about air moving through canyons, wearing away the earth and exposing millennia of past life.


        All of the prose and poetry is dark, beautiful and vivid in its imagery. There is emotion behind the words that will draw a visceral response from the reader. All of the poetry by these four amazing women is so powerful you will find yourself reading Four Elements again and again.  I have already read through it twice.  If you are a fan of dark poetry then Four Elements is for you. Highly recommended.


Reviewed by Colleen Wanglund




Shivers VII edited by Richard Chizmar

Cemetery Dance, 2013

ISBN-13: 978-1587672255

Available: Trade paperback, limited edition hardback. 



        It's tough to find an anthology that one can count on to be consistently solid from start to finish these days. Even back in the heyday of horror, most high-profile efforts contained the stories from King, Barker, and the A-listers, but too many times, filler and cast-off trunk tales fattened what existed between the covers.  Now, with the resurgence of horror, mostly in the smaller presses, these anthologies are cropping up all over the place.


        Cemetery Dance, the leader of the small press world, established the Shivers series in 2002, and with each successive edition, has carried on what has become a strong tradition of melding strong stories from name brand authors with fine new voices, and helping stalwarts find wider audiences.


        Eleven years later, with Shivers VII, this remains an excellent series.  Stephen King and Clive Barker still headline the book, but solid names and stories back up the big names throughout.   While Clive and Barker offer previously published works, they have been out of print of many years. King's "Weeds" was originally published in 1976, has not been reprinted since 1979, although it was turned into the unforgettable "The Lonesome Death of Jordy Verrill" in the film Creepshow (the one where King himself starred), while Barker’s “The Departed”, was originally published in the New York Times as “Hermione and the Moon” in 1992.


        Also within the covers are stories by Graham Masterton, Ed Gorman, Lisa Tuttle, and Norman Partridge,  but Shivers has never been about the names—it’s been about the stories. It is the inclusion of the lesser known names that provide the most memorable entries. Rio Youers is a fast rising star who shines brightly here, along with Travis Heerman, Kaaron Warren, and Greg Gifune.

Most notable, and touching, is the selection by Rick Hautala, one of the genre's diamonds in the rough that too many overlooked, but was Maine's "other" star.  His passing earlier this year hit the reading world hard but gems like "GPS" will keep him alive in the hearts of his fans for years to come.


        Cemetery Dance knows quality and always has. They have found and polished talent like no other press has done since the 1990s. Shivers VII continues that steady output of quality and will not disappoint anyone who is a fan of short fiction.


Reviewed by David Simms




House of Fear edited by Jonathan Oliver
Solaris, 2011
ISBN-13: 978-1-907992-06-3
Available: New, UK paperback edition


House of Fear is an anthology of haunted house short stories, edited by Jonathan Oliver and featuring stories by writers such as Adam Nevill, Sarah Pinborough and Christopher Priest. I picked those three names at random, as the collection’s contents page is an impressive list of well-established UK horror writers (and a couple of American cousins), with a small number of new voices being introduced alongside. The theme that organizes House of Fear is the haunted house. Each of the nineteen stories features a ‘house’ of some description (though ‘home’ is probably a more accurate term), and each one presents a ‘haunting’ of sorts. There are a fair few ghosts within the pages.


The editor has done a fantastic job in putting the collection together – in terms of both selection and organization– and Oliver’s introductions to each story are complimentary without being cloying. There is a consistently high standard of writing; Adam Nevill’s “Florrie” and Jonathan Green’s “The Doll’s House” were particular favourites of mine, though Rebecca Levene’s “The Windmill” and Christopher Fowler’s “An Injustice” were also excellent. The book as a whole is one of the strongest horror short story collections I have read in some time. Highly recommended.


Contains: some sexual content, violence, references to death and the afterlife


Reviewed by: Hannah Kate



Bio-Punk: Stories from the Far Side of Research edited by Ra Page*New Review
Comma Press, 2012
ISBN-13: 978-1905583409
Available: New UK Paperback



        Bio-Punk is a new collection of short stories from Manchester-based publisher Comma Press. It is edited by Ra Page, and includes short stories from fourteen writers. The premise of the book is a response to current biological research (and the naming of the twenty-first century as ‘the century of biology’), and the writers have each taken a particular aspect of scientific research as the starting point for their stories. As expected, with this underlying premise, many of the stories are best described as science fiction, though some incorporate elements of horror and other genres. But there’s a twist… each of the writers has collaborated with a research scientist in the creation of their tales, and each scientist has written an afterword outlining the ‘reality’ and the potential future of the research explored in the fiction.


        The premise of the book is fantastic. The blurb claims that this is “a unique collaboration”, and I think that’s a fair assessment. The focus on biology-- rather than current work in chemistry or physics-- means that the stories invariably focus on the human, and on the implications of cutting-edge research for the ordinary individual. The stories themselves are a mixed bag, and some of them seemed a little weak. In these cases, the afterword simply highlighted the implausibility of the fiction. However, the best stories in the book are excellent: a high spot is Toby Litt’s short piece, which works beautifully with Nihil Engin Vrana’s afterword. For readers keen to learn more about the cutting-edge science that shapes science fiction, this is a must-read. There are few other collections that offer such an interesting dialogue.


Reviewed by Hannah Kate


Death Poems by Thomas Ligotti*New Review

Bad Moon Books, 2013
ISBN-13: 978-0988447899

Available: Hardcover, Paperback, Kindle

        If you're interested in a morbid glimpse behind the final curtain, look no further than Thomas Ligotti's collection, Death Poems. Often cynical, and downright flippant, Thomas Ligotti, celebrated master of the genre, reveals his erudite dissection of faux sentimentality and reverence. Ligotti, best known for horrific prose, is equally adept as a poet. His poems are unmistakably bleak and despondent, even when a lighter touch is expressed. He cultivates an enduring sense of rhythm, thoughtful but relaxed, and within lies the weight of his observations. This collection raises interesting questions — not by romanticizing death, but by showing no great affection for its opposite condition. Certainly a must-have for Ligotti fans, Death Poems will be equally at home on the shelves of those with a more general interest in verse.

Review by Bob Freeman


Times of Trouble edited by Lane Adamson*New Review

Permuted Press, 2013


Available:  eBook(Kindle, Apple iPad/iBooks, Nook, Sony Reader, Kobo, and most e-reading apps including Stanza, Aldiko, Adobe Digital Editions, others )

     Times of Trouble is a collection of 22 short stories that explore the ultimate “Do – Over,” time travel.  Each author was tasked with taking a second chance to “get it right”, but with a delicious twist;  the  attempt actually makes a bad situation worse.  Each story starts fresh, and the result is a splendid variety of topics.  Some of them expected others, not so much.  The time travel tales include: Dinosaur Hunting, Tourism, The Civil War, Overlords, Missing Persons, The Butterfly Effect, Raising Children, Paradox, Detectives, Cartoons, Archeology, Revenge, Robots, and Zombies.  How these stories mix together is a fun read that makes you wonder what would you do with just one more chance to “Get It Right?”

      I loved this collection.  While some of the stories weren't the type of thing I would normally read they were all thought provoking and highly imaginative.  The tales were well written with each of the authors doing a great job twisting the second chance down a darker path.  The settings were established excellently and the characters had distinctive voices.  The descriptions were laid in nicely leaving me with an excellent sense of place and time.  My favorite stories were Matthew Baugh's “Rabid Season”, a mixture of time travel and 1970's cartoons, and  Jeff Drake's “Little Girl Lost”, with its creepy Lovecraftian nod toward time travel and missing persons.  The only criticism I have is that a few typographical errors sneaked in.  Ironically, the most poorly edited was the tale “A Hatful of Yesterday”, written by the editor, Lane Adamson: a good argument to have someone else edit your work.  That being said, I enjoyed the concept and looked forward to reading each story.  It was a fun read!  If you like time travel then this is well worth reading.  I have not read any of these authors' works before.  Highly recommended for adult readers.


Contains:  Swearing, Homosexuality, Sexual Situations, Gore


Reviewed by Aaron Fletcher



Holes for Faces by Ramsey Campbell*New Review

Dark Regions Press, 2013

ISBN-13: 978-1937128449

Available: Paperback (as of 8/13/2013)



        Ramsey Campbell is, in a word, brilliant. Each and every story is a master class in how to write thoughtful, literary fiction within the horror genre. His command of the form, through a complete understanding of pacing and atmosphere sets him apart from most every  author who sits down before a keyboard and attempts to do the same.


        The characters you find in this collection are all very real, vividly imagined and put on display. Campbell puts you inside their head with ease and you feel the weight of each situation as they play out slowly. The author’s many strengths come to the fore, and these are chops well earned. These are stories that are claustrophobic and menacing, but grounded in a realism that allows the terror to germinate and take root. They creep up on you, slowly and methodically, inviting you in to deeper and deeper shadow until you’re swallowed whole by the surreal madness that lies there in the bleak and all-consuming darkness.


        These stories, and the characters that populate them, will stay with you long after you’ve set the work aside. Trust me on that. Days later, I’m still mulling over Marsden’s fate in “Passing Through Peacehaven”. When I pass through our game room and eye my son Connor’s old Snakes & Ladders game, I swear, somewhere in the house, someone is whispering “peep”.


Campbell’s prose is both vivid and lyrical, filled with suspense and dark beauty. Take this passage, for instance:


“She saw their shriveled eyes glimmer eagerly and their toothless mouths gape with an identical infantile hunger. Their combined weight bowed the lowest branches while they extended arms like withered sticks to snatch the child.”


Holes for Faces is a must-read for Ramsey Campbell fans, collecting his best stories from this fledgling century we find ourselves in. If you’ve not been introduced to Mr. Campbell yet, then I can think of no better place to start. Highly recommended.


Reviewed by Bob Freeman


We have a take two review below from Drake Morgan.


        Ramsey Campbell is a powerhouse name in horror and in his latest, Holes for Faces, he offers up a collection of short stories. For those not familiar with Campbell’s work this is a great introduction. For those already well-versed, it might feel a bit too familiar.


        If that sounds contradictory, it is. Campbell’s style is classic English Gothic, heavy on the atmosphere, tone, and suspense rather than the gore and bloodshed. In the long British tradition, he takes the mundane events of life and gives them a most sinister twist. The fear is subtle and sublime; creeping up on you and catching you unaware. For old and new readers alike, he lures you into the shadows quite wonderfully. The difficulty for those familiar with his work is characterization and theme. The stories here have a common thread that when read all together can feel too close to his other work.


    Campbell is still a stellar, much needed voice in horror. The vague sense of unease that grows into sheer terror is a welcome change from splatter and gore; there is always the question of where reality has ended and madness has begun.  Standout stories include “Peeps”, which takes us on a macabre trip through surreal madness, and “Getting It Wrong”, which explores the nightmares of aging and that subtle shift into the unreal world of possible senility as we lose the connections with the modern world. The title story, “Holes for Faces,” is a tale of sliding realities in which our protagonist sees a very different world around him, becoming aware of horrors that no one else can see. These stories reflect Campbell’s ability to take “normal” and tilt it just far enough to create fear.  He reminds the reader that “this could happen to you”, the greatest fear of all. This would fit perfectly in an adult library. Recommended.


Contains: some violence


Reviewed by Drake Morgan


Exotic Gothic 4: Postscripts 28/29 edited by Danel Olsen*New Review

PS Publishing, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-848633-33-9

Available: Paperback


        In the introduction to Exotic Gothic 4, the editor, Danel Olson, describes Gothic fiction as “that genre of things wrongly hungered for and things wrongly alive.” This is an apt description for the tales enclosed here. The themes here represent the Gothic tradition as it was meant to be, but updated and fresh for modern readers.


        The unique element to this collection is its diversity. The stories here are often set in places of the world we either least associate with “gothic” or fail to even consider in the genre. While the windswept heaths of Northern England raise the hairs on the back of our necks, Olsen reminds us that fear lurks in every shadow of every culture. Themes of cultural oppression, the evil claws of colonialism (still deeply embedded in the back of certain nations), feminine sacrifice to ancient traditions with hidden shackles, and other literary facets pepper the tales and elevate them beyond mere horror stories. In “Blooding the Bride”, by Margo Lanagan, for example, we meet newlyweds on their wedding night. But the bride awakes to discover she is in a nightmarish world populated by dead brides and poison. To give away the end a bit, she awakes from this dream to find all is well. But is it? What poison remains in Loriane’s soul toward her marriage? Lanagan presents a strong feminist subtext on the nature of the marriage rite as an oppressive trap for women, even in our modern, post-feminist movement time. Hers is but one example of how the authors here are not afraid to step out of genre and into literature in order to create a more compelling story.


        The authors here clearly understand the Gothic literary tradition, and Olsen has assembled a powerhouse of new masters. Deftly weaving the haunting siren songs of the Gothic tradition (pain, madness, illusions, fear) within a modern framework, this collection lures you in from start to finish. This collection would fit well in an adult literary fiction section. Highly recommended.


Contains: scenes of violence, strong language, sexual references


Reviewed by Drake Morgan



Dark Roads: Selected Long Poems 1971-2012 by Bruce Boston, illustrated by M. Wayne Miller

Dark Renaissance Books, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-937128-90-6

Available: Paperback, Kindle edition


Dark Roads is a collection of poetry spanning Bruce Boston’s long and illustrious writing career. Previously published, many of the poems appeared in magazines and limited-edition publications that have long been unavailable.  They have been gathered in one collection here, giving readers an amazing peek into the depth and power of Boston’s writing.


The collection opens with “The Tiger Does Not Know.” First published in 1971, it’s a haunting work exploring the journey of the soul. A man is seeking answers in dreams, metaphors, and images, but there are none to be found. The man keeps seeking, but his search is in vain. The closing line, “The tiger does not know that it is tiger named” is a powerful statement on the futility of Man to define, trap, and confine dreams.


Boston often uses nature as a metaphor for the darkness within the human species. “Three Evocations of the Mutant Rain Forest”, from 1989, is a disturbing foreshadowing to the nightmare of climate change we now face. Boston parallels the decay of nature to the decay of the human soul, thus creating a terrifying dual descent into darkness.


Boston’s work is fierce, ferocious, haunting, poignant, and emotive. Hope, despair, anger, and fear are there, often all contained within the same line. In one moment he can make you soar, and the next, tear the wind from your wings in agony. It’s what poetry is meant to be. Highly recommended.


Reviewed by:  Drake Morgan



Dark Duets by Linda Addison and Stephen M. Wilson, Illustrated by Jill Bauman

CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform; 1 edition, 2013
ISBN-13: 978-1481902649

Available: Paperback and e-book


        In the introduction to Dark Duets, we are reminded that a duet is not only two in accompaniment, but also a conflict “engaged in an attempt to resolve itself through harmony.” The poems in this collection reflect this definition far better than the common perception. The works here are menacing, mesmerizing, challenging, and difficult. In other words, exactly what poetry was meant to be.

        Addison and Wilson work well in conflict. Each line is a challenge to the next. A dare. A temptation. Even the structure of many of the poems reflects a fractured world full of more questions than answers. Using the modernist approach to poetry in both lyrical structure and form, Addison and Wilson have created a work of dark wonder. Heavily illustrated, the images draw forth elements from the poems without giving away their secrets; complements to the work, but not solutions to the dark shadows.

        Dark Duets is that rare breed of modern poetry that taps into the Gothic spirit of Byron, Shelley, and their ilk, yet sits firmly in the driver’s seat of modernism: a rare and accomplished achievement. This collection would sit nicely in any adult poetry section, including a modernist section. Highly recommended

Contains: Not Applicable

Reviewed by Drake Morgan



Notes from the Shadow City by Gary William Crawford and Bruce Boston *New Review

Dark Regions Press; First edition, 2012
ISBN-13: 978-1937128401



Modern poetry is a very challenging animal. In the post-modernist wake, form, style, and function have been tossed to the wind in favor of a less structured approach. At times this can feel a bit like anarchy. 


Modern genre poetry is even more difficult as it fuses the elements of genre onto this chaotic new world. When Notes from the Shadow City came across my desk, I paused. A poetry collection from two different poets telling a story? 


But as I read, the light of understanding went on. Crawford and Boston took on a daunting task. They had a story to tell. Shadow City is a place, both real and unreal. It’s a mysterious world of sinister monks, secret police, evil experiments, and dark souls. This could have been a novel, but the poetic form allows for a subtle exploration that captivates the reader in a way a novel cannot. Poetry is about a single line or a single word used to convey a thousand thoughts. There is no narrative explanation or dialogue to define a character’s motivations. Crawford and Boston build a world on a tightrope of words and we believe. “Creatures of a hive mind” tell us more than a chapter of narrative about this dark place. It’s a place where “where songs are sung/ with the tuneless solidity/ of ancient cantos” and we hear those songs just beyond our own reality. 


As a fan of the Gothic poets, modern poetry and I have not often found a comfortable place. Genre poetry has been even less satisfying as far too much of it falls into the descriptive rather than the imaginative. Notes from the Shadow City defies convention and sweeps the reader into its monstrous, haunting, lyrical bowels. A perfect addition to any adult, modern poetry library section. Highly recommended. 


Contains: occasional references to violence 


Reviewed by Drake Morgan 






Horror For Good - A Charitable Anthology: Volume 1

Cutting Block Press; Volume 1 edition, 2012


Available: Kindle


What draws the authors of the stories in this anthology together is the opportunity to raise money for amFAR, an AIDS research foundation.


This anthology, assembled by the team at Cutting Block Press, publishers of the Horror Library series, should be an eye-opener. Horror writers are a tightly knit group, generally willing to face their demons and those of society head on--without shields or filters.


Rocky Wood opens the effort with an introduction sure to elicit a tear to anyone who has ever met the man. The president of the Horror Writers' Association has done a world of good for the organization and has befriended many with just a handshake and a hello; he is truly the heart of a genre. Knowing his fight with ALS makes his words even more poignant but his personality and devotion to people and many causes have remained constant from the first time this reviewer met him years ago.


Mark C. Scioneaux of Cutting Block Press follows that with his personal story of losing his uncle to AIDS, the target of this anthology.  Robert Shane Wilson and R.J. Cavender round out the team of Cutting Block Press, and cement this book as a labor of love.


The cause is paramount, but the stories run a close second here.  With many high profile writers involved, a good number of entries are reprints. These include tales by F. Paul Wilson, Joe Lansdale, Ramsey Campbell, Ray Garton, Laird Barron, Jack Ketchum, Jeff Strand, Joe McKinney, Tracie McBride, Gary McMahon, and G.N. Braun. However, their contributions are not simple retreads or throwaways--they're solid, and in spite of being published previously, they are tough to find--not one was familiar to me.


Brand new, original stories also abound here, and very few disappoint. The highlights include frightening--and often touching--entries by Monica J' O Rourke, Wrath James White, Brad C. Hodson, and Shaun Hutson. There is something here for , and for many subgenres of horror, something readers don't often find in anthologies.


Cutting Block Press and the authors within should be proud of this book, for both its purpose and the finished product of strong, quality work. Recommended for all the right reasons.


Note: ALL revenue (sans production costs) goes to amfAR, the foundation for AIDS research. Thank you to the editors and authors who have donated their time and creativity for a great cause.


Reviewed by: Dave Simms



The Beautiful Thing That Awaits Us All by Laird Barron*New Review

Night Shade, 2013

ISBN-13: 978-1597804677

Available: Hardback (I believe its coming out in all versions soon)


Laird Barron is one of the godfathers of modern horror. His work is quite outside what I've come to tag as "horror" in recent years. Instead of violent, bloody, and gore-soaked writing, words like “dark”, “haunting”, and “mysterious” consistently come up in reviews and praise of his work. .


This is a collection of previously published stories from the last three years. Short stories are an excellent introduction to any author and his latest collection, The Beautiful Thing That Awaits Us All, is a must-read for new and seasoned fans alike. Several come from Lovecraft-themed anthologies, and others are more broad-based horror offerings. They are diverse and do indeed provide an excellent introduction to Barron’s work if one is not familiar with him. As many of these stories are from specialized anthologies, seasoned fans may likely have missed one or two along the way as well.


Barron's writing style is outside of what I see as mainstream horror, and I for one really appreciate that. It's subtle, and gently guides the reader into dark, eerie places. His characters are well-defined, distinct, and drawn in sharp lines. I found myself loving, hating, sympathizing with, or raging against them throughout the stories. The story "The Redfield Girls" serves as a perfect example. We have a wonderful cast of characters and a fantastic set up. A group of women make an annual road trip to a remote location in the Pacific Northwest. They drink some wine, relax, and recharge their batteries for the coming year. This year however, one of their party insists on a specific location.  Thus begins a mounting feeling of something dark and ominous. Barron delivers in tone and atmosphere, and we sit tense through mysterious phone calls, missing vehicles, and missing persons.


Barron’s horror skillfully weaves haunting tales by taking the normal and giving it that macabre twist. Writers like Henry James and Sheridan Le Fanu were famous for it during the heyday of Gothic literature in the 1800s. Modern writers seem to have lost that flair for the macabre as they fall back on gore, bloodshed, and violence. Barron is far and away a cut above the rest—pun intended. This novel would work well in any adult horror or dark fiction collection of a general library. Recommended


Contains: violence, sexual references


Reviewed by: Drake Morgan




Monk Punk edited by A.J. French*New Review
Pill Hill Press, 2011
ISBN-13: 978-1617061165
Available: New


There are 23 short stories in Monk Punk, mostly by emerging writers (some are first publications). Story settings range from the UK to the Himalayas, from Asia to Outer Space. The stories take place in a variety of time periods, from the Middle Ages to the distant future. Unfortunately, while I enjoyed some stories that were, to an extent, fresh and original, the collection itself is a bit of a let-down. It certainly didn’t live up to the high promises of D. Harlan Wilson’s introduction. Broadly speaking, the collection is divided on Eastern/Western lines. On the one hand, we have Buddhist(-like) monks, who usually live alone, in contemplative spiritualism, but who display deadly martial arts skills when called upon. On the other, we have Christian(-esque) monks, who form cultish, cloistered brotherhoods, prone to ritualistic behaviour, conspiracy and (on occasion) sacrifice. The problem with Monk Punk in general is that it rarely moves beyond this, and the stories begin to feel a little same-y. I had some trouble differentiating the solitary-Eastern-monk-with-badass-fighting-skills stories (of which there are six), as they trod very similar ground. Similarly, the cultish Western monks – who variously worship fish deities, refuse to let recruits leave their circle, sacrifice children, carry out violent initiation ceremonies and conjure/fight demons – are repetitive. Unfortunately, the only story that attempted to focus on a religion other than Buddhism or Christianity – the story of a colonial explorer who meets a Sufi guru – was marred by racist and misogynist caricature, which made it rather unpalatable.


There are some stories in the collection that have tried to do justice to the fascinating theme, particularly R.B. Payne’s, Mark Iles’s and George Ivanoff’s. Overall, though, the collection lacked the originality and energy promised by both the title and the introduction.


Contains: violence, sex, swearing, references to religion


Reviewed by: Hannah Kate



Magic: An Anthology of the Esoteric and Arcane by Jonathan Oliver*New Review

Solaris; Original edition, 2012
ISBN-13: 978-1781080542

Available: New and used


      What a refreshing anthology this is! In a deviation from the usual blood and gore of traditional horror, these short stories focus on the unpredictability of magic and how consequences can truly be horrific when one delves into the supernatural. The authors include such notables as Dan Abnett, Christopher Fowler, and Will Hill.


      All of the stories in this collection are worth the reader’s time, but I shall mention a couple of my favorites. “First and Last and Always” by Thana Niveau is about a college student whose obsession with a local singer compels her to cast a love spell. The medium she uses to bind him to her—her hair—ends the story with unexpected results.


      Another delightful read is Lou Morgan’s “Bottom Line,” which tells the story of Donnie Taylor, a magician that uses conjures of deception and distraction for a gangster named Rudge. Taylor lands in prison, where he “dries out” from using magic, but once he’s out, old friends show up at his door to pull him back into the criminal underworld. Ms. Morgan seems to be a relative newcomer to the formal publishing world, but her talent is already quite evident.


      Jonathan Oliver did a wonderful job of choosing and editing the stories for this anthology. I highly recommend this collection for readers that want something a little different and librarians looking for good read-aloud material.


Contains: some gore, some violence, supernatural references


Reviewed by: W.E. Zazo-Phillips




Stories and Poems of a Twisted Kind by Shane C. Mess

Self-published, 2012

ISBN: 978-0615635217

Available: New paperback

Stories and Poems of a Twisted Kind is a nice little collection of poems and stories with a bit of a Gothic feel. 


“The Spider’s Web” is a creepy poem about a girl that gets her comeuppance after killing a web full of baby spiders.  Let’s just say momma wasn’t happy.  “Delicious Meat Soup” is a very dark tale about a man who decides to get some revenge on his decidedly hard-to-please employer, while giving the employer’s friends a taste of his soup, as well.  “Man’s Best Friend” is a story that I will admit, freaked me out.  An old man isn’t happy about being disturbed by a dog who just wants to play fetch, but the old man doesn’t want to play—and the dog isn’t very happy about that.  Some of the other poems, such as “Eyeball Stew” and “My Shrunken Heads”, have an almost childlike quality, but are just as creepy as any of the others. He has also given a sweet little nod to the old Tales from the Crypt series.


Overall, Stories and Poems of a Twisted Kind  is just that—twisted.  The book is a fun read for both teen and adult horror fans.  The book is well-written and the layout of stories and poems works nicely.  All in all, a very good read. Recommended


Suitable for older young adult readers.


Reviewed by: Colleen Wanglund


A Big Book of Strange, Weird, and Wonderful, Volume II, edited by D.L. Russell and Sharon Black*New Review

Strange, Weird and Wonderful Publishing, 2012

ISBN: 978-1479188222; ASIN B00ALGJ6K8

Available: New paperback and Kindle e-book


A Big Book of Strange, Weird, and Wonderful, Volume II, is chock-full of the best horror, fantasy and science fiction short stories published in Strange, Weird, and Wonderful Magazine.


Among my favorite stories are “The Interim Weaver” by Paul Breaux ,about a special weaver of bonds needed on the annual day of execution, who has the power to hold the most dangerous prisoners—in this case The Mark; “The Bus Stop” by Jeani Rector, about a murderer at a creepy bus station in the middle of nowhere on Halloween night; “The Dying Time” by Sabrina West , about a settlement on a faraway world where the children are “buried” for the summer, and what happens when two of those children escape the burial and discover the truth; and “Inheritance for Dummies” by R.A. Keenan, about a strange inheritance involving witchcraft and ventriloquist dummies. This one thoroughly creeped me out as I have a fear of ventriloquist dummies (even more than clowns!).


Other notable stories include “A Test of Fate”, about a mandatory blood test that predicts how a person will die; “A Few Minutes of Euphoria for Miss Mattibelle” by M. Francis Patterson, about a woman who loves to attend funerals for the booze and gossip, and what ultimately becomes her undoing; “Old Fashioned Police Work” by Matt Adams, about a police force full of young recruits with superpowers, except for the one cop who can save them all; “Drag Show” by Eric Garrison about a most unusual drag show attended by a woman and her husband; and “That Ain’t No Chicken” by D.L. Russell, about an alien attempting to invade earth, who is thwarted by the rooster, Mr. Mudfoot.


As with all anthologies, not every story is going to be appealing to every reader.  I thought “Moffit Maley” by Sharon Black was a good story, but a little on the boring side.  “When Hell Fell From the Sky” by Tiffany Carrier was a confusing story about either aliens or demons—I wasn’t sure which.  “The Return of Richard Vanek” by Jeffrey Scott Sims was a very promising story with a great premise—parasitic aliens attempting to invade Earth by using the body of an astronaut thought to be dead on a disabled space station. Unfortunately, it was far too verbose, with the author telling the details instead of describing them. It just wasn’t fun to read.


Overall, A Big Book of Strange, Weird, and Wonderful, Volume II is a great collection full of interesting and entertaining stories.  The editors did a good job with their selections, for the most part, and I really enjoyed reading the stories.  It’s a good mix of horror, science fiction and fantasy for fans of those genres. Recommended.


Contains:  Some violence and gore


Reviewed by:  Colleen Wanglund



Corrupts Absolutely? Dark Metahuman Fiction edited by Lincoln Crisler*New Review

Damnation Books, 2012

ISBN: 978-1615726158/ASIN B007GE8RLC

Available: New paperback and Kindle

Did you ever wonder what would happen if you or someone you know developed superpowers in our reality?  Would they be good or evil?  Would they hide it or seek out the spotlight?  Would that power indeed corrupt?  This is a collection of short stories posing those same questions, as well as others.


Among my favorite stories is “Mental Man” by William Todd Rose, which follows a man who used his powers as a youth to commit petty crimes; now in therapy for stress and anxiety, he is working toward the capture of a serial killer—but there is quite the twist.  Another favorite is “The Origin of Slashy” by Jeff Strand, about a girl who is raped, and while attempting suicide discovers she has healing abilities; now a damaged girl is set loose on an unsuspecting world.   In “Max and Rose” by Andrew Bourelle, Max’s acquired powers eventually tear his relationship with Rose apart—and she wants him to know it. 


Other fantastic stories include “Hero” by Joe McKinney, about a man who can predict the future by exactly 7 minutes and 22 seconds, who is housed in a mental institution as a lunatic, with a narcissistic doctor treating him; “Conviction” by Edward M. Erdelac, about a young boy who walks around as a victim until a respected teacher tells him to believe in himself, with bizarre consequences; “Retribution” by Tim Marquitz, about a man seeking revenge for the loss of his family on 9/11 who is given a gift, of sorts, by the government; and many others.


As with any anthology, there are usually a few misses within the hits.  “Static” by Jason Gehlert is a good story about a cop who seems to suddenly develop superpowers, but it felt incomplete.  “Fixed” by Trisha J. Wooldridge started off really good but in the end it didn’t impress me; it was a bit anticlimactic.  Finally, “Pride” by Wayne Ligon was just an average story of metahumans being treated as second-class citizens.


However, the bulk of the stories are imaginative and well-written, and Lincoln Crisler did an amazing editing job.  Most of the stories are pretty quick reads, and very entertaining.  Characters and settings differ greatly, and the stories are not necessarily your standard comic book fare.  Corrupts Absolutely? is definitely worth the read. Recommended.

Contains: violence and adult language

Reviewed by: Colleen Wanglund



Fading Light: An Anthology of the Monstrous edited by Tim Marquitz*New Review

Angelic Knight Press, 2012

ISBN: 978-1479213481/ASIN B0094IC60G

Available: New paperback and Kindle

Echoing the destruction of mankind, the stories in Fading Light are frightening and, for the most part, quite bleak, which is how I like my horror.


Some of my favorite stories include “Parasitic Embrace” by Adam Millard, about what’s hiding in the spreading ash cloud of a volcanic eruption; “Wrath” by Lee Mather, about God taking away the sunlight for seven days to prove his power to an increasingly skeptical population; “Born of Darkness” by Stacey Turner, about the chaos that ensues after the sun is blocked out and God’s possible involvement; “Dust” by Wayne Ligon, involving massive dust clouds and aliens; and “The Equivalence Principle” by Nick Cato, a unique story on what happens when gravity, as a living entity, decides time for humans is up.


Other very good stories include “They Wait Below” by Tom Olbert, which is reminiscent of Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956); “The Beastly Ninth” by Carl Barker, which is a supernatural account of the battle at Waterloo between the Duke of Wellington and Napoleon; “Friends of a Forgotten Man” by Gord Rollo, about a man left to die through vigilante justice, and the unique manner in which his own death is avenged; and “Light Save Us” by Ryan Lawler, about a lighted compound  that is the only sanctuary from the beasts that live in the darkness—or is it?


As with all anthologies, there are some misses here including “Lottery” by Gene O’Neill , which I actually think is a good story but for me just didn’t fit the theme of Fading Light; “Goldilocks Zone” by Gary W. Olson, which has an interesting concept on alien dimensions but just kind of lost me a bit; and “Double Walker” by Henry P. Gravelle, which again, I did like but just felt it didn’t fit with the anthology’s theme.


I also received a companion e-book containing five stories that were very good, but left out of the anthology for other reasons. 


I really enjoyed Fading Light and think Tim Marquitz did another amazing editing job—he’s also one of my favorite authors.  A lot of the stories centered on the phenomenon of our sun disappearing. Whether by supernatural, religious or scientific occurrences, these scenarios are all equally frightening.  There are also quite a few unique stories contained here that are scary and bleak.  Nothing here is necessarily predictable, even considering the theme, but it is all imaginative and entertaining. Recommended.

Contains : violence, gore and adult language

Reviewed by:  Colleen Wanglund




Dueling Minds, edited by Brian James Freeman*New Review

Cemetery Dance, 2012

ISBN: 9781587672279

Available: Limited & Hardcover Limited



Dueling Minds is a ouroboros of a book. A collection of authors were all shown the cover art (which was based on a Ray Bradbury tale) and asked to write a story about it. Those stories were then illustrated and collected into this volume. Perhaps the image of a skull-fused balloon is a bit silly seeming, but these stories from Brian Keene, Gary Braunbeck, Tom Piccirilli, Tim Lebbon, Jenny Orosel, and Gerard Houarner are far from it.


Some take a surreal to downright esoteric slant on the imagery while others go literal. All are excellent, moody tales, but Braunbeck and Piccirilli's stand out as shining gems. Is this a good book? Absolutely. As it is printed  only in pricey limited editions, public collections should probably skip over this one. Private collectors, however, will find this to be a haunting collection that they'll come back to time after time.

Contains: language, violence

Reviewed by: Michele Lee



A Succubus for Halloween by M.E. Hydra*New Review

Excessica Publishing & CreateSpace, 2011

ISBN: 978-1461192671

Available:  Kindle & New



Halloween brings out all things scary, but with M.E. Hydra's short story collection, A Succubus for Halloween, those scares can also be mixed with a bit of titillation and sexiness.  This collection of thirteen stories, as with most collections, contains both strong stories as well as some that are weaker.  I especially liked “The Big Black Bed”, where a City Hall councilman is sent by his boss to get pleasured as a perk of the job.  Another favorite was “Naga Special Massage” where a man is sent to the "masseuse" for treatment to cure his claustrophobia.  This story took on a bit of a bizarro aspect (as did a few other stories in this book) and made me rethink the concept of massage therapy.  I also especially liked the three stories that were Halloween-themed, A Halloween Party With a Succubus, Halloween Nyte, and A Succubus for Halloween.  I only wished that there had been more stories themed for the holiday based on the name of the collection.  This didn't keep me from enjoying Hydra's work, though, and I will definitely seek out other books by her.  I recommend this to anyone who doesn't mind mixing erotica into their reading, as it is an erotica collection, though themed with horror and paranormal. 


Contains:  Adult Language, Adult Situations, Violence, Mild Gore

Review by Rhonda Wilson




Sick Chick Flicks by John Skipp

Cemetery Dance, 2012

ISBN: 978-1587672224

Available: New


Reading screenplays is rarely enjoyable for the typical reader. However, John Skipp has made a career of NOT doing what's expected in writing and publishing. He spent many years in Hollywood, emerged with his soul, and is still remembered for being one half of the pioneering movement of splatterpunk (along with Craig Spector).


Skipp knows that the typical screenplay would make one's eyes bleed as sleep took over, so he writes them almost like stories - something other screenwriters should consider. Maybe then we'd have more original horror movies that worked, instead of seeing moviemakers churn our remakes which bore even twelve-year-olds.


Sick Chick Flicks is a fun read. It's classic Skipp .Three stories here are included and are anything but  typical screenplays - or plots. Skipp knows how to write "different" female parts - strong females who can kick ass but are mentally resilient and anything but cookie cutter material.


"Afterparty" is a ghost story, sort of, that is set in a haunted house - sort of - and works on so many levels. Marcia, the lead who is led, also leads through the tale. The role demands an actress who isn't afraid to break through new walls. 


Sometimes, the title of a story creates a setup that begs for fulfillment. “The Legend of Honey Love” is one of those - and it delivers.  Despite Honey’s newfound fame and respect from society, she finds that sometimes, being a strong woman has its downsides. She's turned into a nationwide magnet for bilge from every direction, every type of person. However, she shows she can handle it quite well.


"Rose" closes the trilogy of screenplays, and please don't turn away like this reviewer did when the word "zombie" first turned up.  It's anything but a typical story. Yes, it has zombies but also puppets, songs, and a bat for stress relief. Enough said.


Sick Chick Flicks is not just a great collection to throw the spotlight on unique women in horror tales, Sick Chick Flicks is just, well, something just outside of normal.  John Skipp likely prefers that, and so will most readers.


Reviewed by: Dave Simms


A Book of Horrors edited by Stephen Jones.

St. Martin's Press, 2012


Available: Hard cover, paperback, kindle


Horror just took back its balls. A Book of Horrors isn’t just any collection of horror stories; it harkens back to a time when people weren't trying to be different just for the sake of being different.  This effort collects tales that, for the most part, actually scare or unnerve the reader.


Stephen King opens up the book with a new story, rather than one that has been recycled a million times, or a throwaway. That in itself is a rarity, and a portent for the rest of the anthology. “The Little Green God of Agony” rocks like we used to expect the King to rock. Of course, not every tale in the book works, but the winners outweigh the duds by a wide margin. Both Ramsey Campbell and Michael Marshall Smith have stories in this collection, and they never disappoint.


Of the fourteen stories and novellas, the heavyweights include:


“Charcloth, Firesteel, and Flint” by Caitlin Kiernan, long known to be a true talent of the genre and whose storytelling is only topped by her prose. Wow. She almost makes the reader forget about the King piece in this brilliant story of a hitchhiker and a driver spending a night in a hotel together .What happens inside cannot be predicted.


Peter Crowther's "Ghosts with Teeth" follows. It’s a strong effort that brings back scares for ghosts that aren't of the Paranormal Activity or dusty old house variety. His characters truly chew under the readers' skin.


Brian Hodge's "Roots and All" is a tale about family and the secrets which they keep, along with the decay of one's hometown and the people within those places.


Finally, Dennis Etchison’s story "Tell Me So I'll See You Again", about kids faking and staging deaths, is the shortest of the bunch, but it truly sucker punches the reader.


It seems like there have been hundreds of themed anthologies flooding the market in recent years. While many of them may contain some excellent stories, most do not include more than a few that actually frighten.  A Book of Horrors is one of the old breed, which helps to bring true bite back into the genre.  Highly recommended.


Thank you to the authors between the pages.


Reviewed by: Dave Simms



The Circle by Bentley Little

Cemetery Dance, 2012

ISBN-13: 978-1587673009

Available: Pre-order



Cemetery Dance continues its movement to provide diehard readers with gems of horror which have become hard to find or were previously unavailable to the general public.  Originally set in the collection Four Dark Nights, along with stories by Christopher Golden, Douglas Clegg, and Tom Piccirilli, Little's contribution now stands on its own here.


When a novella begins with a knock on the door, a young boy who squeezes diamonds out of his bum, and the insects which grace the cover of this book, the reader knows he or she is holding pure Bentley Little.


There is a shrine in a small suburban town which draws several people to come and offer something in return for money, sex, or other material items.  Of course, the witch who lives there has other plans for those who hope for something without much in payment. 


The three intersecting tales that wind around each other here in the span of a single night offer insight into the human condition, something Little is known for.  While not as thorough and inventive as works such as The Ignored, The Store, or Dispatch, The Circle still remains a fun read.


Recommended for any Little fan and those who enjoy their horror just a little bit --- different in the approach of the ordinary.




Urn & Willow by Scott Thomas, edited by Joe Morey, illustrated by Erin Wells

Ghost House (Dark Regions Press), 2012

ISBN:  978-1-937128-36-4

Available:  Paperback/Hardcover/(eBook anticipated soon)


Urn & Willow is a beautifully written, 198-page collection of short horror stories.  It leads the reader through terrifying yet enticing tales that stimulate both the imagination and intellect.  Insightful thoughts and superb symbolism interlace adventures with demons, flesh eaters, ghosts, magic and other realms.  Author Scott Thomas even induces fear through the form of a horse.  Each tale (one rhyming) is a gem, bound to the collection by theme: 18th and 19th century New England.  This setting is elegantly depicted as well as the time’s culture, splendors and hardships.


For this reason, Urn & Willow could be considered educational for high school students notwithstanding its violent content.  More generally, this book—by an independent specialty publisher—is recommended for libraries serving adult horror fans, specifically public libraries.


Contains:  Violence, gore, cannibalism, implied sex, suggested incest


Reviewed by:  Judiann Rakes



The Horror Hall of Fame: The Stoker Winners edited by Joe Lansdale

Cemetery Dance Publications, 2010
ISBN-13: 978-1587670268
Available: Hardcover


        This is the anthology that almost wasn't. Long delayed, The Horror Hall of Fame: The Stoker Winners collects some of the finest short stories and novellas chosen by the Horror Writers Association for the Bram Stoker Award. With any collection of stories there are sure to be highs and lows, even in a "greatest hits" package such as this. All the names are duly represented: Robert Bloch, Peter Straub, Harlan Ellison, George R.R. Martin, Elizabeth Massie, and so on. With any collection of stories there are sure to be highs and lows, even in a “greatest hits” package such as this volume.  In spite of the uneven character of the collection, some stories are really good, and a select few (such as Thomas Ligotti's "The Red Tower", Jack Cady's "The Night We Buried Road Dog", and David B. Silva's "The Calling") are brilliant, through and through. While not a perfect collection, there's certainly something for everybody to be found inside; some of it subtle, some quite disturbing, and all of it award-winning, for what that’s worth.


Reviewed by: Bob Freeman



The Whisper Jar by Carole Lanham*New Review

Morrigan Books, 2011

ISBN: 9789186865030

Available: new paperback


            The Whisper Jar is a collection of nine stories, combining a wonderful mix of horror and fantasy.  Easily my favorite of the bunch is “The Blue Word”, which takes place inside a mountain fortress run by the Church for orphan children.  A zombie virus has ravaged society, although the government has managed to get it under control.  Salvation House provides a sanctuary for children deemed “special”, until their eighteenth birthdays, when they return to the world.  Salvation House comes under attack at times and the nuns and the children must fend off the attackers.  One young woman named Esther discovers the truth about who she is and what really happens when the “special” orphans leave the only home they’ve known for most of their lives.  Lanham keeps you guessing through the entire story and then hits you in the gut with and unexpected and heartbreaking ending.


            Other stories include “Keepity Keep” about a pair of brothers who discover a fairy, and over the years become competitive and jealous in their relationship with her, leading to a devastating conclusion; “The Good Part”, about Etta, who becomes a vampire, and uses and manipulates her brother Gideon through an incestuous relationship; and “The Forgotten Orphan”,  about a boy who becomes a doctor’s assistant in an orphanage and discovers a secret.  There are also two poems, “The Whisper Jar”, about a village in which the townsfolk keep their darkest secrets in jars; and “The Adventures of Velvet Honeybone, Girl Werewuff” about how a girl became a werewolf.


            Carole Lanham writes with a touch of whimsy that draws you into what ultimately are very dark and macabre stories.  She is also able to flawlessly meld a childlike innocence with an eerie eroticism that for me really makes The Whisper Jar a major standout.  The stories are at times playful and then move into an almost unpredictable darkness.  This is one collection that I highly recommend if you like your horror weird and disturbing. Highly recommended.


Contains: adult situations


Reviewed by: Colleen Wanglund



Skeletal Remains: A Grisly Collection edited by Keith Gouveia*New Review

Rymfire Books, 2012

ISBN 9781468169737

Available: new paperback

Skeletal Remains is a cool little collection of nine short stories that center on the human skeleton.


“Mr. Marrow”, by Lorne Dixon, is a creepy story about what happens when a sadistic biology teacher’s classroom skeleton is stolen by a student as a prank. It has a very different outcome from Lisamarie Lamb’s “Anatomy”, about another biology class’ skeleton which apparently has something to hide.  “The Bone Thief”, by Keith Gouveia, is horrifying; a boy messes with a skeleton, voodoo, and a bully, with an unexpected outcome.  Suzanne Robb’s “Lucky Thirteen” recalls the horrors of the plague and a woman who uses it to hide her true intentions, and “A Frontier Banquet” by Jonah Buck is a cautionary tale that takes place during America’s push west.


“In the Name of Science”, by Giovanna Lagana, deals with a professor who deceives a student and the supposed fountain of youth; “Flotsam”, by Rebecca Sno,w is pretty frightening in its warning against picking up strange things lying on a beach; “Rainforest of Bones” is an eerie and peculiar about a reporter looking for an enigmatic man who disappeared in the rainforest; and Matt Peters’ “A Dirty Dozen” is quirky in its telling of a man attempting to reanimate twelve skeletons from the victims of Hurricane Katrina.


All of the stories are well written and Gouveia has done an excellent job with the editing.  The stories all have a nice flow and very unique subject matter.  Skeletal Remains is a quick yet enjoyable read. Recommended.

Contains: violence and gore

Reviewed by: Colleen Wanglund





Lore edited by Rod Heather and Sean O’Leary*New Review

The Lore Firm 2012/Volume 2, No. 1April 2012

ISBN 9780984773015

Available: new paperback


Lore is a collection of short stories of speculative fiction.  It encompasses horror, science fiction and fantasy.  The cover itself is a beautiful wrap-around piece by famed artist Richard Corben.


I must first mention a story called “Splash”, a round-robin effort with each writer keeping to a thousand words and the ability to rewrite two sentences from the previous part.  The authors involved are Don Webb, Richard Lupoff, Scott Cupp, Michael Kurland, Michael Mallory, Paul DiFilippo, and Jim Kelly.  “Splash” is a weird science fiction tale surrounding three alien creatures—T’eela, Aul, and Radiant—and the state of the universe after multiple galactic wars and the destruction of Old Earth.  It’s an interesting story but one that had me confused at times.  For a round-robin story I felt the prose should have been a little tighter.  It wanders at times and doesn’t always seem to go together….but it was an admirable effort.


There is also an unfinished story by the late Brian McNaughton, titled “The Deposition of Leodiel Fand” about political intrigue and witchcraft that plague a Palace Guard.  It is part of a fantasy series, The Throne of Bones, that takes place in another world.  Having never read McNaughton’s series, I read the story as a stand-alone novella and liked it.  I’m not necessarily a fan of fantasy, but the story is so well-written that it doesn’t seem as though it is unfinished.  The prose is detailed, imaginative and dark, creating an eerie and somber atmosphere.


Other stories include “Toll and Trouble” by David A. Hill about revenge on a galactic scale involving the stars and the music they can make; “She Wanted to go into the Trees” by Patricia Russo about people referred to as “the Sorry”, who are invisible to the rest of society, and how one managed to move into a different plane of existence; and “Fairy Gold” by Peadar O’Guilin about places in the world where humans and fairies can interact, but the fairies have decidedly sinister reasons for meeting with the humans.


Overall Lore is a good collection of multi-genre stories full of darkness, depression, eeriness, and a somber tone.  I’m a fan of horror over science fiction and fantasy, so I would give the book a three out of five rating…I found it average, although I didn’t dislike any of the stories included.  If you are a fan of speculative fiction, then this one is for you. Recommended.


Contains adult situations and gore


Reviewed by: Colleen Wanglund



Unspeakable and Other Stories by Lucy Taylor

Lucy Taylor, 2011

ISBN:  9780985239978

Available:  New and E-Format


Lucy Taylor’s work has been recommended to me frequently, due to my love for erotic horror.  Earlier this year, I finally got to read a short story by her, and I enjoyed every word of it.  So I was ecstatic when our site was contacted by the author about reviewing her short story collection Unspeakable and Other Stories.  The collection is made up of eight short stories, which I believe have all been published previously in various anthologies/magazines.  There was not a story in this collection that I did not enjoy, but my three favorites would have to be (in no particular order) “Wall of Words”, “The Family Underwater”, and “A Hairy Chest, A Big Dick, and a Harley”.  Taylor has a special way of playing with words and twisting them around, making the reader think one thing, and then, when she unravels it all, showing  something entirely different.  Her endings were always a surprise to me, especially in “A Hairy Chest, A Big Dick, and a Harley”. Yes, her stories would be classified as erotic horror, but I don't think many readers would find themselves wanting a warm body to make love to after having read her work.  Taylor's stories are sensual yet disturbing and are more likely leave you fearing the lover beside you.  Gripping and chilling, I devoured this collection in small doses to make it last longer.  Highly Recommended!


Contains:  Adult language, Adult Situations, Sex


Reviewed by: Rhonda Wilson



Dark Tales of Lost Civilizations edited by Eric J. Guignard

Dark Moon Books, 2012

ISBN-13: 978-0-9834335-9-0

Available: New


Collected in Dark Tales of Lost Civilizations are 25 short stories from the horror and speculative fiction genres, unearthing our forgotten worlds and societies.  The stories all begin with some known reality:  a familiar legend, an interesting era, textbook chapter, or archeological site. Then, leaping into the void from there, each writer suggests a gruesome alternate history.  The stories range from mildly disturbing to downright terrifying, although none are particularly visceral.  Most are written in a conservative, suggestive style, relying on the reader’s own imagination to take the plunge from speculation to horror. This element keeps the collection rooted in the possible, making it scarier, perhaps, than the current saturation of seductive monster-based and slasher fiction.  The prevailing understatement of gore makes the book a good choice for treating high school history students to a read-aloud on stormy afternoons.


Among my personal favorites was “Quivara”, by Jackson Kuhl. It begins with an old Sioux legend, a tragedy involving brothers mocking their gods.  Kuhl’s prospecting hero brings the curse upon himself through greedy pillaging. The story is dark and comical, and Kuhl’s style is brisk. This would be a great piece to read in conjunction with Native American studies; short, pointed, and entirely in character with the original mythology.


“British Guiana, 1853” by Folly Blaine, is a cool piece done in chin-up, British imperialist style. Classic horror tension builds steadily from start to finish as the reader watches helplessly while the explorers, desperately frightened and warned away at every step, still insist on carrying onward to their doom.  They open a vault made deliberately impassable; descend into terrifying darkness and stench; ignore a menacing, unearthly, drumbeat, and are climactically pursued into madness by the unnameable horror they unwittingly release. The writing is metaphorical and skillfully done.


“In Eden” by Cherstin Holtzman, is a satiric and original take on re-animation and the problems of keeping order in a wild west town in literal decay. Although the sheriff is only half a man, he makes a tough decision that affects the crumbling existence of what’s left of the population. Holtzman’s style is polished and understated, and he takes a surprisingly fresh angle on a well-trodden subject.  Recommended for grades 6 and up.


Contains: mild to moderate violence, mild myth-based sex, implied cannibalism.


Reviewed by: Sheila Shedd



Multiplex Fandango by Weston Ochse

Dark Regions Press, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-888993-27-1

Available:  New


Over the years I have heard nothing but good things about the works of Weston Ochse.  Having never read anything by him, I was looking forward to having the opportunity to check out his collection, Multiplex Fandango. I was happy to discover that everything I had heard was accurate.  Multiplex Fandango is a collection of sixteen of Ochse's short stories and not a one is disappointing.  Reading through this collection, I could easily see that Ochse cares about what he writes, as his feelings pour out onto the pages.  Some of the stories that truly stuck out to me were: “22 Stains in the Jesus Pool”, in which a hotel has a painting of The Last Supper painted at the bottom of their swimming pool that is stained by what appears to be blood; “The Crossing of Aldo Ray”, in which pretending to be a zombie allowed some to last a little longer; “Catfish Gods”, where two young boys set out on an innocent fishing trip, but learn so much more; and A Day in the Life of a Dust Bunny, which started out seemingly light but took an extremely dark turn.  I'm sure favorites will vary by reader, but there is something for everyone in this stand-out collection.  This was my first, but definitely not last, adventure into the mind of Weston Ochse.  Highly recommended!

Contains:  Violence, Adult Language, Adult Situations

Reviewed by: Rhonda Wilson





Four Legs in the Morning by Norman PrentissCemetery Dance Publications, 2011
Signature Series, Signed Limited Edition
ISBN: 978-1-58767-258-3

        Four Legs in the Morning is a compilation of three short stories that can be read individually; however, they all intertwine and are best read together. All three stories center on Dr. Sibley, chair of the English department at Grayson University, a man you never want to cross. Each story describes in terrifying detail what can become of those who attempt to slight Dr. Sibley; but did Dr. Sibley actually do anything to them? The answers are unknown, as they should be.

        This is a literary work in its truest form. Prentiss knows the genre and knows to do away with the “happily-ever-after” and leave things up to the readers’ own imaginations. He has a gift for language and description, bringing his characters and settings to life. Prentiss is the epitome of a story weaver; each of the three stories intertwine, relate back to one another, twisting and turning and bringing you right back to the beginning all over again.

        Four Legs in the Morning is delightfully creepy tale; I’m incredibly happy to have found Prentiss and anticipate becoming an avid fan. Recommended for adult fiction collections; however, since this is a Signature Series title, it might be difficult to purchase because of the limited quantity and its price.
Contains: n/a
Reviewed by: Kelly Fann



Cut Corners, Vol. 1 by Ramsey Campbell, Bentley Little, and Ray Garton*New Review

Sinister Grin Press, 2011


Available: New


The first ever book release from Sinister Grin Press is a mini-collection of three short stories by three VERY well-known authors: Ramsey Campbell, Bentley Little, and Ray Garton.  Ramsey Campbell starts off this collection with a story titled “The Address”, which tells of the events an elderly man goes through as he tries to find his way home.  Second up is Bentley Little, with a darkly humorous tale called “Conversation Between Two Women Overheard At My Dentist’s Office”, which gets increasingly more terrifying as the conversation between the two females plays out.  Ray Garton ends the collection with his story “Autophagy”, which is still giving me the creepy crawly feeling as the characters in this tale describe how they have strange “things” coming out of their bodies.  All three stories were terrifying in a different way and most enjoyable.  For readers not familiar with these three authors, this is a great introduction to each of them.  Seasoned fans of these authors won’t be disappointed in their latest release.  For a new press, this is an impressive first lineup and will leave readers curious as to what will be coming out next from this small press.  Highly recommended for all library collections.


Includes:  Adult Language


Reviewed by: Rhonda Wilson



Gaslight Arcanum: Uncanny Tales of Sherlock Holmes edited by J.R. Campbell and Charles Prepolec*New Review

EDGE Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-894063-60-9

Available: New and Kindle


    As long as there are people on Earth, I suspect, there will be fans of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes. As librarians and horror fans make arrangements to purchase the latest Sherlock Holmes movie or TV series video collection, may I also suggest picking up Gaslight Arcanum: Uncanny Tales of Sherlock Holmes to add to your display? The third anthology of a series of Gaslight Sherlock Holmes compilations (the others being Gaslight Grimoire and Gaslight Grotesque), this short story collection with a supernatural edge is both a notable and a noble tribute to the Great Consulting Detective.

All of the stories in this book are well-crafted, but the first story, “The Comfort of the Seine,” is in itself worth the cost of the book, in my opinion. Stephen Volk captures the underlying passion and anxiety of a young Sherlock Holmes wonderfully in this “origins” story, offering the reader a theory that would explain some of the eccentricities of the detective that are later catalogued by his companion, Dr. Watson. A young, impressionable Holmes, who loses a lady love and later his naïveté, is fascinating to read about in this work.


    Other worthy tales included “The Deadly Sin of Sherlock Holmes” by Tom English, where Holmes and Watson investigate a demonic tome, portrays Holmes as particularly ruthless and overly-enthralled in the case; “The Greatest Mystery” by Paul Kane, where a rash of seemingly unrelated murders by unwilling participants leads Holmes and Watson to the greatest nemesis of all of us; and “The Adventure of the Six Maledictions” by Kim Newman, which is actually a “foil” story about Professor Moriarty and his henchman, Sebastian “Dead-Eye” Moran. The weakest story in this collection is “A Country Death” by Simon Kurt Unsworth, not just because it was slow, but because it really had no relevance to the Holmes canon: a reader could exchange any name for Holmes’ with no discontinuity in the plot. However, this aside, the book is well worth purchasing.


    I recommend Gaslight Arcanum for Sherlock Holmes fans and anyone who enjoys a good mystery. These works are unlike Doyle’s stories, where the seemingly supernatural always has a natural explanation, but the puzzles in this collection are unpredictable and compelling nonetheless.


Contains: gore, violence, the supernatural


Reviewed by: W.E. Zazo-Phillips



 Help! Wanted:  Tales of On-the-Job Terror edited by Peter Giglio*New Review

Evil Jester Press, 2011

ISBN: 0615536352

Available: New, Used, and digital


For most people, there is nothing more terrifying than waking up and going into work day after day.  Peter Giglio shows just how valid this fear is as he brings together twenty-five authors and stories in Help! Wanted.  As with all anthologies, some stories will be favored by one reader while other readers will prefer the ones that reader didn’t care for.  For me, some of the stories that truly stood out were Lisa Morton’s “Face Out”, where a spell goes wrong for a bookstore owner; Mark Allan Gunnells’ “Must Be Something in the Water”, which will make you hesitant to ever drink from a water cooler again; Gregory L. Norris’ “Carpool”, in which a man finally goes crazy from driving to work each day; and Jeff Strand’s “Work/Life Balance”, which shows how things really can be too good to be true.  These are just a few of the magnificent and utterly terrifying stories in this collection.  Do yourself a favor and read this book… unless, of course, you think it will make it that much more difficult to get out of bed in the morning.  Consider yourself warned! Highly recommended for all library collections.


Contains:  Adult Language & Adult Situations


Reviewed by: Rhonda Wilson



Gathered Dust and Others by W.H. Pugmire*New Review

Dark Regions Press, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-937128-09-8 

Available: Leather-bound deluxe lettered hardcover w/slipcase and discounted trade paperback; leather-bound deluxe lettered hardcover w/slipcase; signed and numbered limited hardcover and discounted trade paperback; signed and numbered hardcover.


Wilum Hopfrog Pugmire's collection of Lovecraft-inspired fiction is quite simply — brilliant. Pugmire is in his element, with delicious prose that pays homage to Lovecraft’s literary legacy, along with that of many other literary heroes, but the heart of these works is all his own.  From “Gathered Dust”, his inspiringly provocative sequel to J.V. Shea's "The Haunter in the Graveyard", to his spot-on delivery of H.P. Lovecraft's Richard Upton Pickman and Robert E. Howard's Justin Geoffrey in "Depths of Dreams and Madness", the author's words are pure poetry, dripping from his pen with an alluring  decadence and infernal eloquence,   I wholeheartedly encourage the purchase of this collection by anyone and everyone who appreciates clever, unique, and atmospheric fiction that not only honors Lovecraft, but redefines it.


Contains: N/A


Reviewed by: Bob Freeman


The Bleeding Edge: Dark Barriers, Dark Frontiers edited by Jason V. Brock and William F. Nolan*New Review

Cycatrix Press, 2009


Available: Limited edition trade hardcover



The Devil's Coattails edited by Jason V. Brock and William F. Nolan, illustrated by Vincent Chong*New Review

Cycatrix Press, 2011

Available: 9780984167630

Available: Limited editiontrade hardcover  



Featuring: Ramsey Campbell, Jason V Brock, Dan O'Bannon, John Shirley, William F. Nolan, Melanie Tem, Jerry E. Airth, J. Brundage, James Robert Smith, Norman Corwin, Steve Rasnic Tem, R. C. Matheson, Earl Hamner, Sunni K Brock, Nancy Kilpatrick, Paul J. Salamoff, Marc Scott Zicree, W. H. Pugmire & Maryanne K. Snyder, Richard Selzer, Gary A.Braunbeck, and Paul G. Bens, Jr.


There are thousands upon thousands of horror fiction anthologies. What separates one book from the masses?   It’s something editors should consider before starting one of these projects. During the 1980's (the publishing glory days for horror), Doug Winter's Prime Evil, Kirk McCauley's Dark Forces and the Night Visions/Shadows series edited by Charles Grant were among the best.


The Grant anthologies come to mind here. When I was a young horror reader, I got excited each time I went to the horror section and saw the latest edition of Shadows or Night Visions (which continued for a few editions after Grant's death). I couldn't wait to open the book and see who was in the table of contents.  I felt the same way after reading Brock and Nolan’s first anthology, The Bleeding Edge, and I was excited when they said they were already working on a second book.


The Bleeding Edge was in many ways the most solid and groundbreaking anthology in the genre of dark and weird fiction in some time. The quality of paper and production is amazing. It is the kind of book you want to take care of.  It looked the treasure it was; the authors represented spanned several generations, ranging from Ray Bradbury to John Shirley, and also including young hip-snappers like Cody Goodfellow and Lisa Morton.  The editors also made the bold decision to include several formats, including screenplays, teleplays, poems, and fragments, rather than sticking to the traditional structure of a straight prose collection.


The Devil’s Coattails, Brock and Nolan’s second anthology, is not as diverse in formats, although it does have a poem by Nolan and a teleplay by Twilight Zone expert Mark Zicree. Once again, almost the entire book is filled with masterpieces. Only two stories didn't work for me, both by authors whose work I respect. I love Gary Braunbeck, and consider his horror novel Prodigal Blues to be a masterpiece, but his story in this book went over my head. W.H. Pugmire’s story appears to be set in his personal mythos and I felt a bit lost. I intend to go back and read it after I have explored more of his work.


The three best stories, in my opinion, were “Best Friends” by Melanie Tem, "Invisible” by Nancy Kilpatrick and "If you Love Me" by Paul Bens Jr. Tem's “Best Friends” is a Stoker-worthy ghost story about a woman haunted by the ghost of someone who is still very much alive. Kilpatrick's “Invisible” is a good story for people who complain about the service at restaurants, and might give them a lot to think about. “If You Love Me” is a deeply haunting tale about changing attitudes about AIDS in the gay community, a brutal heart breaker that perfectly caps off the end of the book.


This is a beautiful, amazing and special book. However, this is a serious collector’s item. It is a $150 dollar book and it looks like it. I am not sure if Brock and Nolan are planning to publish a trade edition. I hope so, because the masses should read this book.


Reviewed by: David Agranoff



Monsters of L.A. by Lisa Morton*New Review

Bad Moon Books, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-9837799-3-3

Available: New


        In Monsters of L.A., Lisa Morton takes twenty “monsters” (some more known than others) and adds her own spin on their stories based on her experiences in Los Angeles.  For example, this collection starts off with a very well-known monster, Frankenstein.  However, Morton’s Frankenstein doesn’t come with bolts in the side of his head, but rather is a Vietnam vet that suffered a lot of physical ailments in his past that involved him being pieced back together, and earning him the name “Frank” from a lot of people.  At the end of this collection of stories, Morton details a bit about who/what influenced the stories she wrote in this book and the story behind Frankenstein, in particular, is very touching.


    Additional stories in this collection that I truly loved I’ll list below, in no particular order, with a brief description:


    “Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde” – Dr. Jekyll in this story is in the process of creating a new method for gender reassignment, but instead of testing it out on animals, decides to test it out on herself with some adverse effects.  She isn’t aware at first of what all goes on after she injects herself, but soon learns.


    “Dracula” – Dracula is an actor in this story and doesn’t get along so well with his co-star, Eddie, which leads to some major tension.  Not only was this story fun, but it also made me groan out loud!  I won’t say why and give things away, but if you read this story you will definitely figure it out!


    “The Killer Clown” – With my fear of clowns, I was dreading getting to this story in the collection.  As expected, it made me even more afraid of clowns, as the girl in the story is practically terrorized by numerous clowns while at a liquor store.


    These are just a few examples of the amazing contents of this book.  I am typically not a fan of short stories, but Morton has made me second guess myself on this opinion with her stand-out collection.  Do yourself a favor and check out this Stoker-nominated collection! Highly recommended for all library collections.


Contains:  Adult Language & Adult Situations


Reviewed by: Rhonda Wilson



First Cut: An Anthology of Fast-paced Fiction edited by Heather Wildman*New Review

Paper Cut Publishing, 2011

ISBN 9781463589868

Available: New paperback



First Cut: An Anthology of Fast-paced Fiction is a collection of eight short stories that cover a range of subjects, including aliens, vampires, fate, and insanity.


My favorite story is “Unknown Number” by Mark Allan Gunnells about some weird text messages Ethan receives while waiting to meet his partner Roger.  The sadist sending the texts seems to be watching Ethan and knows that Roger is late…and why.  Ethan disappears, and six months later Roger begins getting text messages from a stranger.  This is a very creepy story and a good reason for why you should never answer a call or text from an unknown number.


Other good stories include “Suicide Mission” by David Perlmutter, about a very odd seven-year-old terrorist who may have built the perfect bomb; “Throwing Darts” by Gary J. Beharry, about how fate intervenes in the life of a man who suddenly finds his life spiraling out of control; and “Station Six” by David Martinez, about a man who meets his ideal woman through an internet dating site.


All of the stories were pretty good but I found the book as a whole was average.  However, don’t write it off.  They are all well-written and Ms. Wildman’s editing is top notch.  I personally prefer something a bit more extreme but if that’s not your bag then First Cut is a good book to pick up. Recommended.


Contains: violence, gore and adult language


Reviewed by: Colleen Wanglund.



D.O.A.: Extreme Horror Anthology edited by David C. Hayes and Jack Burton*New Review

Blood Bound Books, 2011

ISBN 9780984540839

Available: New paperback and Kindle ebook



D.O. A.: Extreme Horror Anthology is a collection of twenty-nine short stories and they are all extreme and disturbing.


Among my favorites are the very disturbing  “The Boogieman’s Key” by Calie Voorhis, about a man who uses a special key to enter the dreams of his foster daughter and sexually abuse her; however she learns from therapy that she is stronger than he is. Others include “Digital Media” by Michael Cieslak, about a man who is tortured and murdered because he won a contest on a website frequented by sexual deviants; “Sickened” by Tonia Brown, about a town’s sin eater, who is made extremely sick by consuming the sins of a pedophile; and “Cold Air” by Edward R. Rosick, about a couple going through medical school, where one discovers that she can capture the essence of life and the soul through necrophilia.


Other fantastic stories include “Plague Hulk” by Glynn Barrass, about a plague ship boarded by thieves in the hopes of robbing the dead (but the thieves don’t make it very far); “Go to Your Room” by Shane McKenzie, about what happens to three thugs who try to rob an old man rumored to practice voodoo; “Sisters” by Chris Reed, about a very odd sexual experience between a man with a woman who has two very strange sisters; and one that really horrified me, “Cena”, by Chad McKee, about a young man who inadvertently gets caught up in a dog fighting ring.


With most anthologies and collections the stories can run the gamut from great to good to not so good.  That’s not the case with D.O.A.  Some stories I liked better than others, but I liked every story in the anthology.  I love extreme horror and this collection is definitely extreme.  D.O.A. would make a nice addition to any extreme horror fan’s bookshelf. Recommended.


Contains: graphic violence, disturbing sexual imagery and adult language


Reviewed by: Colleen Wanglund



Let’s Play White by Chesya Burke*New Review

Apex Publications, 2011

ISBN: 978-1937009991

Available: Hardcover or Kindle ebook

or  directly through the publisher (


            David Bromberg once observed that, “You've got to suffer if ya want to sing the blues.” There is a lot of suffering that leads to some good quality blues going on in Chesya Burke’s Let’s Play White, a short story compilation with a distinct African-American perspective.


           As with most collections, some stories are stronger than others. My favorite was “CUE: Change,” a story about a zombie apocalypse in a disintegrated urban setting—the antagonist monsters turn out to be very different, and more sympathetic, than the usual brain-eating creatures. The final and by far the longest story, “The Teachings and Redemption of Ms. Fannie Lou Mason,” is also a well-crafted tale of a persecuted energy worker/ghost whisperer who tries to help two twin girls who possess similar gifts. The weakest link in this book is “Purse,” whose horror was a bit ham-handed, shocking the reader, it seemed, just for the sake of being shocking. However, most stories (“I Make People Do Bad Things,” “He Who Takes the Pain Away”) are very worthwhile. Some readers may be disappointed that several stories contain frequently-used themes and common character-types (i.e. evil drug dealers, the wise old woman practicing black magic), but other readers may prefer these qualities, and the stories are well-written enough to make them readable and enjoyable overall.


         Recommended for fans of urban-based fiction, as well as libraries and readers looking for horror with a different flavor.


Contains: violence, sex, rape, gore, strong language, black magic, ghosts


Reviewed by: W.E. Zazo-Phillips



Decayed Etchings by Brandon Ford*New Review

2011, Black Bed Sheet Books

ISBN: 9780983377399

Available: E-Book (PDF)


               Decayed Etchings is a collection of stories by Brandon Ford. It includes his first short stories and continues on through many stories he has written over his career so far as a writer. There are some charming tales, here and there, but by and large this is a collection of ‘True Crime’ inspired horror. That is to say, these are the scary and horrible things people do to each other. There are no monsters in this collection and only one rat is involved, and you feel really sorry for that animal after the main character in the first story has his way with it.


These stories are very well written, but the content is fairly adult. No children are featured in this collection, and I would suggest that this is the sort of book that no one under the age of 17 should probably read. It is, however, an excellent work, and I would suggest that if you read Stitches or Sold and survived, this would be a collection for you to consider. Recommended for fans of True Crime, slasher horror, and very strange tales.


Contains: Adult situations, profanity, violence, gruesome images and sexual content.


Reviewed by: Benjamin Franz



Necro Files Two Decades of Extreme Horror edited by Cheryl Mullenax*New Review

Comet Press, 2011
ISBN: 978-1936964529

Available: New and Digital


The very smart folks at Comet Press have gathered together some of the biggest names in horror and created an anthology of some very hardcore short stories.  Spanning two decades, Necro Files contains stories that are either difficult to find or out of print altogether.


Among my favorite stories—and believe me it was a difficult choice—is “Abed” by Elizabeth Massie about one woman’s ordeal while trying to survive a zombie apocalypse. This is NOT your typical zombie story.  Another favorite is Monica O’Rourke’s “An Experiment in Human Nature”, about three college students who take an experiment much too far and become part of a new experiment, without even realizing it.  “Blind in the House of the Headsman” by Mehitobel Wilson is a twisted look at the type of abuse one woman endures at the hands of her lover, and “Addict” by J.F. Gonzalez deals with the repercussions of a man’s extreme porn addiction (and there are a few twists to this one).


Other great stories include “Godflesh” by Brian Hodge, about extreme sexual fetishes; “The Sooner They Learn” by Wrath James White, about one man’s mission to teach kids right from wrong; “Diary” by Ronald Kelly, which is told as the journal of a murderous sociopath, written on his own body; and “The Burgers of Calais” by Nancy Kilpatrick that deals with one restaurant owner’s way of keeping costs down.  Needless to say, this last one nearly set off my gag reflex.


While most anthologies tend to be a mixed bag, Necro Files is practically perfect.  Every story is an absolute hit…and why not?  We’re talking John Everson, Bentley Little, Edward Lee, Joe Lansdale and George R.R. Martin, to name a few.  All of the stories are dark and disturbing in their own ways, and, well, extreme.  This is one anthology that horror fans, not just of the extreme variety, should have in their collections. Highly recommended.


Contains violence, gore, adult language and sex

Reviewed by: Colleen Wanglund



A Host of Shadows by Harry ShannonDark Regions Press, 2010
ISBN: 978-1888993820

Available: Perfect paperback and Kindle ebook

          I have read a few of these stories before, in Cemetery Dance and various anthologies, and I have always been impressed by Shannon. It's one thing to read a story here, or a story there. To read the stories back to back in one collection is totally different. You notice themes, you learn sabout what is crawling around in the gray matter of the writer in question. If you are a fan of short fiction in the horror genre, then please take my advice and move this book up to the top of your list.

         In a blurb on the back cover, author Brian Keene said "Shannon is a writer not afraid to walk into the shadows and drag things there kicking and screaming into the light." I know it's cheap to quote a blurb, but I tried hard to think of a way to say the same thing, because it is the best description possible.

        Shannon is a master at using tiny details that paint a dark and vivid picture. The atmosphere he builds leaves the reader with a feeling like they are turning away from a horrible sight, just keeping it in the corner of their vision. The styles range from traditional horror, to dark noir and experimental prose, all done with skill.

         My favorite stories included the World War II story "And the Worm Shall Feed", the Iraq war story "Thus was His Death", and the darkly comical mortality tale "Violent Delights."

         This is above average horror fiction that should be included in any serious horror fan’s personal library. Shannon is a very talented writer who deserves to be on library shelves everywhere.

Review by David Agranoff



The Bible Repairman and Other Stories by Tim PowersTachyon, 2011

ISBN: 978-1616960476
Available:  New paperback and Kindle edition


     I have long been a casual fan of Tim Powers and his work. I've always found his science fiction to balance grand ideas with excellent writing and strong characters. I have only read his novels in the past. I was a huge fan of Three Days to Never and The Anubis Gates. The Bible Repairman is a collection of odd, surrealist, borderline bizarro, speculative fiction. Readers won’t find space opera or generic sci-fi themes in this collection: it is really for highly literate and patient fans of  high quality weird literature.

     I really enjoyed the stories "Soul in the Bottle," a tale centered around a book collector and his fascination with Jean Harlow's star on the walk of fame, and "Hour of Babel," a neat time travel story inspired by the pizza joint that Powers worked at in the 1970's. The writing of all the stories are high quality: Powers has master's level talent. "Time to Cast Away Stones," the final story in the collection, bored me to tears, and the subject matter about Byron and Shelley did nothing for me personally. I understand this is a postscript to a novel Powers wrote called "The Stress of Her Regard." Perhaps if I had read that book, I might have been more interested, but to me that was a weak point in an otherwise perfect collection.

I think this is a good book for librarians to stock in their collection and to display, as I am hoping it will get more attention. Recommended.

Reviewed by: David Agranoff


Fifty-Two Stitches edited by Aaron Polson*New Review

Strange Publications, 2009

ISBN: 0982026625

Available: Trade paperback


Fifty-Two Stitches is a short (about 150 pages) anthology of flash fiction. The stories come at readers fast and furiously, and are potentially forgettable. Flash fiction is very hard to write and too often flash stories depend on see-through twists or (groan) puns. The stories here are no exception. There are some gems, and even more good writing, but much of it is strangled by dependency on clichés and character shorthand, although there could be interesting writing and twists. The length of the stories, too, lends to the feeling of them blurring together into one halting whole.


Fifty-Two Stitches will sate the needs of classic and ″monsters popping out of the shadows″ horror fans. I'd be able to recommend it more highly if there was a less expensive digital version available, or if there were more gems in the mix.

Contains: Sex, violence, gore, language

Reviewed by: Michele Lee





Jack O' Spec: Tales of Halloween and Fantasy edited by Karen A. Romanko*New Review

Raven Electrick Ink, 2011

ISBN: 9780981964331

Available: Trade paperback


The air has turned crisp and pumpkins are appearing all over. The trees are donning their fall colors and stores have been slinging fun-sized candies in purple and orange for a month now. It's the perfect setting for some great Halloween-themed tales, and this book delivers. Jack O' Spec is a delightful collection of poems and prose all centering on some of the themes of Halloween. Not the typical horror fare of monsters and killers, instead it studies magic, what Halloween would be like if we were no longer subjected to Earth's season and the myths behind the celebrations and masks in the first place.


This isn't a collection out to scare or turn reader away with blatant gore. It's out to dazzle and does its job well. From Michael M. Jones' holiday noir ″Who Killed the Pumpkin King?″ to Daniel R. Robichaud's steampunk story ″Autumn Jitters″ and Samantha Henderson's south-of-the-border ″Sugar Skulls″,  Jack O' Spec has a lot to offer. It's an excellent choice for Halloween lovers, and for public collections. Highly recommended.


Contains: Pagan themes, language, adult situations


Reviewed by: Michele Lee



The Thackery T. Lambshead Cabinet of Curiosities: Exhibits, Oddities, Images, and Stories from Top Authors and Artists Edited by Jeff and Ann Vandermeer*New Review

Harper Voyager, 2011

ISBN: 978-0062004758

Available: Hardcover


     Dr. Thackeray T. Lambshead, MD was a doctor of strange diseases. In his journeys to treat and occasionally cure the oddest diseases known to man, he found… stuff. The Thackery T. Lambshead Cabinet of Curiosities: Exhibits, Oddities, Images, and Stories from Top Authors and Artists explores the fascinating oddities found in Dr. Lambshead’s collection. The bizarre and interesting items stored in his ‘cabinet’ are the subjects of short stories by such writers as Michael Moorcock, Alan Moore, Naomi Novik, Tad Williams, and many others. These stories are accompanied by many fine illustrations by different artists.


     In this collection of steampunk fiction, I particularly enjoyed the stories of the Auble Gun, The Clockroach, and The Meistergarten. To say any more than I have would be to ruin wondrous, funny, strange fiction that literally leaps off the page and into your imagination. These stories and illustrations are some of the most excellent short works I’ve read in a long time, and I would tell you that The Meistergarten is hands down one of the funniest stories ever.  This collection is highly recommended for fans of steampunk, fantasy, and tales of the strange and bizarre.


Contains: Violence, adult situations, profanity. 


Reviewed by: Benjamin Franz



Our Lady of the Shadows by Tony Richards

Dark Regions Press, 2010

ISBN: 978-888993-94-3

Available: New



        There are the books that are required reading, perhaps for a class or because your cousin/friend/coworker just wrote one and bullies you into reading a copy. There are the ones you read for pleasure, but afterwards you place it on the shelf and forget about it, or give it to a book sale, and you say, “Yeah, I read that,” when anyone asks you about it. But then there are those special books that you come back to every so often, the books you pick up on a lazy Saturday morning to read in bed for a while. I’m pleased to say that, for me, Our Lady of Shadows has become one of those books.


        A collection of short stories and one novella, Mr. Richards is a deft hand at creating little worlds for the reader to visit. Each story takes place in a different locale, sometimes at opposite ends of the world, and the author transports the reader smoothly from one location to the next. It honestly puzzles me why he isn't on the tip of everyone's tongue in the horror world.


        Postcards from Terri, the novella and final selection of the book, is perhaps one of the creepiest stories I’ve ever read. Not because of its horrific supernatural elements—and there are plenty of those—but because the main character, Steve, is a willing, if naive, participant in his own destruction. He allows his undying lust—love?—of a woman to destroy his marriage, and then, through extraordinary circumstances, allows those emotions to slowly eat away at everything else. It could be argued that Steve’s life was over even before the main plot begins, but it’s chilling nonetheless. Also, for those who are fans of his Raine’s Landing series, the book includes the short story “The Winter People,” which includes the characters of Ross Devries and Cassandra Mallory. 


        Be advised that most of the stories in this book have been previously published, so libraries may already have one or two in other collections, but having these stories in one volume is well worth the purchase. I highly recommend this collection for any horror fan, and especially for those who appreciate subtle storytelling that packs a literary punch.


Contains: suggestions of sex, some gore, the supernatural


Reviewed by: W.E. Zazo-Phillips     



Voyeurs of Death by Shaun Jeffrey

Dark Regions Press, 2007
ISBN-13: 978-0615145679

Available: Paperback and Kindle


        Voyeurs of Death is a collection of Shaun Jeffrey short stories, gathered from many publications, spanning the years 1993-2009, with three previously unpublished stories thrown in. These tales range from the horrifying to the merely entertaining. Jeffrey is a fine writer, with a nice style, but I found most of the stories here to be...adequate. There is nothing wrong with the stories, but nothing really fantastic either. They entertain, without leaving a lasting impression. Which isn't bad, it's just not great.


There are a few tales that standout from the rest.


"The Tunnel" is a heartwrenching tale of brotherly love.


"Bugs" is a weird look at sickness and civil rights.


"Clockwork" asks if mechanics can defeat death


    Stories like "On The Brink of Extinction" and "Park Life"  are new takes on oft told tales. Not badly written, but not that original. Overall a solid collection of workhorse stories. If you want an afternoons entertainment that won't haunt your dreams, Voyeurs of Death isn't a bad choice. If you are looking for something that will "stick to your ribs," I suggest you look elsewhere.


Contains: Sex, vioence, and strong language.


Review by Erik Smith



The Best of Joe R. Lansdale by Joe R. Lansdale; edited by Jacob Weisman

Tachyon Publications 2010

ISBN: 978-1-892391-94-0

Available trade paperback


Contained in this anthology by Stoker winner Joe Lansdale are some of his best stories.  They cover multiple genres including horror, science fiction, fantasy and westerns.  They are weird, disturbing and funny.  Imagine Godzilla in a twelve-step program as a recovering monster.  A boxing match scheduled to take place in Galveston, Texas just as the worst hurricane to hit the U.S. bears down on the city.  Picture, if you will, Elvis alive and well and living in a nursing home under an assumed name.  This book IS the best of Joe Lansdale.


One of my favorite stories is “Duck Hunt”, a very disturbing tale about a boy’s first hunting trip that marks his passage into manhood.  It’s something he’s waited for, but it’s nothing he, or the reader, expect.  Another favorite is “Incident On and Off A Mountain Road”, about a woman involved in a car accident with a serial killer. However, the woman has a secret of her own.


Other great stories include “Mad Dog Summer”, a Depression-era Southern gothic story about racism and the things that lurk in the woods; “Night They Missed the Horror Show” about what happens to a couple of bored high school kids when they decide to skip going to a horror movie; “On the Far Side of the Cadillac Desert With Dead Folks”, which is a bizarre post-apocalyptic story involving zombies and someone’s twisted idea of religion; and “Fish Night”, about two travelling salesman who encounter the ghosts of the past after their car breaks down in the desert.


Five of the stories in this collection are Bram Stoker Award winners, and it also contains the novella Bubba Ho-Tep became a B-movie starring Bruce Campbell and Ossie Davis. There really isn’t a bad story in the bunch.  Joe R. Lansdale proves what a great writer he is.  If you’ve never read anything by Joe Lansdale then this would be a great place to start.  Of course if you’re already a fan of Lansdale’s, then this is a must for your personal library. Highly recommended.


Contains: gore, violence, adult language and adult situations


Reviewed by: Colleen Wanglund



Unspeakable: A New Breed of Terror edited by Theresa Dillon

Blood Bound Books, 2010

ISBN: 9780984540815

Available trade paperback

Unspeakable: A New Breed of Terror is an anthology of twenty-four stories all dealing with monsters.  Some are human, some are unnatural, but all are hungry and looking to feed. 

My favorite story is one called “The Booglin” by David Bernstein, about a new type of germ that escapes the lab and settles into an unsuspecting man’s nose.  What this poor guy thinks is just a stubborn booger turns out to be one nightmare of a superbug.  This one had me laughing and cringing at the same time.  Another great story is “Mato Tipila”, by Jesse Marie Roberts (who seems to be becoming one of my favorite short story writers lately) about why you shouldn’t climb Devil’s Tower during the off-season—you should listen to the Native Americans when they warn you away.


Other fantastic stories include “Border Jumper” by Adam Blomquist, about illegal immigrants, the Chupacabra and its offspring; “Acolyte” by Storm about a serial killer and the so-called gods he’s making his sacrifices to; “The Worm of the Waste” by Justin A. Williams about a young man who finds a flesh and metal creature living in an abandoned factory; and “The Robe” by Sharon M. White about a man visited by his daughter on the tenth anniversary of her disappearance.  I must also mention the story “Where They Come Out” by Holly Day, about bugs, that completely freaked me out. 


Theresa Dillon did a great job on this anthology because all of the stories are very good.  A lot of the time anthologies can have a mix of good, bad, great and merely decent but that’s not the case with Unspeakable.  The stories are weird, bloody, scary and disturbing.  Blood Bound Books has a real hit on their hands with this collection. Recommended.


Contains: blood, gore and violence


Reviewed by: Colleen Wanglund




Lilith’s Revenge and Other Stories of Femme Fatale by S.A. Gambino

Panic Press, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-4475-3215-6

Available trade paperback

Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned….and that truth is glaringly evident in Lilith’s Revenge.  The short stories in this collection all revolve around women getting revenge on a man who has wronged them or hurt them in some way.  In some of the stories, Lilith aids in the revenge: in others, the women manage very nicely on their own. 


The book begins with a prologue that reads as a poetic warning to men everywhere.  The first story, “Lilith’s Revenge”, tells of Lilith waking from a 200 year imprisonment and having her revenge on the town of Elmwood, which punished her for being Satan’s succubus.


Among my favorite stories are “Recluse”, about a serial rapist/killer who meets his match in Lilith; “The Awakening” about Susan and how as a zombie she is determined to find her husband; and “Monster” about 12-year-old Sharon who is determined to take revenge on her step-father for his sexual abuse over the last five years.  “Monster” is definitely not for the squeamish.


Most of the stories have an eroticism to them, some more overt than others.  S.A. Gambino’s imagination knows no bounds, with stories ranging from zombies to werewolves to vampires.  The stories are violent, disturbing and beautifully written.   Lilith’s Revenge is a quick and entertaining read.  I loved it. Recommended.


Contains:  violence, gore, adult language and sexual content


Reviewed by: Colleen Wanglund





Tattered Souls 2 edited by Frank J. Hutton

Cutting Block Press, 2011

ISBN: 9781461080817

Available: (To be released August, 2011)

            I reviewed the first book in this series, and, while the first book was not a perfect collection, it was a great introduction to several authors I had never heard of before. I was very excited by a novella in the first book that I thought should have been a stand-alone novel, and have followed and looked for the work of its author, Matt Wallace ever since reading it. That is an exciting function of an anthology such as this one: introducing us to authors we have not already found, usually by including stories by new authors in with those of well-known authors.

            Tattered Souls 2 seems to be focused mainly on newer authors, as I had only heard of Forrest Aguirre before reading this book. I found Aguirre's story to be the strongest of the collection. His story, “The Arch: Conjecture of Cities”, was somewhat Lovecraftian, not in the tired mythos tropes but in the way the story unfolded.

            The book opens with a Phillip K. Dick-inspired dark science fiction tale called “Yellow Called and Mom Was There”, by Tim Burke. Most of the stories are on the longer scale, coming close to novella-length. This worked in Aguirre's story, but made a few of the stories, such as Stephanie Shaw's “Mademoiselle Guignol”, drag. A few of the stories could have benefited from being shorter.

Tattered Souls 2 is a great concept, and should be supported for bringing new authors to the table. I think the first book did a better job, but I can tell you I will read the third when it comes around. Libraries with a focus on horror in their collection should have this for sure. Recommended.

Reviewed by: David Agranoff

In Extremis: The Most Extreme Short Stories of John Shirley by John Shirley
Underland Press; Original edition, 2011
ISBN-13: 978-0982663943

Available: New


            Every year at the World Horror Convention, writers compete in an annual “gross-out contest”. If you have a strong stomach, the stories tend to be funny or unbelievably awful. That is, however, not what makes John Shirley's short fiction extreme, although a couple of the stories certainly qualify. The extreme nature of his work is found in his unflinching look into the dark realms of the human condition. Opening this book is like staring through one of the worst peepholes you can imagine. There is no author working in the horror genre today that does a better job of shining light on these horrors while maintaining a moral center. Horrible and brutal things happen to many of the characters, but Shirley does not mock or exploit the suffering of his characters, even in his most outrageous and darkly funny pieces.

            I often read stories in a collection out of order, but Shirley has taken great care to create a rhythm with the stories, which are, in turn, comical, brutal, thoughtful and at times moving. Some highlights include “Cram”, the heartbreaking story of a bike messenger trapped in a subway during an earthquake called 'Cram', the haunting ghost tale “Just a Suggestion”, and the hilarious “I Want to Get Married Says the World's Smallest Man”. To me, the most heartbreaking of all was the science fiction short “Call Girl Echoed”. I read “Call Girl Echoed” when it was first collected in the Anthology of Dark Wisdom. It is a story of technology and the horrible disconnect we are headed towards. Shirley is a master at storytelling and at getting a message across without preaching. Near the end of the collection is a powerful story called “Animus Rights”, which is worth the cover price alone.

            We as writers are taught to create characters that the reader will care about or relate to. Shirley does an amazing job of involving us in characters you don’t often see in horror fiction, like methheads, sex-workers, and homeless junkies. For instance, “You Hear What Ray and Buddy Did” is about bi-sexual junkies turning tricks and “Tighter” is about a single mom/prostitute who has a john who never thinks he is close enough to dying during sex. “Just Like Suzie” is just as gore-drenched as anything by Edward Lee, but this story of a prostitute who dies while giving oral sex to a john is so disturbing that it makes you cringe, and feel gross and awful for being amused at the same time. I am not sure in all my years of reading horror I have been more uncomfortable reading a single story.

            The horror short story is an art form. Stephen King and Clive Barker in my opinion are masters at the short tale, they sometimes suffered from the word count. King’s Skeleton Crew and Night Shift contain some amazing examples of a master short story writer’s finest works. Take any of Barker’s six Books of Blood and you could teach master classes on the short story. In my opinion, In Extremis, is one of three John Shirley collections that rank that highly, the other two being Black Butterflies (which won the International Horror Guild Award and the Bram Stoker) and Living Shadows. Any serious student of the short story needs all three books on their shelf.


Contains: Graphic gore and violence, graphic and disturbing sexual scenes


Reviewed by: David Agranoff


Blood Lite edited by Kevin J. Anderson

Pocket, 2008

ISBN: 1416567836

Available: Trade paperback (new & used) & multiformat digital

Blood Lite is a collection of humorous horror stories, which more often than not means poking fun at horror tropes. If you're a fan of Jeff Strand-style stories you're in luck, because not only is a story by him here, so are 20 other tales of tongue-in-cheek terror.

Standouts include Kelley Armstrong's "The Ungrateful Dead" about a woman who can see the dead and finds them to be as annoying and pushy as the living; "A Good Psycho is Hard to Find" by Will Ludwigsen, which points out some of the more realistic side effects of surviving a teen psycho murderer; and Jim Butcher's "Day Off". Altogether, it's a very fun and dark collection that's sure to do well by horror (or dark fantasy or suspense, or whatever we're calling horror these days) fans. Definitely recommended.

Contains: Sex, language, gore, violence, bad puns

 Review by Michele Lee



Beneath the Surface by Simon Strantzas

Dark Regions Press, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-888993-92-9

Available: new at the Dark Regions Press website


Beneath the Surface is a collection of short stories that are all firmly set in the weird fiction sub-genre of horror: darkness and despair abound, supernatural creatures arise from the depths to terrorize the innocent and the guilty alike, and somebody always, always dies in the end, leaving the living to wish that they would, too.

               Some of Strantzas’ stories are better than others. The first submission, “A Shadow in God’s Eye,” is the story of a man who attends a religious meeting in an abandoned church to see truth in the world. Of course, he gets much more than he bargained for. This is perhaps the strongest tale, and reminds me the most of H. P. Lovecraft’s works. Other short stories, such as “You Are Here” and “Behind Glass”, could have been teleplays for episodes of The Twilight Zone or Tales from the Darkside. Unfortunately, several of the other stories are not of good caliber and some, like “Off the Hook” and “In the Air,” tend to drag the rest of the stories down. Plus, unless the reader just can’t get enough of Weird Fiction, trying to read all of the stories at once will potentially make them seem formulaic.

               Overall, I can recommend nd Beneath the Surface for weird fiction and Lovecraft mythos fans. Readers that are new to the genre should probably read a story or two at a time to avoid supernatural parasite burnout.


Contains: Gore, otherworldly possession, violence, despair.   


Reviewed by: W.E. Zazo-Phillips



But First The Dark: Ten Tales of the Uncanny by Frank Chigas

Medusa Press, 2010

ISBN: 9780972532433

Available: New

Fans of Lovecraft and Poe, rejoice!  This is a devotion that I would not shout lightly.  Frank Chigas has proven himself to be a master of the supernatural short story.


Each of these ten tales are set in the early twentieth century, and each is so beautifully well written that the reader is drawn in from the first paragraph.  Through Chigas' lively characters and ability to employ engaging dialogue I was transported to a more genteel time, where refined customs were observed; all the while feeling the sense of creeping horror, the evil lurking just around the corner. Crouched, and waiting to rip you into small, bloody pieces.


Chigas’ visions include a bloody, haunted tapestry depicting the Crusades and capable of driving men utterly insane in “The Missing Voussoir” ; the terror of a ghoulish cabal of Beelzebub, Lord of the Flies in “Indian Pipes”;  and the chilling tale of a mysterious home on the outskirts of town where it appears anthropomancy  (divination through the entrails of a human being) is being practiced in 'The Pocket Watch'.


My personal favorite, and for me it was very difficult to choose among them, was a particularly disturbing story depicting a parade of death in “The Pageant of Desolate Days”. Highly recommended for libraries and personal libraries of genre fans who also appreciate the classics.

If you enjoy this book, be sure to check out Frank Chigas'  Strange Corridors: Ten Tales of Horror, also by Medusa Press.


Contains:  Violence, some mild gore.


Reviewed by: Rhonda Walton






Strange Corridors: Ten Tales of Horror by Frank Chigas

Medusa Press, 2010

ISBN: 9780972532426

Available: New


Travel these strange corridors with Frank Chigas, masterful storyteller of the ghoulish and macabre.  Each and every single tale will delight  fans of the genre.  As in his other work I reviewed, But First the Dark: Ten Tales of the Uncanny, these stories are set in the early twentieth century, a much more refined time as far as custom and etiquette, but no less frightening in the depths of depravity, human and inhuman.


There is a little something for everyone in this collection, from a twist on the vampiric in “The Eavesdropper” to vengeful hauntings in ”Fourmis Dans Les Paumes” and “The Other Flat”, to an abomination demanding worship and sacrifice in “The New Christ of Templewood”.


Chigas is an incredibly eloquent writer, able to tap into what is truly dark and unnerving. I personally have not come upon a modern writer who was able to elicit the same feelings I have when reading Lovecraft or Poe until I read Frank Chigas.


It is difficult to choose a favorite from this collection, but I believe “The Cloaking Glass”  is a story that will stick with me for a very long time.  Old friends embark on a normal hunting trip, leading to a discovery that causes everything in their lives to take a horrible turn.  Sometimes not knowing is better.


Highly recommended for libraries and personal libraries of genre fans who also appreciate the classics.


If you enjoy this book, be sure to check out Frank Chigas' But First the Dark: Ten Tales of the Uncanny,  also by Medusa Press.


Contains:  Violence, some mild gore.





Bone Marrow Stew: Collected Works, Volume One by Tim Curran

Tasmaniac Publications, 2011

ISBN: 9780980636796

Bone Marrow Stew is a fantastic short story collection from Tim Curran.  With stories ranging from a man who can resurrect the dead in Paris, a theoretical physicist who sees into another dimension, to the people caught in the middle of a migration of epic proportions on a mining colony and the things the men on a prison road crew actually do, there is something here for everyone.

My favorite story in the collection (although it’s hard to choose), is “The Chattering of Tiny Teeth”, about the things seen on a muddy, trench-filled battlefield in Flanders during World War I: it’s so much worse than the dead, dying and usual horrors of war.  Another favorite of mine is “Queen of Spades”, about a group of children trying to scrape out an existence in a bombed out city during World War II:  what’s come looking for these children may be worse than the Nazi soldiers they were able to hide from.  And how could I possibly leave out “The Legend of Black Betty”, a tale about zombies and voodoo in the Old West?

Other great stories include “The Puppeteer”, about the things that puppets may be able to do when no one is looking; “One Dark September Night…”, about the scars one man has carried from a night with his friends; “The Architecture of Pestilence”, about a snake-oil salesman and the consequences of his actions; and “Reign of the Eater”, about the bringer of death….this one reads like dark poetry.

Bone Marrow Stew is an amazing collection.  Tim Curran has a way of writing that draws you into the story: it’s as if you’re really there.  You can almost hear the sounds and smell the smells.  His prose is descriptive, dark and visceral.  The introduction by Simon Clark and artwork by Keith Minnion (the cover was designed by Deena Warner) just add to the collection.  If you’ve never read anything by Tim Curran this is a good place to start.  Highly recommended.

Contains: blood, gore, violence and adult language

Reviewed by: Colleen Wanglund




Crucified Dreams Edited by Joe R. Lansdale
Tachyon Publications, 2011

ISBN: 978-1616960032

Available: New


          Joe R. Lansdale is a force of nature.The author of over thirty novels, hundreds of short stories and graphic novels  is just an amazing writer. If you haven’t read any of his stuff, start adding his books to your TBR pile.

          Crucified Dreams is, hands down, the best anthology I have read in years.  In his introduction Lansdale described it as fiction that is in a similar vein to what he writes. In a lot of ways, if you started reading it without the author’s name it would be possible to believe he wrote many of the stories.

          Like the best of Lansdale's own fiction, you will find yourself involved in the stories, flipping pages quickly, and constantly feeling the range of emotions you want from a book. You will laugh out loud, cringe at events you know are coming, and shake your head in delightful disgust.

          The list of authors in this volume is impressive, and includes Stephen King, Harlan Ellison, David Morrell, Tom Piccirilli and many, many more. There is not a stinker in the bunch (outside of one story by Jonathan Lethem, whose unbroken structure grated on me). Top to bottom, this book is brimming with creative insanity.

          Some of my favorites included David Morrell’s revenge tale “Front Man”, Lansdale’s own “The Pit”, Octavia Butler’s bitter tale of disease, and Portland’s own Lucius Shepard with a tale of a not so over the hill boxer. Tom Piccirilli had the best story opener and my absolute favorite story of the book is  “The Mojave Two Step” by Norman Partridge.

          This is a must have for any serious horror reader or library. Lansdale has given us a gift. I only wish I knew more about how and why he selected the stories. If you like short stories you will love this book. Highly recommended for public library collections.



Reviewed by: David Agranoff



Rhymes of the Dead by Sheri Gambino

Amazon, 2011

Available: Kindle ebook edition



            Sheri Gambino has gathered together a collection of horror poetry chock full of vivid descriptions of monsters, cannibals, zombies and bed bugs.  They are the stuff of nightmares, covered in crimson, and they’re all hungry. 


Some of my favorites include “We Have Changed”, which contemplates humankind’s potential manner of extinction; “Evil Embrace”, about giving into the temptation to be bad; “Fresh Meat So Sweet”, about a female serial killer who likes to enjoy her prey before she feeds; and “Martin’s Bed Bugs”, about, well bed bugs and the poor soul who thinks he just has a rash.


            There are also a few short stories in the mix. These include “Forgotten Cemetery”, about a Civil War cemetery left to rot and what the souls buried there decide to do for revenge; “Z is for Baby” about a pregnant woman bitten by a zombie and the abomination she gives birth to; and “Messed Up Fairytale, Little Red” that is quite a twist on the old Little Red Riding Hood story.


            Sheri Gambino’s poetry is dark, scary, erotic at times, and funny at others.  She can turn something as benign as a rainstorm into something apocalyptic and terrifying.  If you have a Kindle you should definitely pick up this collection. Recommended.


Contains: gore, violence and sexual situations


Reviewed by: Colleen Wanglund



Shades of Blood and Shadow by Angeline Hawkes

Dark Regions Press, 2009

Available: New

ISBN: 978-1-888993-68-4


Shades of Blood and Shadow is a collection of short stories by Angeline Hawkes. Mrs. Hawkes covers a wide range of horror sub-genres, as she tackles stories of ghosts, ghouls, vampires, witches, mutants and ancient gods. Many of her stories are bound in religion, both Wiccan and Christian, with settings from the Middle East to Mexico. Several stories also cross into genres outside the realm of horror, though they are still filled with terrifying elements and could be mistaken for nothing else. “The Piper of Glamis Hill” and “The Woeful Tale of Fiona MacLean” take on a romantic edge while stories like “Last Breath” and “Fallen” have a touching side that will almost bring a tear to the reader’s eyes. Many of the characters come to life and will stay with the reader long after then stories are finished. One memorable character is Wyatt from “The Highwayman of Epping Forest”, a cruel man with no respect for anyone other than himself, and a cruelty that few characters can match. Another character that stands out is Liza from “El Reptil Rey”, a bold and self-confident heroine with a selfish streak that costs her dearly. The fantastic artwork of Thomas Moran is a fine complement to this  Shades of Blood and Shadow would make an excellent addition to any horror short story collection or anyone who likes fearsome tales of witches, curses, ancient gods and a wide assortment of monsters.


Contains: Violence, Rape


Reviewed by: Bret Jordan


Little Things by John R. Little

Bad Moon Books, 2010

Available: New and used

ISBN: 978--09844601-6-8


             John R. Little is a Bram Stoker and Black Quill award winner, and Little Things is a career-spanning collection of some of his best short stories. Strong writing highlights 23 tales that range from subtle to startling. Many of the pieces presented here have a classic Twilight Zone feel, and, although some of the endings are predictable, that doesn't take anything away from their entertainment value. It's easy to see Little's growth as a writer, from simple storyteller to master craftsman.


            Highlights include "Tommy's Christmas", a nice twist on the old "kid catches Santa in his house" story;

"Doing Daddy", a sad tale of parental care, with a surprise ending; "Accordion Season", a tale too bizarre not to love; "The Jameson House", a coming of age story with a GREAT twist. I never saw it coming. My personal favorite. In “Ever After”, we discover what secret keeps Janie’s father looking so young, and in "Those Little Cameras!" the reader wonders if this is the next step in reality television? Finally, "Placeholders" is a masterfully complicated story that all fits together in the end, and an amazing piece of fiction.


            It's tough choosing just a few stories to highlight. I could go on and on about most of the tales in this fantastic collection. John R. Little is deserving of the praise and rewards that have already come his way, and, if there is any justice, should become a household name.

     Highly recommended for libraries and ANYONE who likes plain old good writing.


Contains: Strong language, violence and sex.


Reviewed by: Erik Smith


Sick Things: An Anthology Of Extreme Creature Horror edited by Cheryl Mullenax

Comet Press, June 2010

Available: New and used

ISBN: 978-0-9820979-7-7


            Sick Things is a collection of 17 stories of parasites, aliens, demons, insects, and many other nasty critters, and offers up a bit of something for any fan of monster mayhem. The stories range from grotesque to downright hilarious, with a nice blend of different creatures to keep things from getting bogged down. As with most anthologies, there are a few weak links, but the majority of work here is strong.


            Highlights include "Hunger Pangs" by Matt Kurtz, in which a diet pill from south of the border brings weight loss with extreme consequences; “Evil, Bent, and Candy-Sweet” by Tim Curran, a horrifying new take on “Hansel and Gretel”,  "Fly On The Wall" by Stephanie Bedwell-Grime, which asks the question “Could you love a woman with a strange affinity for flies”? Finally, easily my favorite story in the bunch, “Jimmy Sticks and the Outlaw Critter of Doom” by Michael Boatman is a positively gut-bustingly funny and gross take on the Crow comics and movies. Only, this time it's a back possum, not a bird.


            The one real problem I have is the use of the word Extreme in the title. Maybe I'm jaded from reading lots of Edward Lee, Wrath James White, Richard Laymon, and Jack Ketchum, but, to me, only two stories come close to anything I would consider extreme. That's not to say this isn't a very good collection; just don't expect the over-the-top sex and gore usually associated with the masters of extreme horror.


                        Sick Things is a well-rounded anthology that I recommend for libraries and fans of good creature terror.


Contains: Strong language, some extreme violence, sexual situations.


Reviewed by: Erik Smith




It’s For You by Keith Minnion

White Noise Press, 2011

ISBN: 9780615372778

Available: Pre-order 

        It’s For You by Keith Minnion is a collection of short stories that range from horror, to fantasy,  to science fiction.  Minnion includes some of his stories that have been previously published. Minnion displays remarkable storytelling skills that keep the reader going from page to page; he creates interesting characters and creative situations that keep the reader engaged.  Minnion’s book will hold interest for a wide variety of readers and goes beyond the horror genre. My favorite stories in the collection are  "Eats" the tale of Mike who is on a trip  with his nagging wife Alice, pulls off at small secluded dinner that will change Mike’s life forever and "Island Funeral" where a grieving husband is following his wife’s wishes to  be buried in the family graveyard in up in Maine.  It’s For You is a collection that allows Minnion to show off his multiple talents. He offers up the tales, provides beautiful interior illustrations of some of the characters from the stories, and has produced the book himself. Clearly a lot of thought and effort has gone into the book, and it has paid off- it truly makes it worth owning.  In the back there are story notes that share what the various influences and inspirations of the stories were and what the history has been behind them. 


The book itself is a piece of art.   

Highly recommended. 

Contains: Violence, murder, gore.



Vicious Romantic by Wrath James White

Needlefire Poetry (an imprint of Bellfire Press) 2010

Available new paperback

ISBN 9781926912028


Vicious Romantic is a new poetry collection from Wrath James White that delves into the dark side of human nature.  There are child killers, vampires, cannibals and serial killers.  Wrath James White has experimented with Japanese and Korean poem structures to create something quite unique.  Most notable are the poems “House of Murderers”, “A Teen Mother’s Sorrow”, and “The Wind Over the Water” that are done in Japanese haiku—five syllables, seven syllables, five syllables—but where a single poem’s structure is repeated over and over again.  The individual traditional haiku can stand alone on its own but the repeated structure creates one longer poem.  They are simple yet complex at the same time.  All of the poems are dark and visceral, but beautiful, as well.  The imagery conjured up in this poetry collection is quite extreme but I expect nothing less from White.  He pushes boundaries and makes his readers think.  I have already read and re-read Vicious Romantic three times and plan to read through it again.  I absolutely loved it. Highly recommended.

Contains: violence, gore, sexual images, cannibalism, and violence against children

Reviewed by: Colleen Wanglund




The Mad and the Macabre by Jeff Strand and Michael McBride

Dark Regions Press 2010

Available trade paperback

ISBN 9781888993981


The Mad and the Macabre contains two novella-length stories from veteran horror writers, one from Jeff Strand and one by Michael McBride. 

“Kutter” by Jeff Strand is about Charlie, a very successful serial killer.  Charlie is so successful because he has rules that he always follows without exception.  He keeps to just one victim every other month.  He chooses someone that will (usually) not be missed.  Charlie hasn’t been caught in three years….but he’s also a loner.  He keeps to himself at work, doesn’t date, and has no friends.  One night while walking through a park Charlie finds an injured dog.  Initially he passes it by but thinking there might be a reward he brings the Boston Terrier home.  Charlie cleans him up and feeds him and decides to make up flyers to post around the neighborhood, but when no one claims the dog, his co-worker Alicia suggests he keep the dog….and he does.  Charlie names him Kutter and slowly begins to spoil him rotten.  Charlie loves the dog and Kutter loves Charlie.  What happens to Charlie over the next few weeks and months is nothing short of amazing.  He becomes more social and even forgets about hunting for victims.  Unfortunately, Charlie’s past will eventually catch up to him.

“Remains” by Michael McBride tells the story of family members left to deal with their loved ones’ disappearance in the Colorado Rockies.  A group of graduate students who went into the wilderness in the hopes of finding God or some proof of his existence, disappeared two years ago and no trace of them was ever found.  Now a former detective has found a strange microorganism on a bone found by a rancher.  After confirming it as a potential clue to the group’s fate, the family members gather at the camp where the students were last seen and begin a fresh search.  The students believed, based on Biblical passages, that the fallen angels were cast down to Earth and into Hell in the Rockies.  Gabriel, Cavanaugh and the others follow the leads of their missing relatives and embark on a methodical search based on the students’ research and the sudden and strange find.  Are the kids still alive?  Are they dead?  Did they find what they were looking for?

Both stories are heart-wrenching.  Jeff Strand has taken the old story of a boy and his dog and turned it on its ear.  Charlie actually becomes a sympathetic character.  There was a point in the story that was positively cringe-inducing but it proves to be an excellent vehicle for the story’s conclusion.  “Kutter” also has a nice little twist to it, which I thoroughly enjoyed.  “Remains” is a quasi-religious-based horror/sci-fi story, which I did enjoy for the most part.  McBride manages to keep the mystery of the students’ disappearance until the very end, which makes for one hell of a page-turner.  While the story is well-written and suspenseful throughout, its conclusion is something I’ve seen and heard in TV shows on The History Channel and National Geographic Channel, and I was a little disappointed.  Besides the one flaw in the conclusion of “Remains” The Mad and the Macabre was an excellent read. Recommended.

Contains: violence, gore and sexual situations

Reviewed by: Colleen Wanglund




What Tangled Webs By Dan Dillard

CreateSpace 2010

Available New Paperback and E-book Edition

ISBN 9781453640029

             What Tangled Webs is the latest story collection from Dan Dillard, who also gave us the collection Demons and Other Inconveniences.  There are nine short stories of the macabre and the disturbing, as well as a novella about Satan, and a fun and dark poem to whet the readers’ appetite.

               The book begins with the poem “Lament of the Devil”, about the tasty souls the Devil will partake of, and it finishes with the novella “The Wager”, about Jacob Kane, a fisherman who meets and falls in love with Caitlin.  Caitlin’s father decides that she will marry someone else and Jacob leaves town in anger and despair to get drunk.  While at a seedy tavern, he meets Old Harry and makes a wager that he will get Caitlin by any means necessary.  Old Harry turns out to be Satan.  Jacob returns to town weeks later, but he thought he was only gone overnight.  Jacob’s plans to win Caitlin don’t go so well and he loses his wager.  Satan’s plans for Jacob have only just begun.

My favorite story is “Rites of Passage” a twisted tale about a group of young children living in an orphanage, which gives new meaning to being adopted.  Mrs. Spivey runs the home and welcomes the newest child, William, a six-year-old boy who doesn’t understand how things work just yet.  Another great story is “The ‘A’ Word”,  about a stalker who has decided that it’s time to kill his prey. It also delves into a neighborhood secret….and this one’s a doozy.  “Epi3Demic” couldn’t have been written at a better time.  In this story, people around the country begin tearing their friends and loved ones apart—literally--after seeing a 3D movie. “Deliver Us from Evil” is the story of a woman’s revenge against a guy who picked the wrong chick to mess with.

               All of the stories are well-written and there isn’t a bad one in the bunch.  They are all sufficiently gruesome.  Dan Dillard has proven again that his imagination is twisted enough to warrant a place in the horror genre.  I recommend picking up both of his collections. Highly recommended

Contains: violence, gore, adult language and sexual situations

Reviewed by: Colleen Wanglund 



Nocturnal Emissions by Jeffrey Thomas

Dark Regions Press, 2010

Trade paperback

Available: New

ISBN: 9781888993844


Demonstrating his writing ability across the horror, dark fantasy, and science fiction genres, Jeffrey Thomas has written some wonderful stories containing supernatural elements, faraway worlds, and other dimensions.

My favorite story hands down is “The Pool of Tears”, a story told entirely through letters and emails between a man and his estranged daughter.  Cryptozoologist Abraham Villa believes he’s found something truly amazing and tells his daughter about it.  The story gets truly bizarre when not only does this creature resemble a giant caterpillar with a human face, but a hookah pipe is found in the same vicinity.  Abraham later tells his daughter of another discovery—a large cat with a grin from ear to ear.  Unfortunately for Abraham, it seems as though his daughter has ignored his correspondence, while his discoveries prove to be a metaphor for the loss of his daughter.

Another favorite of mine is the first story, a novella titled “Godhead Dying Downwards” about Father Venn, who died in a fire that completely destroyed his church.  Father Venn is somehow still walking this earth as a corporeal being, and he needs to find the reason for it.  What he discovers is a hatred between Christian faiths so deep that it drives the summoning of demons.  Taking place in 1883, this period piece contains some fantastic supernatural elements, including a demon Black Dog and a few ghosts left behind to find their own way home.

Other great stories include “The Hosts”,  a creepy story about a generation of children afflicted with a parasite that embeds itself in the brain and the parents who love them; “Demeter”, about a budding screenwriter who feels his first script and first wife were stolen by Hollywood; and “The Possessed”, about three explorers whose bodies are left behind on a dying Earth while their consciences move about the universe trying to find a suitable new home, and discovering something quite horrifying on another dying planet.  I thoroughly enjoyed a section of the book called “Thirteen Poems” containing thirteen poems by Jeffrey that are at times horrific and at others quite funny.

Nocturnal Emissions is a wonderfully written book that covers a range of genres but manages to blend them together effortlessly. Recommended.

Contains: sexual situations and some violence

Reviewed by: Colleen Wanglund 



The Blackness Within: Stories of the Pagan God Moccus Edited by Gill Ainsworth

Apex Publications, 2010

Available: New

ISBN:  9780984553525


Moccus is the ancient Celtic god of fertility, appearing in the form of a boar.  The Blackness Within is a collection of thirteen terrifying stories that display both the generosity and brutality of Moccus, taking place in many locales around the world, from tribal villages through the modern cities of the 21st century. 

One of my favorite stories is Camille Alexa’s “For They Are as Beasts”, about a village on an island in the North Atlantic that has been favored by Moccus over the mainland.  Every year a vote is put to the people, who select someone who has violated the teachings of Moccus for purging.  What is scarier here is not Moccus’ potential cruelty, but the people themselves.  To me this story is reminiscent of the Salem witch trials.  People suggest others for purgement based on who they know or don’t know.  That’s always scary in my book.

Another favorite of mine is “Abbatoir Blues” by Geoffrey W. Cole,  about a man who is brought before a secret order within the Church of Moccus on charges of heresy.  Toby has been a faithful follower of Moccus all of his life, but he finds something that leads him to question the Church and its motives for selling certain items to the members of the congregation.  Apparently the Church of Moccus will do anything to protect their secrets.

Other really good stories include “Big Game”, by Conrad Zero, about one company’s unique way of choosing a new CEO; “Dance of the Psychopomps”, by Joshua McCune, about the games the Gods play; “Daughter of God”, by Maxwell Peterson. about a young girl being prepared by a village elder to become a bride of Moccus; and “Chain of Hearts”, by Eric Gregory, about someone who receives a most interesting heart transplant.

The Blackness Within is an excellent collection of stories that manages to include all incarnations of the god Moccus.  They are scary, bloody, and visceral…I enjoyed them all and you will too. Recommended

Contains: gore, violence, rape and adult situations

Reviewed by: Colleen Wanglund



Mischief Night by Paul Melniczek

Bad Moon Books, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-9844601-7-5

Available: New


         Paul Melniczek is a prolific author—according to the “About the Author” page of Mischief Night, he has published ten novels and has sold over one hundred stories. His latest submission is a well-done novella of three short stories that is not too graphic, nor too gory. For junior-high readers, it is just right.


         The three short stories are connected by the characters,  three seventh-graders who make the mistake of pranking the wrong house in the first story, and then fall prey to the revenge of the antagonist, the mysterious Mr. Berger, in the second and third stories. The plot is simple but well-written, and the characters are authentic. At seventy pages, it is an acceptable length for juvenile readers.


          The only criticism I have is the cover art. As artwork goes, Caroline O'Neal did a superb job of recreating a pivotal scene with fine detail and skill. Even the title font is relevant to the story! A lot of books sold by Bad Moon Books have hand-drawn covers, so perhaps it's a sub-genre thing. However, in my opinion, the cover medium made the book look dated: it reminded me of the Scholastic books from the 1970's that I used to read in my dad's classroom. It would be nice to see this book with a slicker cover, so perhaps their target audience would want to pick it up and read it.


          I can recommend this book for any librarian who needs a good, relatively tame horror novella for middle-school readers. The end of the third story suggests the possibility of a sequel, which I hope comes to fruition: I would look forward to seeing a new chapter in the lives of these kids.


Contains: black magic, youth-grade violence

Reviewed by: W. E. Zazo-Phillips



Fungus of the Heart by Jeremy C. Shipp

Raw Dog Screaming Press 2010

New Paperback 160 pages

ISBN 978-1-935738-00-8


In this latest short story collection Jeremy Shipp explores what happens to relationships when the rules of society go out the window.  In his surreal worlds, he explores the heartbreak, desire, fear, and loss that go into these relationships.  Full of quirkiness, horror, humor and the just plain weird, Shipp fans should be pleased with Fungus of the Heart.

              My favorite story of the collection, “Fungus of the Heart”, is an almost medieval, otherworldly tale about Nightingale, a Sentinel seeking the power he needs to save his love, Cailin, who was captured and is being held in the Fortress.  Nightingale will stop at nothing to save her, even if it means turning into a monster to do so.   Another favorite of mine is “Ticketyboo”, about a brother and sister who must live with a guardian until they can learn to deal with the death of their parents.  “Monkey Boy and the Monsters” is a funny story about Monkey Boy, who is hired by various people to fight the monsters of society with his companion Soapy, literally a bar of soap.

             Other great stories include “The Haunted House”, about Ash, a spiritual being who helps his clients remember and deal with traumatic events in their lives; “Boy in the Cabinet”, about a boy who is afraid to leave the cabinet he lives in because he is afraid of change; “Just Another Vampire Story”, about a man who cheats on his girlfriend and the aftermath of his actions; and “The Escapist” ,which tells of a war between Gnomes and Goblins and the lengths one individual is willing to go to finally end it.
              All of the stories in Fungus of the Heart are fantastic reads.  Some are sweet, others are tragic but all will leave you quite satisfied in the end. Recommended.

Contains: some gore and violence

Reviewed by: Colleen Wanglund


In Sickness: Stories from a Very Dark Place by L.L. Soares and Laura Cooney

Skullvines Press,2010

New paperback 196 pages

ISBN 978-0-9799673-9-9


            Husband and wife writers L.L. Soares and Laura Cooney have teamed up for a very dark short story collection that’s sure to make the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end.  Laid out in three parts, the book opens with five short stories by Laura and then moves into six short stories by L.L.  Part three is a collaboration that is beautifully written by the couple together.  It’s all brought together by amazing cover art by Valerie Kahn-Dorato and interior artwork by Mechelle Sizemore.


Among my favorite stories by Laura Cooney in Part 1 were "Puppy Love", about Veronica who adopts an abused puppy only to train the dog to be a ferocious killer; "The Hirsute You", about a Sasquatch who hides among the bushes in a park to watch the woman he has fallen in love with; and "A Crown of Mushrooms", in which Sara meets Rasputin in the modern day—87 years after his supposed death.  "Wasps" is a creepy story about a ghost girl who leads her former friend on a deadly treasure hunt, and "Number 808" is a dark and disturbing tale about a woman who is paid to be abused by clients.


Easily my favorite story in Part 2 by L.L. Soares is "Little Black Dress", about a Halloween costume that does so much more for its wearer than just look good—and we all have our own version of the little black dress, don’t we, girls?  "Head Games" is a fantastic story about the true intelligence of a primate species that turns the tables on those who would study them; and "The NO! Place" has a horrid little twist on the safe place that an abused woman goes to while attempting to escape her tormentor. 


Part 3 is the wonderfully dark and twisted story "In Sickness" about a married couple, Maddy and Zach whose marriage has been falling apart for some time.  Zach has a mistress and thinks about killing Maddy, while Maddy is an alcoholic recluse being haunted by the ghosts of pig-children.  When things begin to spiral out of control we discover that Zach and Maddy are bonded together by some very dark secrets.  The end of this story left me reeling and wanting more. 


In Sickness is an amazing collection that should be added to your library of dark horror fiction.  Laura Cooney and L.L. Soares truly are the Bonnie and Clyde of horror.


Highly recommended

Contains adult language, violence, gore, and sexual themes

Review by Colleen Wanglung


Dark Matters by Bruce Boston, ill. by Daniele Serra

Bad Moon Books; 1ST edition, 2010
ISBN-13: 978-0984460151

Available: New


    Dark Matters is a short collection of dark poetry by Bruce Boston, accompanied by beautiful illustrations by Daniele Serra.


    Boston’s structure is often simplistic in form, but extremely complex in content. The descriptive nature of his writing creates incredible visuals that easily change every time a poem is read and reread depending on the outside environment and mindset of the reader.


     In Dark Matters, Boston explores what the world would be like if ruled by rats, or moles, or even assassins. Oh, how life would be different. He reveals the life of torturers, who learned their trade as it was passed down from generation to generation. Then there is the surreal life in Shadow City, in which shadows flee with lingering effects. The poem “Damnation Cemetery” sheds a bit of insight into what the afterlife in hell might be like.  Poem after poem, Boston exposes the reader to illogical ideas with logical explanations. I have read quite a bit of Boston’s work, and in Dark Matters he has proven yet again that he can deliver clear messages interlaced with biting truth.


Reviewed by Kelly Fann


Quill & Candle by Scott Thomas

Dark Regions Press, 2010


Available: New

Reminiscent of gothic fiction, with ghost stories similar to Henry James’s Turn of the Screw and Ambrose Bierce’s An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge, Scott Thomas’s short story compilation Quill & Candle is a refreshing read, jam-packed full of spine-tingling classic ghost stories, setting their stages in the late 1700s early 1800s New England. Before each tale, Thomas annotates the state and the year that the haunting, murder, vampire awakening, ghastly presence, or myriad of other spooky events that took place.

Thomas’s writing style is incredibly detailed and beautiful, artfully creating the mood in each of his stories immediately. He knows his landscape and he knows the time period extremely well, which gives the stories an authenticity that could easily have the reader believing these are true ghost stories having been passed down through the generations and finally put to paper. His tales are best read in dim light, with howling wind, and the sounds of the house settling. Just in time for Halloween, Quill & Candle is a delightful read that has put Scott Thomas on my radar for future personal purchases.

Highly recommended for an adult horror collection, but is easily accessible to a YA audience as well.

Reviewed by Kelly Fann




The Darkly Splendid Realm by Richard Gavin

Dark Regions Press, 2009

ISBN: 978888993738

Available: New


     The thirteen short stories in this collection by Richard Gavin are the stuff of nightmares. They are dark, gruesome and bleak, eerily reminiscent of Poe and Lovecraft. All of the stories seem to question what lies beyond our world, and Gavin uses magic and mysticism to try to give an answer.

    One of my favorite stories in the collection is “Final Night in Nevertown”, about a town that has been plagued by disappearances for thirteen straight nights. Both people and property have disappeared without a trace; there is no phone service and the town seems to have been completely cut off from the rest of the world. The town manager has decided to go into the mist that has enveloped his town in a search for answers. What he finds however is not what he expected nor wanted to see. Another favorite of mine is “Phantom Passages”, about a young man who went looking for Autumnal, a place where the old gods dwell, wrote down what appeared to be spells to open these passages which were sold to Gideon who buys and sells manuscripts. Gideon got a bit greedy and went to try to get more of these manuscripts but what he found was not what he expected.

    Other notable stories include “Getting the Strap”, about a boy who grows up in his grandmother’s house with horrible whippings as punishment which affect him in a very disturbing manner even after her death; “Following the Silent Hedges”, in which someone begins to notice the ‘other’ world in their grief after losing a spouse; “Waterburns”, about how childhood abuse creates real monsters for two girls, and “Prowling Through Throated Chambers”, in which a man goes through an old carnival attraction and is pursued by the ‘beast’ of his life through a tightening and terrifying labyrinth. Another notable story is the novella “Primeval Wood”, about a young man who inadvertently stumbles upon some very powerful magic that begins to take over his life.

    This a wonderfully scary collection that is well written and well edited. There isn’t a bad story in the bunch. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. I highly recommend The Darkly Splendid Realm to all horror fans.

Review by Colleen Wanglund


Paradigms of Suffering: Chose Your Path Wisely by Greg Dixon

Vision Given Life Press, 2010

ISBN-13: 978-0984246823

Available: New


    Choose Your Path Wisely is the latest installment of Greg Dixon’s series Paradigms of Suffering. In this volume, he has centered his stories on the act of choosing between right and wrong or good and bad.

    My favorite story is “Sex Slave”. The story takes place in a brothel in a city where human trafficking and the sex slave trade thrives, a city rich in money but poor in morality. Greed and government corruption are the rule, not the exception. Howard, an American businessman, wants a girl to use and abuse no matter what the cost. What Howard doesn’t realize is that things are not what they seem. Where will his choices bring him? Another favorite is “‘Roid Rage”, about aging pro-baseball player Mark ‘Mad Dog’ McCune who has been in a year-long slump. Mark isn’t happy at the prospect of retiring with a bad year capping off what has been a storied career. His teammate Dan takes him to a lab where a scientist has been hard at work perfecting steroids so they can be used without showing up on tests. Mark decides to take the shots and his game improves. Will Mark regret his choice?

    “Miscreant’s Metamorphosis” is a great story about a creepy man who is looking for his soul mate and thinks he has found her in Stephanie. Well, Stephanie is dead—murdered by Dennis. That hasn’t stopped Dennis from living out his fantasies with her. Dennis begins to be haunted by Stephanie and his parents who have passed on. Now he is forced to make another choice. Personally I think he gets what he deserves. “The Upside Down Hell (Drowning Part II)” tells the story of Jenna, a heroin addict and prostitute who has made bad choices all of her life. Now the police are after her for a murder she committed during her first attempted robbery. Jenna ultimately finds herself in a very bad situation that she may not be able to get out of.

    Finally there is “The Paradox of Suffering”, a fantastic story that I think could stand on its own as a novella. The story is told in five parts. Part one, “Evolution of Suffering” takes us back to Mah the caveman and his jealousy of Urgh-ah and all he has—a mate, children, the admiration of his tribe, and a warm fire. It doesn’t go well. Part two is Wayne’s story. He is only interested in making money. He hates his wife and his children and just wants to keep making money. Wayne is given the chance to examine his life and maybe learn from his past mistakes. He is sent to another dimension and a voice tells him he will be tested to determine if he can learn to make the right choices. Will Wayne pass the tests or will he continue to make the wrong choices?

    This was a great book. All five stories were well written and well edited. I highly recommend Paradigms of Suffering: Choose Your Path Wisely to any horror fan. I also recommend picking up his second in the series, Bloody Seconds. Unfortunately, I have yet to read the first, Torturous Awakenings.

Review by Colleen Wanglund



Dark Faith edited by Maurice Broaddus and Jerry Gordon

Apex Publications; 1st edition, 2010
ISBN-13: 978-0982159682

Available: New


    Dark Faith is loaded with thirty-one new stories and poems on faith and spirituality in all of its forms. I’ve always loved the marriage of faith and the horror genre, going back to books like The Sentinel by Jeffrey Konvitz and William Peter Blatty’s The Exorcist, and this anthology doesn’t disappoint.


    Among my favorite stories in the collection are “Good Enough” by Kelli Dunlap, about a relationship that goes wrong, a history of bad choices, and a serial killer who doesn’t fit the usual profile—it’s a nice twist on the Frankenstein tale; “Miz Ruthie Pays Her Respects” by Lucy A. Snyder, about a woman who decides to finally get her revenge on a respected member of the family and community; and “Ghosts of New York” by Jennifer Pelland, about a woman who keeps reliving her death in the Twin Towers, and finding others just like herself. I also thoroughly enjoyed Wrath James White’s “He Who Would Not Bow”, about a small group of people who find out they can kill God while He is on earth; Althea Kontis’ “The God of Last Moments”, about a young man who begins feeding on the power of the dead’s last moments; and Tom Piccirilli’s “Scrawl”, about an average writer who finds inspiration one night during a writers’ convention.


    Other notable stories include ”For My Next Trick I’ll Need a Volunteer” by Gary Braunbeck, about the strange trip Detective Emerson is taken on by his friend the Reverend; “A Loss for Words” by J.C. Hay, about a writer who pays a prostitute (who happens to be a Muse) to write his words all over her body; “Go Tell it on the Mountain” by Kyle S. Johnson, which tells about a man’s meeting with a hippie-like Christ just after a global apocalypse; “I Sing a New Psalm” by Brian Keene, which tells of a man who finds faith in God only to have that faith leave him again; and “First Communions” by Geoffrey Girard, a touching story about suicide, love and God. I also want to mention the beautifully dark poem “Lilith” by Rain Graves, and the opening poem, The Story of Belief-Non by Linda D. Addison, which looks at the endless possibilities of life.


    While there are always a few misses in anthologies, the bulk of the stories in Dark Faith are great reads. Maurice Broaddus and Jerry Gordon did a fantastic job of editing it all. There are many more excellent stories I didn’t mention above, so I encourage all horror fans to pick this one up—I highly recommend it.


Contains: Gore, blood and some sexual themes

Review by Colleen Wanglund



Dark Entities by David DunwoodyDark Regions Press, 2009
ISBN-13: 978-1888993653

Available: New

    Dark Entities is the first book in a series. Each book in the series focuses on the collected work of an individual author. All of the stories in this volume are by David Dunwoody, and deal with death in one way or another. Dunwoody does it well.  The foreword, by James Roy Daley (author of The Dead Parade) is creepy as hell and made me a bit uncomfortable; a very good start.  The cover art and illustrations by Thomas Moran are fantastic.

    A stand-out story for me is “Brownlee’s Blue Flame”, in which Death witnesses something never seen before. As he tries to discover its meaning, Death sees how it will inevitably affect the human race.  Another story I thoroughly enjoyed is “The Abbott and the Dragon”,  which takes a different look at the zombie apocalypse, in both how it started and where civilization, or what’s left of it, has gone.  “Birthright” takes an interesting look at Hell, the fallen angels, and demons, and “A Carrion to Wounded Souls” is a very disturbing story involving a child murderer.

    There isn’t a story here that I didn’t like.  The only complaint I do have is that as much as I enjoyed the story “Sunset”, I wish it had been a little longer.  I would have liked more insight into the how and why of the circumstances of the islanders.  Other than that I think David Dunwoody is a top notch storyteller with a vivid imagination.  I highly recommend this collection.
Review by Colleen Wanglund





Despairs & Delights by Lincoln Crisler

Arctic Wolf Publishing, 2008

ISBN: 978-0980219722

Available: New and Used

    Lincoln Crisler’s first anthology consists of ten short stories. Many contain paranormal elements and some are written as human horror, but all of them are worth reading. I found each story to be easy to read, allowing readers of all levels to enjoy this collection. “Easy to read” doesn’t mean this is a book for minors, because it is definitely not. Included within the pages of Despairs & Delights are mentions of gore, incest, and necrophilia, so it’s definitely NOT aimed at young adult. Not to name all of the stories in this book, but three in particular stood out to me.

“Lane Feeds the Multitude” is the first one I shall mention. It focuses on a “soup kitchen” that is having trouble funding their project in order to keep everyone well fed. One of the workers, Lane, gets an idea that will help everyone out, and takes it upon himself to “track down” some food.

“The Hitchhiker” was probably my favorite story out of this collection. It is about a hitchhiking werewolf, Jason, who is headed towards what he feels is his “destiny”. Most people would expect a very different destiny for a werewolf, but Jason feels strongly about his decision and has given up everything to make it happen.

“Victory Feast” is yet another fine piece by Crisler. In this story, a son is willing to make one of life’s greatest sacrifices in order to keep his secret from getting out. What is the secret and what is the great sacrifice? The answer is found within the pages of Crisler’s Despairs & Delights.

I would recommend this collection to all horror fans and especially those looking to get into horror without worrying about picking up a book containing extremely graphic sex and gore. Lincoln’s stories skirt around the graphic scenes and get right to the point. Despairs & Delights would be a welcome addition to any library collection.

Contains: Adult Situations, Adult Language

Review by Rhonda Wilson

Note: Despairs & Delights are included here due to a werewolf short story contained within as part of Werewolf month.




Intimate Strangers by Stanley Wiater

Voices in my Head Productions


Available: New

Format: Audio CD
    I was surprised by this CD. When I was younger I had found memories of A dramatic take on Stephen King's The mist adapted with all full cast and something Simon and Shuster claimed was 3D sound. I also heard a few Barker stories and done this way but this cool method of horror story telling is hardly ever used. Too bad it's kinda fun and something that i hope libraries will support.
    I was ready to dislike the project, the first story "The Toucher" was told in second person by a actor playing a young girl. Speaking in many over the top southern hick-isms. It got old really fast. I didn't enjoy the second story either which was a short creepy piece told in second person as well. So I was prepared to write off the CD altogether.
    Good thing I didn't. I did however enjoy the production and most importantly the story of the third story "The end of the line." This story builds perfectly to a neat surprise. The fourth is a longer Lovecraftian inspired tale called mystery of the word. Both of the these stories are good classic horror that deliver.  This is a a project that is perfect for libraries, a cool thing that most people most think to buy but my check out from the library.

Review by David Agranoff


Strange Vegetables by G.O. Clark

Dark Regions Press, 2009
ISBN-13: 978-1888993677

Available: New

           In this poetry collection, you will find everything from robot poets to creationist theories, with a smattering of little alien goodies, a sure sign of a speculative poet. The poetry in Strange Vegetables is simultaneously fun, lyrical, entertaining and thought-provoking. At first pass through, G.O. Clark’s poetry sparks with witty repartee. He writes as though he’s had some crazy dreams that had to be put to paper immediately upon waking. The reader who goes back through a second or even third time, will see deeper meanings.

            Poetry is often a hard sell for me, but I fell in love with Strange Vegetables almost immediately. Clark has such an incredible way with words; he is direct and to the point, and evokes an enormous array of emotions from the reader. One poem will elicit a surprising laugh, while the next will cause one to pause, reflect, and feel a sense of culpability. The poetry contained within Strange Vegetables is captivating and provocative and immediately quotable for ready listeners.
 Strange Vegetables would be right at home in a public library, but would be a better fit with readers of science fiction, rather than horror.

Review by Kelly Fann



Double Visions by Bruce Boston

Dark Regions Press, 2009
ISBN-13: 978-1888993660

Available: New

        The poems collected in Double Visions range not only in form and meter, but in subject matter and content. Bruce Boston has chosen a fantastic group of poets with whom to collaborate to create some amazingly beautiful poetry. Several of the poems contained in Double Visions have been published elsewhere, with many of these having been nominated for the Rhysling Award (a science fiction poetry award). One particular poem, “Return to the Mutant Rain Forest”, won the Odyssey Poetry Award in 1988 and Locus Online Poetry Poll in 2006. This particular poem can also be found in the Year’s Best Horror XVIII and the Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror III, both published in 1990. Double Visions also includes three original poems appearing for the first time.

          J.L. Comeau provides a lyrical and beautiful introduction for Double Visions, which captures the essence of the forthcoming poetry. However, it is rather lengthy when compared to the actual length of the book, and one particular paragraph discussing President Obama’s inauguration seems forced and out of context with the rest of the introduction. Twenty-one poems written by Boston in collaboration with other poets appear following the introduction. The poetry contained in Double Visions is haunting with hints of the bizarre, the fantastical, and the horrific, with mayhem and madness ensuing. Each reader will find their own individual hidden meanings within the poetry as it speaks to the human condition through humor, sadness, wit, and remorse. Topics range from All Hallows Eve to post-apocalyptic wastelands, and the further into the book you read, the darker and scarier the poetry becomes.

 Double Visions includes author profiles at the end of the book, a nice (and welcome) addition. The profiles are brief, only a paragraph each, but provide avenues to explore the poets’ works further, and display the breadth of experience contained within the pages of the book.

            Double Visions would make a nice addition to both a horror collection and a poetry collection in a public library.

Review by Kelly Fann



Demons and Other Inconveniences by Dan Dillard

CreateSpace 2010
ISBN 978-1452826110

Available: New

           Demons, vampires, and things that go bump in the night.  What scares you?  Is something the future may hold?  Is it a murderer of innocent children?  What about the old woman living alone down the street?  All of these and more can be found in the short stories contained in Demons and Other Inconveniences.  Dan Dillard has quite the imagination and has some great stories here.
           Some of my favorite stories in the collection include “Amber Alert”, about a child that’s gone missing in a small town, and the horrifying realization of who is actually responsible; “Unlucky in Death”, about a newly-turned vampire who faints at the sight of blood; “Never Judge a Book”, about Jack who runs into some pretty scary creatures on his walk home—this is a funny one; and “My Mind’s Eye”, about what goes through the mind of a potential killer.
           Other notable stories include “The Trash Menagerie”, which takes an interesting look at hoarding; “Pig Man”, about what a little girl sees in the middle of the night—quite terrifying; “The Demon of Walker’s Woods”, about the imaginations of a group of small-town children one summer; and “Anticipation” about someone just waiting to die at the hands of others—and the surprise of “who” it is.

There isn’t a bad story in the collection.  I look forward to reading more from Dan Dillard in the future.  I definitely recommend this one.

Contains: Mild language and violence
Review by
Colleen Wanglund




Scattered Ashes by Scott Nicholson

Dark Regions Press,2008

ISBN: 978-1888993646

Available: New and Used 

    In Scattered Ashes, Scott Nicholson presents a collection of Appalachian tales that invokes the spirit of Manly Wade Wellman. Nicholson has a lyrical quality to his prose that sets the reader on edge. His command of language and nuance is positively delicious. Through Nicholson’s mastery of pacing and carefully crafted rhythm, the reader experiences a roller coaster of emotions, culminating in a sense of cosmic dread, visceral and in-your-face, and the sort of nervous release at tale’s end that leaves you clamoring to devour more. Nicholson is at the top of his game in this exciting and spine-tingling collection. A must read. Highly Recommended

Review by Bob Freeman 



Gleefully Macabre Tales By Jeff StrandDark Regions Press, 2009

ISBN-13: 978-1888993769

Available: New

            I have very mixed feelings about this book. Let me state at the beginning, I think this is a worthwhile short story collection that should be on the shelves of any library that is serious about having a horror collection. Do you sense a a big BUT coming? I was not a huge fan of the book myself. That being said, I see clearly that Strand has put together a collection of stories will have appeal to a wide audience.
            Gleefully Macabre Tales features over 30 pieces of Jeff Strand's unique combination of horror and comedy. Comic horror is not unheard of in the horror genre: most authors lighten up their collections with one or two entirely comedic tales. This book, however, is 95% comedic horror

            I should say that I have enjoyed Strand's work before. I liked his Bram Stoker award nominated novel Pressure and I really enjoyed The Haunted Forest Tour (a novel he co-wrote). However, I generally like very, very dark books, so I chose to review this one to see if Strand's style of horror and comedy could crack my black soul. Unfortunately, I can't say this book worked for me.
            I had two favorite stories that I thought were effective horror fiction and made me laugh. Those stories were “Everything has a Purpose”, and the brutal, cringe-inducing story of testicular horror, “Mister Sensitive.” It was while reading the latter than I had the biggest belly laugh and also cringed at the pain of the main character.

            I liked that many of the stories were short, and Strand did a great job of doing many things in a short word count, which takes serious skill. Yet, there were still things that bothered me. First, Strand often chooses mean-spirited narrators for his stories, and after reading a dozen or so of these you begin to feel like you're on a Greyhound bus trip. After awhile it becomes unpleasant. Second, I don't find Strand's subject matter to be very creative. I enjoy reading stories when I am impressed by the idea behind it being out of left field and interesting. Many of the ideas in these stories seemed pedestrian- I didn't sit back in my chair and marvel “How did he think of that?” I like to read a book and be astonished that that the author's mind created this story and this universe. I really didn't get that from this book.

            I think that Gleefully Macabre Tales has a place in any library collection that is interested in having a complete horror collection. Strand is a effective writer, and despite my personal dislike for the book I can still see its appeal to other readers.

Contains: Sex, violence, sadism, drug use. 

Review by David Agranoff


Voices From The Dark by Gary William Crawford

Dark Regions Press, 2009


Available: New

            Voices From The Dark is a collection of Gary William Crawford's poetry over the last thirty years. The poems are divided into four sections: "Voices from the Divided Self", "Voices from the Shadow City", "Voices from the Phantom World", and "Voices of Death and Loss".
            The first section, "Voices from the Divided Self", is the least tied together. However, the poems are vividly written, and conjure up images of things that are often better left unimagined. There is a real darkness, a fear of madness, that runs throughout this section.

            The second section, "Voices from the Shadow City", was my favorite. Each poem is a small part of a greater story, slowly giving the reader a look into the heart of the Shadow City. The City is a dystopian world, where art, love and anything good and bright is quashed by the lawmen and the high priests. There is a Lovecraftian feel to the verses here; a hint of the dreamworlds and their denizens. Very dark and very good.

            Section three, "Voices from the Phantom World", is the most positive of the sections. Although the Phantom World is a world of ghosts, it is also a world of love and light. I don't believe it is heaven, but a bit heaven-like in it's depiction. The narrator's spirit guides us through the Phantom World as well as connecting worlds. There is a spectral beauty to be found here; a stark contrast to the Shadow City.

            The fourth and final section is "Voices Of Death And Loss". In the afterward, the author explains that these poems were inspired by the death of his lover. Sad slices of grief, these verses tug at the heart, quite powerfully. Anyone who has experienced the loss of a loved one will no doubt recognize something of themselves in many of the pages here.

            In each poem, the poetry flows easily from one verse to the next. This is a fantastic collection of poetry that  has something for any fan of dark verse. I highly recommend it for any library or private collection.

Contains: dark imagery.

Reviewed by Erik Smith



Vectors by Charlee Jacob & Marge Simon

Dark Regions Press, 2007


Available: New

            The subtitle for this poetry collection is "A Week in the Death of a Planet", and that's an apt description.  The reader follows a plague that destroys life on Earth in seven days. It starts on July 1, and covers each day of the plague through July 7.
            Some of the poems are by Ms. Jacob, some by Ms. Simon, and some written by both. Some of the poems carry the story forward, showing us the trajectory of the plague that is destroying the world, while some of the poems simply show us slice of life pictures; bits of the overall devastation. As the plague sweeps across the globe, and people become more frightened and desperate, the poetry gets darker and more terrifying.

            Personally, I found Simon's style cleaner and easier to read than Jacob's. Ms. Jacob seems to take a more "esoteric" route in her writing here. Not a bad thing, just a different style of poetry. In the poems they wrote together, no single style overshadows the other; it almost seems as if a third writer has joined in. While there were a few poems that felt like filler, the majority worked quite well at depicting a world sliding into a ruin. It is a horrifying prospect, humanity destroying humanity in one short week, and the authors pull no punches.

Vectors is not a perfect collection, but it is a collection worth reading, and worthy of library and private collections.

Contains: dark images

Reviewed by Erik Smith



When Darkness Loves Us by Elizabeth Engstrom

Apex Publications, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-9821596-6-8

Available: Used and New

            When Darkness Loves Us consists of two novellas by Elizabeth Engstrom, the first being the same title as the book itself and the other called Beauty Is, which is actually the longer of the two stories.

            The first novella, When Darkness Loves Us, tells the story of farm girl Sally Ann Hixson, who is recently married. While roaming the farm, she accidentally falls down into an underground area that had been sealed off. Sally Ann is trapped underground, her whereabouts unknown. As she adjusts to the darkness of the tunnels and creates a new way to live, Sally Ann realizes she is pregnant with child. How will she ever be able to survive down in the darkness, much less give birth to and raise a child there?

            Beauty Is tells the story of Martha Mannes, and how she is coping with her life since the death of both of her parents. Martha isn't your typical girl, as she was born with a deformity- she has no nose- and everyone in town treats her as if she is retarded. The story has flashbacks to Martha's birth and childhood, and even her parents' life prior to her birth As the story continues, Martha finds the kindness in a few townsfolk and in doing so, gains more confidence in herself. The story starts to unravel a bit at this point, as Martha starts remembering more and more about her past and how it relates to her present.

            When Darkness Loves Us and Beauty Is are both vivid in detail and beautifully written. I find myself at a loss in determining which story I actually enjoyed more as they were both so entertaining. Engstrom has a way of making readers really get to know the characters, and it almost puts you into the story as one of the extras. Wanting to know what was going to happen to the main heroine of each story made me feel compelled to turn page after page until I knew how things were to end. Strong in both characterization and dialogue, When Darkness Loves Us is a fabulous two-story collection that shouldn't be missed by any reader. It is a book that not only horror fans will enjoy, but readers from other genres as well, if they were to give it a chance. Definitely a great addition to any library collection out there!

Contains: Adult Language, Adult Situations, Sex, Violence

Review by Rhonda Wilson


The Shadows Of Kingston Mills by David B. Silva

Dark Regions Press, 2009


Available: New

            Kingston Mills. A small town slice of Americana. Everyone knows everyone, doors are left unlocked, visitors are welcome. But stay out of the shadows, and try to be inside after the sun goes down. Kingston Mills is a beautiful town, with some dark, dark secrets.

            David Silva gives us twelve snapshots of life in Kingston Mills. The stories are reminiscent of the original "Twilight Zone", or the Bradbury classic Something Wicked This Way Comes. Coming of age in a small town is a theme in many horror novels, and is represented here as well. There are many recognizable tropes of the genre here: parallel dimensions, magicians, monsters, and stories about disappearances, but there are also twists here that are quite surprising. The quiet beginnings do not prepare you for the horrific turns taken by a number of the tales in this collection. Silva writes with a master's touch, and takes these old ideas in new directions.
            This is subtle horror, with a touch of blood. There are not many happy endings here. The shadows of Kingston Mills have teeth. Some of those teeth are the human kind, like the all too human monster in "Darkness and Light"; while plenty of the teeth belong to true monsters, such as those in "The Most Painful Companion of Death" and "Love Never Lost".

One of my favorite stories in this collection is "Circle of Death", a great look at cause and effect, as we follow one person after another through the day and from life to death.

For those looking for old-fashioned horror with a modern touch, The Shadows of Kingston Mills is a fine addition to library and personal collections.

Contains: some gore, language, sexual situations.

Reviewed by Erik Smith



Resurrection House by James Chambers
Dark Regions Press, 2009

ISBN: 978-1888993691

Available: New


            Book three in Dark Regions Press’ New Voices of Horror series is Resurrection House by James Chambers.  In this collection of ten short stories, Chambers manages to turn the ordinary into something creepy, conspiracy into something scary, and history into Hell.  The cover art and interior illustrations by Jason Whitley are dark and vague and fit the mood perfectly.

            My favorite story, no surprise since I’m a raging zombie fan, is "Resurrection House", about a house that brings back the dead if they are left on the property.  A new owner brings a writer around looking to unlock the secret of the house.  What they both find is not what either one expected.   It’s a nice twist on the zombie story, with a little religious cultism thrown in for more creepiness.

            Other stand-outs include "Trick", about an old man who believes children are evil—and will leave you wondering if he was right; FIVE POINTS, about the ghosts of history and the demons that use them in the old New York immigrant neighborhood; "Vicious Swimmers", about sharks, secret government experiments, and what can really go wrong; and "The Feeding Things", an erotic tale answering the age-old question “where do baby demons come from?”

            "The Last Stand of Black Danny O'Barry" was an okay story about the California Gold Rush and ancient Chinese beliefs about the dead that I thought maybe could’ve been a bit shorter.  "Gray Gulls Gyre" was a decent story about a man afraid to die and the girl who comes to help him, but I would have liked more insight into the girl and the tattoos that gave her the ‘power’ to help him in the first place.  Overall, though, I enjoyed the book and do recommend it.

Review by Colleen Wanglund


Resurrection House by James Chambers
178 pages
Dark Regions Press
New Voices of Horror #3

I got the feeling while reading this collection of short stories that James Chambers is a big deal. Librarians, and readers as well, need to start buying his books. I know for a fact he is not devoting the time needed to bring his brand of horror out to the mainstream, but he deserves to be read.


I really loved this book. Chambers is a very balanced and creative wordsmith. In his opening stories, he captures the feeling of old school Ray Bradbury literary horror. Later, he stretches his muscles for a brutal, erotically charged Lovecraftian tale, “The Feeding Things”. There are Westerns, crime stories and more in this short but powerfully packed to the brim collection.


Chambers has a skill for evoking emotions needed in the horror field. He has fantastically intense and creative ideas, but without the balance and understanding of human emotion and motivation, that would be meaningless. James Chambers has that balance down to  a science. The title story was my personal favorite.  It is about a house that is a magnet for zombies, and the man who decides to call it home. The opening story, “Mooncat Jack”, captures childhood fear in the form of a boogeyman who stalks a neighborhood. Perhaps most effective for me was “Gray Gulls Gyre.”  The main character in that story, Jennifer Truth, is a compelling character with an interesting back story. Chambers is working on developing a novel about her, and one of the main reasons to get this collection is a chance to be ahead of the curve and read the first published short story about a character who I think has a great chance to become a popular character in dark fiction.


Avid horror readers will enjoy this collection. Libraries who are serious about stocking the new talent of the next generation of horror masters should find a good spot for this one.

Review by David Agranoff





The First by Scott Nicholson

Ghostwriter Publications, 2009
ISBN-13: 978-1907190056

Available: Kindle only


           The First is a short story collection by Scott Nicholson, containing stories written in the first ten years of his writing career.  There are stories of the weird and fantastic and stories of how the mind can play tricks on us—or how maybe the mind knows more than we think it does.  There are stories of a future dystopian world, where the universe is controlled from afar by a totalitarian committee that has banished religion in the name of science.  All of the stories are well-written and will leave you wanting more, so check out Scott Nicholson’s other two collections.

            Easily my favorite stories are the four Areopagan tales.  In a future world reminiscent of 1984, Blade Runner, and Farenheit 451 Nicholson introduces us to a society controlled by a distant group of autocrats, where time is a commodity that has replaced money, and religion has been outlawed in favor of all things scientific.  Space flight is routine and other worlds have fallen for the good of the “whole”.  "Tellers" is about how time has become a form of payment and emotion a drug to get high from.  "Angelorum Orbis" tells about the dominant role of science in this society, which seeks to assimilate all peoples and their knowledge while eliminating any hint of spirituality.  "The Shaping" tells of an "Akademeia" where children learn the performing arts but are destroyed if their work is not considered perfection.  Finally, in "Socketful of Blather",poetry and beauty have been banned, but even the machines are starting to rebel against the elimination of what makes us human. 

            Other stories include "Beggar's Velvet", about a young woman who sees her nightmare manifesting itself out of the dust bunnies under the bed; "Heal Thyself", about past life regression therapy; "Dumb Luck", which looks at what really happens when you ignore those chain letters in the mail; "When You Wear These Shoes", which tells about a unique pair of shoes bought in a thrift store; and "Must See to Appreciate" about a man trying to sell a house that is haunted, but with an amazing twist.  There is also some great bonus material here, including an essay on writing and a short story, "The Shifting Sands of Memory".  This is a great collection from Scott Nicholson that I would recommend to anyone, along with Ashes and Flowers.

Contains: Minor Violence 

Review by Colleen Wanglund


Flowers by Scott Nicholson

Haunted Computer Books, 2010


Available: Kindle only


            Flowers is the e-book re-release of Scott Nicholson's short story collection Thank You For the Flowers.  Scott Nicholson writes beautifully about the paranormal, the dead, and the bizarre, and the people who come in contact with it all.  There are ghost stories that aren’t just creepy, but sad as well.  There are twisted little stories about aspiring writers and the stories they tell.  There are even stories that will make you wonder about nature and how it really works. 

            First among my favorites is "Skin". In this story, Roger, badly burned in a fire, complains that everyone wants something from him—usually money—including his doctors.  Through an old wives' tale from his grandmother, Roger learns what it really means to have something that someone else wants.  Another favorite is "Do You Know Me Yet?", about a man in an institution who believes that the ideas for all horror novels comes from him and others are stealing his ideas telepathically.  "Homecoming" is a sad story of an old farming couple who lost their only child to an accident some years earlier.  Ghosts visit the woman every night and she hopes they will take her to see her dead son.  "Haunted"  is the story of a couple and their daughter in 1960’s suburbia who seem to be plagued by ghosts on a nightly basis, but there’s a twist.

            Other stories include "The Vampire Shortstop", about a vampire boy who plays Little League baseball and the man who is his coach; "Dead Air", the story of an overnight radio DJ who gets a call one night from a woman who may have killed someone; "The Three Dollar Corpse," which takes place among the horrors of the Civil War prison at Andersonville (and the flip side to "The Endless Bivouac", which appears in the collection Scattered Ashes); and "The Boy Who Saw Fire", about a sickly boy who dreams about the world ending in fire, only to find out there’s a very good explanation for this.  Once again, Scott Nicholson writes wonderfully creepy tales of love and loss and things we’d rather not know about.  There is also bonus material, including the first short story Scott ever wrote called "Everything Equals Nothing", and chapter one of his first novel The Red Church.

Also available in print as Thank You For the Flowers.

Contains: Minor Violence

Review by Colleen Wanglund




Ashes by Scott Nicholson

Haunted Computer Books, 2010


Available: Kindle only

            Ashes is the e-book edition of Scott Nicholson’s short story collection Scattered Ashes.  In nearly every story, the spectre of death is there in all of its creepy, and sometimes paranormal, forms.  From a Civil War soldier at Andersonville prison, to a German soldier during WWII, zombies, and the pets we love and that love us unconditionally, you will get chills reading these stories.

            One of my favorite stories, probably because of my love of muscle cars, is "Timing Chains of the Heart", in which J.D. hits and kills a girl in his 1969 Camaro, late one night on an empty stretch of road; he places the girl’s body in the trunk of his car, and the girl’s body seems to become possessed by the soul of the Camaro.  Another favorite of mine is "The Meek", about sheep-zombies in frontier Australia that feed on people, and what the people who have survived are doing to continue their survival.  "The Weight of Silence" is a disturbing story about a couple who lost their daughter to what seemed to be Sudden Infant Death Syndrome—the baby’s father looks suspicious to the grieving mother, but appearances are deceiving.  "The Hounds of Love" tells the story of Dexter, a boy who is abused by his mother.  He tortures small animals and is determined never to love anyone or anything; through an odd occurrence one Halloween night, Dexter learns the meaning of unconditional love.  One more favorite of mine is "The Night is an Ally", that tells of a small unit of German reserve police that are ordered to round up and exterminate Jews in a Polish ghetto.  While there is a small paranormal element, what happens to the Jews is horror enough.

            Other notable stories include "Watermelon", about a man whose life seems to eerily mimic that of a man who murders his wife; "Murdermouth". about a zombie who perceives his hunger for flesh as love; "Last Writes", about a writer who takes a job as a lighthouse keeper for a year and meets someone who becomes the subject of his writings; "Dog Person", which tells the story of a man who loves his dying dog so much he can’t live without her; and "Penance", an apocalyptic story about a disease with no cure, and the President, who is trying to keep what’s left of society together.  There is a great introduction written by Jonathan Maberry, and the author’s own explanation for these stories and why he did the collection, titled "From the Ashes".

            Scott Nicholson has a way of telling a story so thoroughly that you’d think he experienced it all himself!  He is a wonderful storyteller and this is an excellent collection, which I highly recommend to horror fans of all ages.

Note: Also available in print as Scattered Ashes, published by Dark Regions Press.

Contains: mild violence. 

Review by Colleen Wanglund


Skull Full of Kisses by Michael West
Graveside Tales, 2010
ISBN:  978-0980133882
Available:  Used and New

        Skull Full of Kisses collects a wide range of horror stories written by Michael West.  Many are re-issues of stories printed in magazines and other anthologies, but there are a few new surprises in store as well.  I hadn't had the pleasure of reading anything by West prior to this, so I was introduced to the wide array of his talents.  Each story is a new adventure, and West pulls in many outside influences.  One example of this is in the story "Jiki", where West's love of Asian horror is expressed in the way he twists the methods of the mob.  Another favorite of mine within this anthology was "God Like Me", where a man is unhappy with his life, but soon realizes he has some amazing powers that prove very useful to him.  Both of the above mentioned stories, as well as the others in this collection, contain drama, terror, and depth.  The stories are easy reads, but they make you think, and some even touch close to home.  One story that personally touched me was the final segment of this book, "Goodnight".  In this story a young boy has lost his mother, and the spirit of his great-grandfather pays him a visit in order to explain to him about death.  "Goodnight" is extremely touching, and, though I'm not a seven-year-old boy like the one in this tale, it made me think more about death and how to face it, as I recently lost someone close to me.  West has proven he can bring forth emotions of the reader and to me, that is a sign of a great author!  I will definitely be reading more by West in the future and would recommend that all horror fans give him a try.  This collection would be a great addition to the horror section of all libraries, as with such a variety of stories included, anyone that picks up this book should find something they enjoy.

Disappearing Act (Introduction by Gary Braunbeck)
The Bridge
Dogs of War
Einstein's Slingshot
God Like Me
To Know How to See
For Her

Contains:  Adult Language, Adult Situations, Sex
Review by Rhonda Wilson




When the Night Comes Down edited by Bill Breedlove
Dark Arts Books, 2010
ISBN:  978-0977968657
Available:  New

Sixth in the Dark Arts Books anthology series, When the Night Comes Down allows readers to take a peek into the writing styles of four talented authors:  Joseph D'Lacey; Bev Vincent; Robert E. Weinberg; and Nate Kenyon.  Within the collected stories, any horror reader should find at least one they truly enjoy, and many will find several.  I had at least one favorite by each of the included authors.  Joseph D'Lacey's "The Unwrapping of Alastair Perry" details a time in Alastair's life during which he peels off the layers of his skin in order to morph into other lifeforms and experience things that these other beings (whether a person of the opposite sex, reptilian creature, etc...) would experience.  In "Knock 'Em Dead", Bev Vincent takes readers into the life of an author that feels his booksignings must be cursed, as, at each one, someone ends up dying.  Another great Vincent story in this collection is "Something In Store", where a bookstore manages to "come to life" as it expands due to the owners' desires.  Robert E. Weinberg's "Elevator Girls" makes convention attendees think twice about entering an elevator with an attractive looking girl, as his "elevator girls" have a bit more going for them beyond good looks and seductive appeal.  Nate Kenyon puts a new twist on the tiresome zombie stories in "Gravedigger".  A couple of young guys have found that dead bodies are a good way to smuggle drugs; however, they hadn't expected that the drugs might have some ill-wanted effects on the corpses they had used.  These are just a handful of the great stories that I enjoyed in When the Night Comes Down,and based on what kinds of subgenres readers enjoy, many will have differing favorites.  This collection, along with all of the Dark Arts Books anthologies, is a great way for readers to discover new voices in the horror industry.  Many anthologies only allow readers to get a glimpse of an author, with only one story by each author, or are collected works of a particular author. Unlike these anthologies, each author gets his own section to showcase several offerings. What John Everson and Bill Breedlove have created with this publishing company is a much different approach, giving each author an opportunity to shine as they introduce readers to their various writing styles through the inclusion of multiple stories.  I would recommend this collection as well as any of the other books in Dark Arts' line of books to all horror fans and feel they would make a great addition to all libraries.


Bill Breedlove -
Powered By Brains (introduction)

Joseph D'Lacey -
The Unwrapping of Alastair Perry
Etoile's Tree
Morag's Fungus
The Quiet Ones

Bev Vincent -
Silvery Moon
Knock 'Em Dead
Something In Store
Purgatory Noir

Robert E. Weinberg -
Elebator Girls
The One Answer That Really Matters

Nate Kenyon -
Breeding the Demons
One With the Music
The Buzz of a Thousand Wings

Contains:  Adult Language, Adult Situations, Mild Gore, Violence

Review by Rhonda Wilson


In Concert: The Collected Speculative Fiction of Steve Rasnic Tem and Melanie Tem by Steve Rasnic Tem and Melanie Tem

Centipede Press, 2010

ISBN: 9781933618562

Available: Pre-order(July, 2010)

        I had read interviews with Melanie Tem before reading this collection but went into it completely blind. The Tems are a married couple who have racked up Bram Stoker awards and various fantasy nominations and awards on their own, so it stands to reason that a collection of their short fiction co-authored together would be high quality. It is high quality.

        The subtitle on the book leads one to believe that the stories are going to be weighted towards science fiction, but the majority are firmly in the horror genre. The stories appear in the collection in chronological order, by date of publication. Each one is tightly crafted, so it is clear that the Tems were in full command of their combined talent early on.

        To me the best story of the collection is "More Than Should be Asked". This story about a "bad penny" child takes creepy to a disturbing peak. Other interesting stories include the vampire story "The Tenth Scholar", the opening story "Prosthesis", and "Lost", a very interesting tale set in the West.

        This is a fantastic collection of dark fiction. Libraries that are serious about horror and science fiction will do their members a favor by having this book and putting it out where it can be seen. The only drawback I can see is the $65 price tag, since you could get five genre books for that price in trade paperback, many of equal quality. That being said, I think this book is an important entry in the genre of dark fiction. Highly Recommended.

Contains: Violence, sexuality and drugs

Review by David Agranoff


The Anthology of Dark Wisdom edited by William Jones

Elder Signs Press,2009

ISBN: 9781934501146

Available: New

        The short story market for young horror writers is pretty bad. One of the few magazines over the last decade that has consistently published quality shorts that give a boost to young writers as well as big names in the field has been the "Dark Wisdom". It is too bad, but the print magazine appears to have ceased publication. It will continue online and become a series of annual anthologies, starting with this volume. A few of the stories are reprints. This is fine, since each and every one is high quality.
        Elder Signs Press is off to a great start. They have launched the book with a bizarre and effective character story, "Woman in the Dark", by Tom Piccirilli, author of the southern Gothic classic Choir of Ill Children. The book contains some of the biggest names in the genre- Peter Straub, John Shirley, and Alan Dean Foster- but it also contains work from new and upcoming writers such as Tim Curran, David Niall Wilson and Gene O'Neill.
        "Dark Wisdom" started as a magazine of Lovecraftian fiction and has a focus on darker science fiction. The strongest tales of the book were "Technotriptych", written by John Shirley, and "Please Stand By", a story with a "Twilight Zone" feel, by Tim Curran . Shirley's brutal and effective science fiction story is a fantastic political commentary on the potential negative impact technology could have on our lives. David Niall Wilson and Patricia Lee Macomber have an interesting tale about Edgar Allen Poe. I also loved Gene O'Neill's paranoid tale "G".
         Elder Signs Press has already published some very strong anthologies, including Hardboiled Cthulu and and the Horrors Beyond books. It is a press with a fine sense of dark literature, and any library would do itself a favor to order deep from their catalog and follow their releases. This book is a great starting point.

Review by David Agranoff


In the Closet, Under the Bed by Lee Thomas
Dark Scribe Press, 2009
ISBN:  978-0-9818632-1-4
Available:  New and Used

    Lee Thomas' latest horror anthology, In the Closet, Under the Bed, contains fifteen short stories. Six had been printed before, but were new to me.  As David Thomas Lord mentions in the foreward of this collection, the title plays a bit on two things... one, the "monster in the closet", or "boogeyman" as many people call it and two, the fact that many people keep certain aspects of themselves hidden in the closet.  The most obvious example of this is dealing with one's sexuality, as some people are afraid to "come out of the closet" due to the fear of how they will be accepted in society, and especially by their own family and friends.  Thomas provides us with numerous examples of this, as well as many other horrors that everyday people face.  Several stories in this collection stood out to me- they were all extremely dark and lyrical, and deeply meaningful.  "All the Faces Change" tells the tale of Tim, who runs into an old high school buddy, who he once shared a kiss with.  Tim has hidden this fact and his feelings regarding it, and moved on with his life.  However, after this "chance meeting" with his old friend, he now realizes that as much as he tries to hide his true self due to fear, it will always be a part of him.  "The Good and Gone" provides us with a glimpse into the hospitalized Max Evans, who is not allowed to get out of bed.  While lying in the hospital bored, he decides to play a childhood game his grandma taught him called 'The Good and Gone'.  The game allows him to shut his eyes and while concentrating, allows him to "leave his body" and go visit other areas.  In doing so, he manages to follow a Mr. Gohling back to his house and gets trapped inside only to discover the horrors going on within said house.  Thomas mixes in also several stories tied to internet dating.  My favorite of these titles was "Crack Smokin' Grandpa", not only for a  catchy title, but also because it explores how hard it is to know whether you are actually meeting the person one says they are at the other end of the computer or if said person is actually taking on another's identity.  This seems to be one of the scariest things out there in today's society. I've only mentioned a few choice stories from this collection, but all were enjoyable for one reason or another, and will truly make the reader think deeply while immersed in each story.  I highly recommend this book to any library collection as it is a great addition, especially for those that are trying to expand their gay fiction as this would be included within the sub-genre, gay horror fiction.

    * Foreword by David Thomas Lord
    * All the Faces Change
    * An Apiary of White Bees
    * Healer
    * Dislocation
    * They Would Say She Danced
    * Shelter
    * The Good and Gone
    * Appetite of the Cyber Tribes
    * Crack Smokin’ Grandpa
    * Anthem of the Estranged
    * I Know You’re There
    * Down to Sleep
    * I’m Your Violence
    * Tears to Rust
    * The Tattered Boy
    * Afterword by Michael Rowe

Contains:  Adult Language, Adult Situations, Violence, Gay Themes
Review by Rhonda Wilson



Hopeful Monsters by Jenny Ashford
Createspace, 2009

ISBN: 9781449508104

Available: New


        Jenny Ashford's collection of 17 short stories hits on everything horror. Death cults; vengeful, sex-crazed ghosts; human-like creatures with an agenda; wives who undergo metamorphosis; husbands who dream of murder; justice-seeking Egyptian gods; and physically and emotionally tortured vampires. You name it, Ashford has thought of it, twisted it, darkened it, and written it down.
        Hopeful Monsters contains elements of all the classic horror tales, but Ashford takes theses classic themes, cuts them all up, mixes in some warped thoughts of her own and makes them truly unique. She pushes her readers down many dark roads at an amazing clip and sets the mind spinning. As can be said for most horror short stories, there is a lot of action and violence packed into just a few short pages. The constricted length of the tales effectively creates some very intense environments.
        Hopeful Monsters is perfect for uncertain readers who are new to horror, or for horror fans looking for something a bit different.
Contains: Strong sexual content, sexual violence, adult situations.
Review by Kelly Fann



The Bitter End: Tales Of Nautical Terror edited by Jessy Marie Roberts

Pill Hill Press, 2009




        Are you afraid of the water? Does the thought of going out on a boat make you feel sick? Well, reading The Bitter End isn't going to make you feel any better. Jessy Marie Roberts has collected 26 terrifying tales that take place on and around the water. Here you will find sharks and sirens, vikings and vampires, tales of the past, present and future. This collection starts with a Lovecraftian story of sub-human horror and just keeps on going into the deepest reaches of fear. Highlights include "The Revel" by Allen Wise, a homage to Lovecraft with quite a chilling ending; "Deadliest Cachalot" by Jameson T. Caine, in which whales and crabs get mad and get even; "Between The Devil And The Deep" by Sam Battrick, the tale of a very special cruise for a clientele with a taste for human flesh; and "Last One Standing" by Anthony Giangregorio, in which lifeboat passengers are murdered one by one.

     There are plenty more great stories in this collection, quite a few taking place on lifeboats. Fortunately, each lifeboat story is unique, with the similar set-up leading to different narratives. And, as I'm a sucker for giant/killer animal stories, I was thrilled by many of the beasties causing havoc for poor, unsuspecting boaters. Overall, The Bitter End is a fine collection with stories from established authors and newcomers alike. Recommended.


Contains: Strong language and graphic violence.


Reviewed by Erik Smith





The Bleeding Edge edited by William F Nolan and Jason V. Brock
Cycatrix Press and Dark Discoveries Publications, 2010

Available: New

    It only takes a short conversation with this book's editing team Jason V. Brock (of Dark Discoveries magazine) and William F. Nolan (Logan's Run and Dark Universe) to know they put a ton of work into this anthology. It's been a long time since an anthology had such a treasure trove of authors involved. Ray Bradbury, Richard Matheson (both father and son), Joe R. Lansdale, Dan O' Bannon, and Gary Braunbeck are all contributors. More importantly for me, The Bleeding Edge includes personal favorites John Shirley, Lisa Morton and Cody Goodfellow. In the horror underground, rumors of well-known authors in the field being turned down and rigorous editing cuts only helped to create a buzz for this release.
    As I opened this beautifully laid-out and packaged limited-edition book I was worried it could not live up to the hype. The sheer presence of Ray Bradbury and Richard Matheson raises eyebrows. These are not reprints, so the excitement level is justified. One reason the editors were able to collect works from names of this high stature was that they did not limit the collection to prose. The book also includes screenplays (an excerpt from O'Bannon's Omnivore), plays (Matheson's Mardi-gall), teleplays from George Clayton Johnson and Norman Cowin, and an essay by Frank M. Robinson. The diversity in form is interesting and I enjoyed it.
    I'll be honest with you, the Bradbury story is to me the weakest story in the book. I know how hard it is to believe, but although this story may be unpublished, it is not exactly a new story. "Some of My Best Friends are Martians" is a politically charged piece about interracial dating that he wrote in the 50's. At this point, the story's only value is as a relic showing how far we have come. I know Bradbury is one of the greatest living legends in the field, but as opener it didn't do much for me.
    Luckily, the following story, "Just a Suggestion", by John Shirley (author of Demons and Bleak History) is a fantastic ghost story about a haunting at a Costco. John Shirley is my favorite author and it is no surprise that his story is at the top of my list. Next behind it for best of the collection would be Joe R. Lansdale's short but effective "The Boy who Became Invisible", which is both disturbing and evocative in only a few pages. Some of the shortest stories are the most effective- a case in point is co-editor William F. Nolan's short but touching piece.
    There are many stories I consider highlights. Ironically, these are written mainly by the younger voices. Nancy Kilpatrick's Goth erotica tale "Hope and the Maiden", Lisa Morton's "Silk City", and Cody Goodfellow's super bizarro "At the Riding School." were among my favorites. 
    The Bleeding Edge does live up to its hype. It has the kind of high quality that doesn't happen every day in our field. It presents a cross section of styles and forms, and best of all, its authors stretch through several generations of horror writing. Packaged with beautiful art, and laid-out with a reader friendly system of pictures and bios at the end of the stories, this book is not to be missed. It is a great job by Brock and Nolan, and I can't wait for the follow-up they have already promised.

Review by David Agranoff


Coach's Midnight Diner #1: Jesus vs. Cthulu Edition edited by Coach Culbertson

ccPublishing NFP, 2007

Available: New


Coach's Midnight Diner #2: Back from the Dead edited by Coach Culbertson

ccPublishing NFP, 2009
ISBN: 978-0979228421

 Available: New


    Coach’s Midnight Diner, volumes 1 and 2, are anthologies of Christian horror fiction. The books are large in size, meaning they are even longer than the page count makes it look.

Although some people think the idea of Christian horror is strange, I don’t have a problem with it. A lot of the biggest names in horror are Christians. Even Stephen King has written Christian-themed novels. My point is, I could have liked this book.

    Unfortunately, I can't say that I do. Volume one of Coach's Midnight Diner has huge structural problems. The diner theme is a dead horse that gets beaten, and beaten. As a militant vegan I hate that analogy, but I have to stress it here. Every space in the book free of a story has a ridiculous use of diner lingo, from the back cover to the author and editor bios. I actually could have started off this review with “Editor Coach Culbertson serves 17 hot steaming cups of prose coffee with a side of Christian commentary served a la carte”.

There is also a problem with the theme of the first volume of Coach’s Midnight Diner, Jesus vs. Cthulu.  The problem here is that all the writers are on the J-team. I think Chris Mikesell's story “In R'lyeh, Jesus walks” was supposed to be funny but I was just yawning. For a book with that theme to be interesting to me you would have to have just as many writers who love and hate Jesus, writers who follow him and those who don't believe.

    Third, the majority of the writers in the first volume do not have experience in writing in the horror genre, and in subtle ways that inexperience with the genre flows through most of the stories. Only two stories in collection really rose above the pile for me, and sure enough, when I read the bios at the end, they had been written by the two authors with the most horror experience.

    Many of the stories are just a bit too long.. Even stories like “Bavel” by Jen Rushing that are interesting at first, drag on. The stories also come off as preachy. Some Christians of course may enjoy this. I myself am fundamentalist on a different issue, Veganism. I understand the desire to push the message. I have worked hard with my own fiction to make any (if there is one) political message subtle. It is better to do it with subtext. On the cover of the second volume, it says this is fiction with a Christian slant. I think that is an understatement.

    Kevin Lucia's tale “Way Station” was the editor's choice as favorite story, and with good reason. While still a few pages too long, it is a great story that involves a down on his luck sci-fi writer, Jesus, and Cthulhu. My favorite in the collection was Neil A. Riebe's horror western tale “Work and Worship”, which takes place on a wagon train.

The second volume is an improvement, no doubt. The diner analogies are toned down in this volume, and this time the book is filled with stories by authors who have credibility in the horror genre. It’s not that “name authors” are necessary to make a collection, I just want to read stories by authors familiar with the field. The highlights in my opinion are “Running Towards Eden” by Jason Brannon and “Fields of Blood” by Kim Paffenroth. All around, the second edition is a better package.

    I think libraries serving a large Christian population would see these collections as a must. For most libraries, though, it is a matter of how complete you want your horror collection to be.



Teatro Grottesco by Thomas Ligotti

Virgin Books Ltd. 2008

ISBN 10: 0-7535-1374-9

Available: New


             Teatro Grottesco is a short story collection from horror author Thomas Ligotti.  It is arranged in three different sections, encompassing stories portraying dark and bleak locales, with strange and disturbed characters.  These are Thomas Ligotti’s visions of torment, helplessness, and doom.  Reminiscent of Edgar Allen Poe, there are no happy endings here.

            My favorite story in the collection is "The Bungalow House", about a library employee that visits a hole-in-the-wall art gallery on his daily lunch break, and one day finds a performance-art audiotape that greatly appeals to him.  He wants to own the tape and know everything he can about the artist who shares his vision of “the icy bleakness of things”.  Subsequent tapes arrive that seem to mirror our character’s views of life, and he becomes obsessed with finding out who the artist is and owning the tapes. 

            Another favorite of mine is called "Severini", about an artist who has heard about a man that seems to be influencing other artists; he wishes to know more about the man, but doesn’t want to actually meet him until he is invited to an art show at this man Severini’s shack in the woods.  The story takes a weird turn to the schizophrenic, with hints of murder and therapy.  Both stories are in the last section of the book, titled "The Damaged and the Diseased".   One other standout for me was the story "The Clown Puppet", in the first section, "Derangements".  It tells the story of a man who experiences regular visits from a puppet, for no apparent reason.  It was an extremely creepy story.  Lastly, I liked "The Red Tower", in the same section, about a factory that churned out increasingly grotesque toys, of a sort.   Two stories that showed promise were "My Case for Retributive Action" and "Our Temporary Supervisor". These revolve around the same place, same company, and similar circumstances, where everyone seems to be stuck.  I think the stories make an excellent point about the rampant use of pharmaceuticals, but they were far too repetitive in their telling. Other stories, including "The Shadow", "The Darkness", "Sideshow, and Other Stories", "Teatro Grottesco", and "Gas Station Carnival", had really good elements to them, but were repetitive and sometimes confusing. Overall, Teatro Grottesco is a good, if uneven, collection.

Review by Colleen Wanglund




Vile Things: Extreme Deviations of Horror edited by Cheryl Mullenax

Comet Press, 2009


Available: New


    Vile Things is one of the stronger horror anthologies I have come across in some time, its theme literally appears to be centered around creatures, topics, or situations that are so vile it would send a shiver down your spine. It includes stories from both established and newer horror authors, and some of the stories are more extreme than the usual fare.  The standout story of the collection is Tim Curran’s "The Maggots", the tragic tale of a soldier during Napoleon's disastrous attempt to invade Russia.   While there are a variety of stories, a few seem to have a the common theme along the theme of something taking over or taking control from within, in particular "The Fungoid", "The Maggots", and "The Worm".  Most frustrating of the collection was C. Dennis Moore’s "The Caterpillar", in which a distant, out-of-work cousin finds himself living with a young gir deformed by thalidomide. Moore sucked me into his story but left me wanting more at the end.   There is a story for almost everyone’s tastes, from a Lovecraftian tale by C.J. Henderson to Z.F. Kilgore’s take on The Jersey Devil.  Finally, the "The Worm" that just didn’t do anything for me and actually found not to be horrifying in anyway just plain repulsive.             
    Librarians may want to note that the cover art and title may turn off potential readers that might otherwise enjoy some stories within.   Regular horror genre readers won't have a problem picking up Vile Things but casual browsers would probably take a pass which is a shame because there is some wonderful writing within.   I would say that while there are definitely some stronger and gorier stories in this collection than in other horror anthologies, Vile Things offers some excellent horror tales and is highly recommended for public libraries.
Table of Contents:

The Fisherman by Brian Rosenberger

Fungoid by Randy Chandler

Tenant's Rights by Sean Logan

Again by Ramsey Campbell

Maggots by Tim Curran

Going Green by Stefan Pearson

Coquettrice by Angel Leigh McCoy

The Fear in the Waiting by C.J. Henderson

 The Worm by John Bruni

 Sepsis by Graham Masterton

 What You Wish For by Garry Bushell

 The Devil Lives in Jersey by Z.F. Kilgore

 Rat King by Jeffrey Thomas

 The Caterpillar by C. Dennis Moore

 Poor Brother Ed or The Man Who Visited by Ralph Greco, Jr.


Contains: Incest, gore, cannibalism, violence.




The Death Panel: Murder, Mayhem, And Madness edited by Cheryl Mullenax

Comet Press, 2009


Available: New


    Not all of the stories in The Death Panel are horror, but they are all good. This is more of a hard boiled crime anthology, with some hard boiled horror thrown in the mix. I happen to be a fan of both genres, so I enjoyed the mix of private eyes, dirty cops, gangsters and the occasional monster. With a mix of favorite authors and those who are new to me, the stories range from straight up noir to supernatural crime. Favorites include: "Blood Sacrifices & The Catatonic Kid" by Tom Piccirilli, in which two residents break out of a mental hospital, with violent results. "The Neighbor" by Brandon Ford, asks "What happens when a lonely "trailer" wife thinks her neighbor is a serial killer? Do you really want to know?" In Fred Venturini's story "Detail", an ex-cop runs a discreet auto detailing business, and keeps secret files on his customers. When he meets a beautiful woman in trouble, his life gets out of control. John Everson's "The Mouth" is the story of a sadistic sex freak, always looking for a new thrill, who is pointed towards a girl known only as "The Mouth". This one is not for the easily offended. "Nine Cops Killed For A Goldfish Cracker" by David James Keaton is difficult to describe. It's a bizarre story of a man who needs to pay the rent, a goldfish with a thousand dollars in it's stomach, and all the cops who get in the way. I could go on and on, talking about Tim Curran, Kelly M. Hudson, Simon Wood, and the rest, but you should read these gems for yourself. If you are a horror fan who wants to expand your horizons, I highly recommend picking up The Death Panel.


Contains: Sex, Violence, Strong Language and Gore


Table Of Contents:

Lipstick Swastika by Randy Chandler

Blood Sacrifices & The Catatonic Kid by Tom Piccirilli

What Makes An Angel Cry by Kelly M. Hudson

The Neighbor by Brandon Ford

The Name Game by Scott Nicholson

Fly By Night by Tim Curran

Detail by Fred Venturini

Parental Guidance by Simon Wood

Rindelstein's Monsters by David Tallerman

The Hooker In The Back Seat by Erik Williams

The Mouth by John Everson

Nine Cops Killed For A Goldfish Cracker by David James Keaton

Board The House Up by Zach Sherwood

Review by Erik Smith


Silent Weapons for Quiet Wars by Cody Goodfellow
Swallowdown Press, 2009

ISBN: 9781933929026 

Available: New


    Few horror writers in our generation have received the kind of admiration that Cody Goodfellow has. It is hard to describe Goodfellow's writing without sounding over the top or hyperbolic. This is intelligent horror fictions for adults, Lovecraftian but with a modern hard rock feel.

     Silent Weapons for Quiet Wars has 15 short stories, an introduction by Cody's writing partner, splatterpunk legend John Skipp, and an afterword by Swallowdown Press master of ceremonies and Bram Stoker award-nominated Jeremy Robert Johnson. The collection is grounded in southern California the same way Stephen King collections are grounded in Maine. The sunshine doesn't dull the horrific settings. Instead, it gives each story a warm, brown, dusty feeling. At least four times I read a story and thought, "oh yeah, this is the best of the collection". As the stories tick away, the quality never wavers. I might have to agree with Skipp's introduction that "The Magna Mater" is the best classical horror story here. It is a perfectly written Twilight Zone-style classic that just happens to be about a coin operated video porn booth. "El Santero" is a great story set on the nastiest border crossing in the world, "Drop of Ruby" is a re-animator style mad scientist tale, and "In His Wake" is a great tale of goth stardom gone bad and is among my favorites. Not to mention a clever "about the author" at the end.

    Goodfellow's fiction has the otherworld -ness of Lovecraft, the sarcasm of Joe R. Lansdale, and the mojo of a Motley Crue tell-all. Best of all, it's wrapped together with prose that would satisfy fans of high literature in horror. The cult of Cody is mostly in the horror underground but if you're a hip librarian, put this in your collection. It's one of the best horror releases of the year.

 Contains:Violence, Drug-use, sexuality

Review by David Agranoff


Harlan County Horrors edited by Mari Adkins

Apex Publications LLC, 2009


Available: New


     The history of Harlan County, Kentucky is a history full of blood and violence. From union disputes to mining disasters, there is a dark aspect to this beautiful area of the country. Twelve of today’s brightest voices in horror look directly into that darkness and bring back stories both lovely and haunting. After reading these tales, you will feel as if you have seen the mountains and forests of the county for yourself. You will feel sympathy for some residents, and disgust for others.


Highlights include:


"The Power Of Moonlight" by Debbie Kuhn, a tale of love, loss and what one young woman does to see her lover one last time.

"Yellow Warblers" by Jason Sizemore. What happens when an isolated community is invaded by the outside world?  Sizemore tells us. And it ain't pretty.

"The Thing At The Side Of The Road" by Ronald Kelly. Straight up monster fun.

"The Witch Of Black Mountain" by Alethea Kontis, a perfect bookend to Debbie Kuhn's story: a tale of love, loss and what one young woman does for revenge.


    I could go on and on, raving about the stories by Geoffrey Girard, Jeremy C. Shipp, Robby Sparks, Maurice Broaddus, and the rest, but you should pick up the book and discover the wonders and terrors for yourself. The only story that doesn't quite fit is "Hiding Mountain:Our Future In Apples" by Earl P. Dean, a fine tale that just seems a little too "bizarro" for this collection.


Overall, Harlan County Horrors is a delightful collection of miners and monsters, lovers and losers, majestic scenery and dark, dangerous holes boring into the ground and into the unknown. Highly recommended for all collections.


Table of contents:

"Introduction" by Mari Adkins

"The Power Of Moonlight" by Debbie Kuhn

"Hiding Mountain:Our Future In Apples" by Earl P. Dean

"Psychomachia" byGeoffery Girard

"Yellow Warblers" by Jason Sizemore

"Kingdom Come" y Jeremy C. Shipp

"Trouble Among The yearlings" by Maurice Broaddus

"Spirit Fire by Robby Sparks

"The Thing At The ide Of The Road" by Ronald Kelly

"Inheritance" by Stephanie Lenz

"Greater Of Two Evils" by Steven L. Shrewsbury

"Harlan Moon" by TL Trevaskis

"The Witch Of Black Mountain" by Alethea Kontis

"A History Of Harlan,KY" by Preston Halcomb


Contains: Violence, gore, sex and strong language.

Review by Erik Smith


Smells Like Fish by Trever Palmer

Snuff Books, 2009




    Have you ever finished a meal and, though you are full, you aren't quite satisfied? That is the feeling I had after finishing Smells Like Fish. The six stories of hardcore horror certainly deliver the blood, guts and perversion, but left me thinking that something is missing. While there are plenty of misogynists, racists, and sexual deviants, there aren't too many characters that are relatable, or even likable. I like to see a scumbag get what's coming to him as much as the next reader, but I need a character or two that I can connect with.


    One of the standout stories is "TCB" which, without giving too much away, features an aging rock star and a president who is jealous of said star’s success. This is the lightest and least graphic of the tales.


    The last two stories, "The Spaceman's Cockpit" and "Smells Like Fish" are loosely connected, taking place in the same town. The disappearance of a character in the former story is mentioned in the latter. Yet, some characters that would initially appear to be the same in both stories have different backgrounds, leaving me to assume that they are not the same. It's a bit confusing.


    The title story, "Smells Like Fish" is (I assume) an homage to Edward Lee. Most of the characters are Lee-esque, and the last chapter, which is VERY similar to the last chapter in Lee's Family Tradition, even has a character named Lee Edwards. This story also has two of the few likable (if perverted) characters.


    Trever Palmer's writing is clear, if not outstanding. There were a couple things I found disconcerting. All of the characters who smoke, with the exception of one, smoke unfiltered Pall Malls. Maybe It's a regional thing. And, three stories in a row described a woman’s clothing as being the color of pool table felt. Read over a period of time, this may not be noticeable, but reading them one after the other, I found it distracting.


    Overall, Smells Like Fish isn't a bad collection. Palmer is certainly imaginative when it comes to sex, blood and guts. This is very hardcore fiction, but it isn't a standout work. It entertains, but may have you looking for something with a little more substance.


Cautiously recommended.


Contains EXTREME violence, sex, language, rape and gore.


Review by Erik Smith



Bare Bone #6 edited by Kevin, L Donihe

Raw Dog Screaming Press, 2004

ISBN: 0974503185

Available: New and used



                Bare Bone #6 is a solid collection of horror tales and poetry, all well written and entertaining to the point where it's hard to pick standout stories. Inside, readers will find subtle and dark tales of unexpected killers, unspoken of traditions that befall children, as well as two holiday tales, “Daddy Didn't Forget” by Mollie Burleson that mirrors The Nutcracker and “Don Huavaca's Dia De Los Muertos” by Kendall Evans which offers a tongue-in-cheek, but dark look at the tradition of honoring the dead. Between the former story and “Momma's Lesson” by Tanya Twombly there's a delightful variety in cultural point of views as well.

                Bare Bone #6 would make an excellent addition to private and public collections, and between the variety, solid writing and slim, but not skinny size it makes for an easy, enjoyable read.


Review by Michele Lee


Dark Jesters edited by Nick Cato and L.L. Soares
Novello Publishers, 2009
Available:  New


    Dark Jesters is a compilation of ten hilariously funny horror tales by ten different authors.  The stories range from cavemen zombies to possessions by James Brown to a horror author getting kidnapped and tossed in a shed with a bunch of other hacks.  Each turn of the page of Dark Jesters will bring a thrill to readers. What one person may not laugh at, I believe another will.  There wasn't a single story in this collection that I did not enjoy, but there were a few that specifically stuck out in my mind as highlights in this book. 

    “Deadneck Woman” by Mark Justice is one of those. It's a follow-up story to Deadneck Hootenanny, also by Justice, published by Novello.  Readers are taken back to Possum Hollow to visit some of their old redneck zombie "friends" again and also get to meet a new gal that comes to town.  Readers that missed out on Justice's previous “Deadneck” stories will still enjoy this, however, as it can be read as a standalone. 

    Jerrod Balzer's “Wolf Plugs” is yet another story that stands out as a classic bit of humor within this book.  A small town has gathered in a courthouse and is trying to figure out what to do about the werewolves that are attacking their town.  A werewolf hunter shows up at the door bearing the solution to all their problems.  I don't want to tell you what that solution is though as that will ruin the surprise! 

    The last story I'm going to mention literally had me in tears while reading.  The story is “Curse of the Blind Eel” by James Roy Daley.  It is the story of two brothers who are on a mission to stake a vampire before he rises from his casket.  Unfortunately, one brother's got a bit of a problem and is in major need of a bathroom.  Let me just say... I never realized there were as many ways of saying "poop" and "taking a dump" as Daley put into this one short story!  I don't know what it is about bathroom humor that is so funny, but this story had me in stitches!    

    Every story within Dark Jesters is a masterpiece in some way.  Nick Cato and L.L. Soares did a fantastic job pulling together a variety of humorous stories from across the board.  This book is a must for anyone who enjoys comic horror.  Highly recommended!

Collection Includes:

- FOSSILIZED BRAAAINS by William A. Veselik
- TONGS AND THE ROACH by David T. Wilbanks
- WOLF PLUGS by Jerrod Balzer
- HACKS by Sam Battrick
- PAPA'S GOT A BRAND NEW BAG by Robert Guffey
- CURSE OF THE BLIND EEL by James Roy Daley
- RETIREMENT by Rob Brooks
- DEADNECK WOMAN by Mark Justice

Contains: Adult Language, Adult Situations, Bathroom Humor
Review by Rhonda Wilson



Creeping Shadows by Alan Draven, Brandon Ford and Jessica Lynne Gardner

Pixie Dust Press, 2009


Available: New


    Creeping Shadows contains three dark tales, by three authors who each have their own unique style.


    “Vengeance Is Mine” by Alan Draven is the story of Jack The Ripper, the detective who is trying to catch him, and a dead hooker who decides to take revenge. It's Jack the Ripper. What else do you need to know? Draven has a smooth style that doesn't get bogged down by being overly descriptive. He manages to set the scene with just a few sentences. The characters are fully fleshed; we even know who The Ripper is. Short scenes of the main players’ private lives help to bring everyone to life. This is one of the most entertaining tales I have read about Jack, and the addition of a supernatural menace certainly brings something new to the table.


    “Merciless” by Brandon Ford, inspired by a true story, tells of two high school girls who are kidnapped by a psychopath, their night of terror and what they do to survive. Kyra Mitchell and Claire Martin don't know each other, but they both end up in the wrong place at the wrong time. An unnamed madman kidnaps the girls and begins the most horrifying night of their young lives.

Ford takes his time with this story. At least the first quarter of the tale is taken up with character development. It works well, giving us the opportunity to get to know the girls as well as their tormentor. Because of this, we are more invested in what happens to the victims and, if you are like me, you can't wait to see the bad guy get what's coming to him. It’s a great tale of survival, all the more amazing because, for the most part, it really happened.


    “Sugar Skull”, by Jessica Lynne Gardner, is about an ancient Aztec curse and Annabel Perez, the woman attempting to stop the curse and save the lives of herself and others. After the death of her father, Annabel finds a strange looking sugar skull amongst his possessions. Soon, she is having nightmarish visions and thinking that her father's death may not have been all that natural. Enlisting the aid of toxicology expert Saul Giordano, Annabel investigates and finds herself confronted by a horror from the past that is killing in the present.


    Gardner's piece was my least favorite, of the three. The story itself was engrossing; the mix of ancient Aztec and the modern day worked well. The characters were fine, with Saul Giordano being my favorite. There is tension and terror. BUT, I found the writing to be clunky. Several times I had to go back and make sure I had read a sentence correctly. This tends to break up the flow of the story. It’s basically a good story, but lacking in delivery.


    Overall, Creeping Shadows is a strong collection. Even the weakest story is pretty good, and the stronger stories are, alone, each worth the price of admission. Recommended for any library’s horror collection.


Contains: Explicit violence, gore, sex, rape and strong language.

Review by Erik Smith




Magick & Misery by Lincoln Crisler
A Black Bed Sheet/Diverse Media Book, 2009
ISBN:  978-0-9822530-4-5
Available:  New


    Lincoln Crisler has assembled a vast array of short stories in his latest collection, Magick & Misery.  There are ten stories included. Three of are fairly lengthy, and the other seven are much shorter; however all are equally enjoyable.  Four stories in particular stuck out in my mind after finishing the collection above all others:  "Pete Does What Needs To Be Done" is about a 16-year-old boy dealing with his parents’ struggling marriage; "The Seven O'Clock Man" in which a mother makes up a story about a monster known as the Seven O'Clock Man in order to scare her son into behaving; "Seizing Deliverance" where a man finds out that his mother is dying; and "Discarded Refuse" a story about a garbage man who takes out a little extra garbage when he discovers his wife is cheating on him.  Crisler's eclectic collection is something horror fans won't want to miss.  Lincoln Crisler is a brilliant short story writer and is an author to keep an eye on.  Highly Recommended!

Contains:  Adult Language, Adult Situations
Review by Rhonda Wilson



Hellbound Hearts edited by Paul Kane and Marie O’Regan

Pocket Books, 2009

ISBN: 9781439140901

Available: New


    Hellbound Hearts is an anthology of short stories that are based on Clive Barker’s Hellraiser mythos.   The Hellraiser mythos is based on a novella titled The Hellbound Heart that became the basis for the movie Hellraiser, which developed enough of a following for seven sequels.  In this mythos a puzzle box opens the doorway for creatures known as Cenobites to cross into our realm.  The Cenobites seek to claim whoever opens the puzzle box for an eternity of pleasure and pain.    There are 21 stories within Hellbound Hearts, many by prominent horror authors, including Simon Clark and Steve Niles..  Amazingly enough, despite the number of different voices that the authors provide to the book, most of the stories stay true to the spirit of the Hellraiser mythos, without being a repeat of the movies.  Only “Mechanisms”, by Christopher Golden and Mike Mignola, while an excellent story doesn’t seem to fit with the mythos well. One of the more enjoyable titles is “However…”by Gary Braunbeck and Lucy Snyder, which is about some tormented teens imprisoned in a cabin who are so desperate for help they summon the Cenobites.  In Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean’s short illustrated story “Wordsworth”, the story works well, but many illustrations are too dark and the images too distorted, distracting the reader instead of complementing the narrative. Hellbound Hearts is an excellent anthology for the Hellraiser mythos. It’s quite easily the equivalent of some of the best anthologies based on Lovecraft’s Cthulu mythos. Highly recommended, especially for fans of Hellraiser.  

Contains: Violence, depictions of self-mutilation, murder, torture, explicit sexual content.





Taste of Tenderloin by Gene O'Neill

Apex Publishing,2009

ISBN: 9780981639000

Available: New



    I have walked through the Tenderloin in San Francisco a couple times. Now I wish I had paid more attention to this small and interesting neighborhood. I also wish I had paid attention to Gene O'Neill, the author of this thin and intense collection of themed horror stories.

The stories themselves are varied and diverse. The thread that holds tightly together is the setting of the Tenderloin neighborhood. The Tenderloin Business Association probably won’t endorse this book, but I certainly will. O'Neill is a a talented writer who drilled almost every single one of these stories straight out of the park.


    Apex Publishing has a hit with its second excellent collection in one year (the other is Mama’s Boy by Fran Friel). The strongest story of this collection “The Magic Words”, which captures the tone of a Twilight Zone episode better than any short story I've read in some time. The opening story is quite strong as well, and touches on a recurring theme- the Tenderloin's military veterans, be they from Vietnam, Desert Storm or Afghanistan. The Bram Stoker award-nominated story “Balance” is the strongest of these stories and is an important piece of socio-political horror. Taste of Tenderloin is a strong work that should be in every library collection.


Contains: adult themes, drug issue, sexuality and violence/

Review by David Agranoff.


For Taste of Tenderloin we have a second look review by Rhonda Wilson for her take on the book.


Taste of Tenderloin by Gene O'Neill

Apex Publishing, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-981-63900-0

Available: New

Taste of Tenderloin is comprised of eight unique stories based on life in the underbelly of San Francisco. All of the stories are connected, as they take place in the same neighborhood, and a recurring character pops up throughout to help show this connection. The language that O'Neill writes in is rich and vivid, showing he is a strong storyteller, but there was something about the stories in this particular collection that didn't grab me. All of the stories seem to end in doom and gloom and left me saddened after reading them. I guess maybe I just needed a happy ending while reading this book and was disappointed over and over again. This is definitely not a good book to be reading on an already gloomy day.

Contains: Violence, Adult Language, Adult Situations

Review by Rhonda Wilson



Bare Bone #11 by Kevin L. Donihe

Raw Dog Screaming Press, 2009

ISBN: 9781933929323

Available: New

    Included within the pages of Bare Bone #11 are 18 short tales of horror and 10 dark poems. The majority of the stories are around 5 pages long, and the text is tightly packed so there is a lot of story within each of those pages. The stories range from little boys daring each other to taunt a serial killer, to insurance reps killing (and having their way with) their customers to prevent a claim. Some of these tales are fantastic, others are fairly weak. With the wide variety of authors from all across both the US and UK, there is probably something here to suit most horror fans. I found there to be more misses than hits, however the hits were well worth the read. Some of my personal favorites were “NM” and “Chupacabra.” If you like gore, many of these tales have it, if you like violent sex, that’s here too. Profanity abounds in some of these tales so be warned if you are a sensitive reader. Most of what’s in the book is ‘in your face’ horror. What it lacked was a quiet, brooding, creepy tale.

Contains: gore, violence, sex, rape, profanity.

Review by KDP


Midnight Walk edited by Lisa Morton

Dark House Publishing, 2009

ISBN: 9780578021621

Available: New


    I have said more than a few times that Lisa Morton is the best short story author currently working in the field. Her command of the short form reminds me of two other greats from her home town:  Dennis Etchison and Richard Christian Matheson. I was excited to get this book in the mail. I was expecting a great collection edited by one of the best. Dennis Etchison, for his part, was also a great editor.

Morton shows she has a keen eye, putting together a great collection featuring almost entirely authors from the City of Angels, where she is a native This book features fourteen authors who might not considered A-list writers, but should be in library collections, because it showcases talent that will rise to the top someday..


Highlight stories include “Late Night Check-in” by Vince Churchill, “Alley Oops” by Del Howison, and “Eddie G. At the Gates of Hell” by RB P. The quality of the writing is quite strong and it is likely that your list of favorite may be different from mine. If you are looking for a short story collection of traditional horror that spins its yarns in literate and exciting directions take a Midnight Walk. It's a top notch collection.


Contains: violence, language and adult themes

Review by David Agranoff


Feminine Wiles by John Grover

Blu Phi'er, 2009
ISBN: 978-0-9823845-1-0
Available: New


    Feminine Wiles is a collection of sixteen short stories by John Grover.  Instead of stereotypical male protagonists, Grover casts a woman as the villain of each story.  The various villains range from witches and crones to dolls and even Medusa herself, so the reader gets a bit of variety.  Highlights of the book were "Eden Revisited", a story about the Garden of Eden with a bit of a spin, "Blood IS Thicker Than Water", where a woman believes that blood is the latest in skin care products, and "The Bride Wore Red", where the wedding doesn't end up going quite as the groom expects. I was a bit disappointed at the end of several stories, which ended up going a different direction than expected. A few of the stories also felt clichéd. Also troublesome is the editing of the book. I struggled throughout with numerous grammatical errors that could have easily been corrected. It's a great concept for a collection, however, and a little editing would make it a much more enjoyable read.  Grover shows promise, and I'd be willing to try reading something else by him down the road.

Review by Rhonda Wilson



The Monster Within Idea by R. Thomas Riley


ISBN: 9780982159613
Available: New


    Short story collections tend to be hit or miss. That’s not the case, here, though! R. Thomas Riley has compiled a book of short, wicked tales that are thrilling, exciting, gruesome, terrifying, and above all, well-written.  The stories include vampires, zombies, wishes gone bad, and more. Each is engaging and hooks the reader into feeling the need to devour the next story too, and the next one after that.  You'll find yourself tearing through this book as if your life depended on it.  Among my favorites are "The Run" and "Twin Thieves" both of which are a bit longer then some of the others, but are just flat out FUN reads.  These horrifying tales delve into the dark nature of man. Even the supernatural tales are rooted in our own human shortcomings - the "what ifs" of life.  Greed, remorse, vanity- all of our deadly sins are represented, twisted with the natural ease of a truly gifted storyteller.  Riley is the man you want to have telling the tales around your campfire at night - provided you don't mind lying awake in horror that evening.


Rated R - violence, monsters, gore

Review by K.D. P



Experiments in Human Nature by Monica O’Rourke

Two Backed Books,2008

ISBN: 978-1933293455

Available: New



Monica O’Rourke writes with confidence and swagger, and this short story collection offers up a wide variety of tales that take the reader on a veritable roller coaster ride of emotions. These stories run the gamut, from the grotesque and perverse to the heart-wrenching and spine tingling, and there are even a few laughs to be had. The darker additions to this compilation are certainly not for the faint of heart, invoking the malefic fiction of writers such as Jack Ketchum and Edward Lee. Experiments in Human Nature is an impressive collection that showcases the talents of a master storyteller familiar with the ins and outs of the human condition. Monica O’Rourke has her finger on the pulse of what makes us tick, and deftly uses that knowledge to put the reader through the wringer.

Appropriate for private and public collections.


Contains Adult Language and Situations, Extreme (and shocking) Violence.

Review by Bob Freeman





Unspeakable Horror ed. by Vince A. Liaguno & Chad Helder

Dark Scribe Press, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-9818632-0-7

Available: New


    Unspeakable Horror is a standout anthology with a unique focus on queer-themed horror tales. There's a lot to recommend, from tales where horror takes a back seat to the characters and musing tales of their challenges, to stories starring vampires,

zombies, ghosts, evil faeries, doppelgangers, and more who complicate already conflicted lives. These tales do not isolate or exclude, but rather put readers in the heads of those who feel lost, struggling with ideas of society, sexuality and themselves.


  Standout stories include (but are certainly not limited to); “Black Annis” by Joy Marchand, the tale of a true faerie who desperately wants to protects a pair of gay lovers; “Memento Mori” by Elissa Malcohn, about a lover who comes back from the grave for her mate; “I Am the Shadow that Walks There” by Michelle Scalise, a World War II era tale of love and devastating loss; and “Memory Box” by Reesa Brown, a tale whose true darkness hits suddenly and unrelentingly. Unspeakable Horrors is highly recommended for all libraries.

Contains: Sex, Violence, Language

Review by Michele Lee


Mama’s Boy and Other Dark Tales by Fran Friel

Apex Publications, 2008

ISBN: 9780981639079

Available: New


    Mama’s Boy and Other Dark Tales is a collection of works by Fran Friel. The diversity of the stories within is amazing. Each tale takes the reader down a twisted, dark road that sticks in the mind long after the book has been put down. The stories are varied not only in their telling, but also in length- they range from flash fiction to novella. Each story grasps the reader by the throat and doesn’t let go. One story that really stands out is “The Sea Orphan”, a sad story of a boy who looses both of his parents and finds himself in servitude to an innkeeper, then the plaything of pirates. A story that is certain to send shivers down the reader’s spine is “Close Shave”, a flash fiction piece that is painful to read and hard to forget. The final story, “Mama’s Boy”, is one that will drag the reader, kicking and screaming through the filth of a serial killer’s mind and the sad life that drove him to his horrendous deeds. “Mama’s Boy” doesn’t stop there though. Not only is it a twisted story of psychological terror, but it also blends in horror of the supernatural variety. Mama’s Boy and Other Dark Tales is a well-written, imaginative and well thought out collection of stories that I would highly recommend for both public and private libraries.

Contains: rape, incest, pedophilia and violence

Review by Bret Jordan



Traumatized by Alexander S. Brown

ISBN: 143637409X

Available: New

    Traumatized is a collection of fifteen tales of horror, and nothing else. The reader is saved from reading an introduction, any sales pitch for additional books, or even author information.  The tales contained within the book range from thrillingly creepy and horrific to mediocre.  There are stories of serial killers, demons, vengeful spirits, psychotic cults, voodoo curses, and even a bigfoot creature.  Brown is in his element when writing about haunted houses, and his writing really shines in his haunted house stories.  The opening tale – “Bloodlines” is one of the two strongest in the book.  It’s a tale of four people called for a “treasure hunt” in a mysterious house learn that there is far more to the treasure than what they bargained for.  Tied with the previous story is “It’s All True”, another haunted house tale that ends is a terrifying and gruesome way. Outside his haunted house stories, “The God Complex” was an interesting tale. I found his murderer tales to be the weakest in the book, specifically “April” which seems to have been written long before the author really hit his writing stride.  It comes across as forced and stilted with problematic dialogue and unbelievable characters.  The final tale in the book, “Zoe’s Swan Song” is both gruesome and familiar. It’s pretty clear how the setup of someone offering to show a vindictive person their “inner beauty” will turn out.   


On the whole this collection is well worth the purchase.  Any collection will have stories that are stronger than others, and the percentage of excellent versus weak stories is in the reader’s favor here, with far more good than not.  Recommended for horror fans.

Contains: profanity, gore, sex, rape and murder.

Review by Kristen D P


Hot Blood edited by Jeff Gelb and Lonn Friend

Pinnacle, 2004

ISBN: 9780786016433

Available: New and Used

     Hot Blood is the first in a series of erotic horror anthologies and consists of twenty-four stories each written by different authors.  Within this collection Robert R. McCammon's "The Thang" introduces us to a man who makes a wish he soon regrets, Gary Brandner's "Aunt Edith" has a special "test" she puts all of her niece's boyfriends through, Ray Garton's story "Punishments" gives us a run-down on the relationship that a church organist and a teenage boy have together, and Rex Miller lets us find out just who's behind "The Voice" that the radio DJ has been talking to.  In addition to these there are many, many other great stories included within this book.  Hot Blood is a great introduction for readers wanting to branch into the erotic horror sub-genre, giving them a chance to try out various authors. Highly recommended for large public libraries and private collections.

Review by Rhonda Wilson


Sheep and Wolves By Jeremy C. Shipp

Raw Dog Screaming Press,2008

ISBN: 9781933293592

Available: New

    There is no moment reading this collection where you feel grounded in reality. I don’t want to give readers the impression that Shipp hasn’t created very real unsettling moments- he has just done it differently than most horror writers.

    Conventional horror wisdom is that you create characters and situations that the reader can relate to and build suspense from there. The horror in this collection doesn’t come from conventional wisdom. Shipp creates a horrific ecosystem of surreal prose that the characters have to inhabit.

    Shipp has written short but sweet tales with no wasted words. He weaves each story together tightly, like a basket. I took the opening story to be an exploration of patriarchy but here is the thing – I am not sure. That is not a slight on Shipp, it’s simply that he has created stories that can be, and probably are, interpreted in various ways.

    My favorite stories in the collection were “Those Below”, “Long Metal Sigh” and “American Sheep.” Recommended for fans of dark surrealist fiction, and recommended for libraries looking to expand their collection to represent young fresh surrealist authors.

Contains: Gore, violence, not for young readers.

Review by David Agranoff

Note: This is a second look review, the original review was done by KD P and can be found here


Tattered Souls edited by Frank J. Hutton

Cutting Block Press, 2007

ISBN: 9780977826230

Available: New


    Tattered Souls is a collection of six stories that are almost novellas in length. Each of the tales brings a new and refreshing aspect of horror to the block. In “The Monkey Skin Cloak”, a couple returning from a safari hunt in Africa accidentally runs over a woman wearing a cloak made of monkey pelts. They load the body up, but it disappears on the road to camp so the wife claims the cloak as her own. In the cloak she finds something primeval and alluring that changes her in ways that her husband and the rest of the camp didn’t think possible. “Other People” is the story of people living in the same apartment complex, interacting without knowing the sickness that exists in their neighbors and in them as they seek unique forms of death so they can ascend into purer beings. “The End of Flesh” was a real treat for the science fiction lover in me as it told the story of a future world where animal life had all but vanished and some men had turned to cannibalism to quench their thirst for flesh. In “Cupped Dirty Wings”, a man gambles away the cash of a mob boss and knows that his time on this earth is short. He meets a woman who claims to be a goddess and wishes to journey with him to his fate. One of the more twisted tales in Tattered Souls was “Drool”, the story of a man who has taken a morbid step out of reality in his pursuit of the love of a young girl.  Finally, “Terminal Condition” is the story of police officer that seems to be a magnet for death.


This is an excellent collection of stories with truly unique storylines in most cases. None of the stories, with the possible exception of “The Monkey Skin Cloak”, uses common villains, such as werewolves, vampires, or zombies. Each story attacks the reader with fear from a different direction and each tale paints its own picture of our world in vibrant color. Readers advisory note: this is a good title to recommend to horror readers who are looking for something a little different in the horror genre and to those who enjoy long short stories.   Recommended for horror fiction and short story collections in public and private libraries.   

 Contains: sex, gore, mild pedophilia, violence, self mutilation, torture

Review by Bret Jordan

Note this is a second look review, the original review was done by David Agranoff and can be found here.



Horror Library III Edited by R.J. Cavender

Cutting Block Press, 2008

ISBN: 9780977826254

Available: New


 Horror Library III is an anthology containing 30 horror stories by both well-known and not-so-well- known writers. Within the pages of this volume the reader will find a barn that has the strange and terrifying ability to digest things that get trapped inside. They will stop at a way station where the dead briefly linger before continuing on to the afterlife. The reader will become involved in a poker game where the chips represent time that the gambler has left to live and to win is to gain life, but to lose could mean instant death. They will meet an anorexic woman who knows a disturbing truth that prevents her from eating and a hospital photographer will take a picture that will haunt him for the rest of his life. These are just a few of the stories in this book and it is one of the best anthologies that I have had the pleasure to read all year.


Within the pages of Horror Library III the reader will find very few of the canned monsters we all have come to know, such as vampires and werewolves. No, this volume holds several new nightmares that will draw the reader in and keep them wondering until it is too late. I would certainly recommend this 3rd volume of the Horror Library to anyone who likes well written tales of horror.


Contains: Violence, mild pedophilia, gore

Review by Bret Jordan



Sheep and Wolves By Jeremy C. Shipp

Raw Dog Screaming Press,2008

IBSN: 9781933293592

Available: New

    Sheep and Wolves is an interesting little short story compilation, with thirteen short stories of a very high caliber.  The stories in this particular compilation are all horror stories, with some leaning into the realm of science fiction gone bad.  The writing is concise, yet descriptive.  Each story feels like it is just the right length for the reader's comfort level.  As with all short story collections, some stories are more effective than others. All are horrifying in one aspect or another.  Some thrilled me, others confused me, and some left me perplexed and disturbed.  I consider this to be a fine collection which was both very entertaining and disturbing from beginning to end.


My only real criticism for this book is the order of the stories. There are certain horrifying visuals that Mr. Shipp is very fond of and uses over and over again.  They can be very effective. However, the stories that use these common images would have been more effective if they had been broken up instead of having one right after another.  I would also have liked a little more clarification on exactly what I was reading in some of the stories... for example there is a story where a man has something locked up in a VW in his back yard, he feeds this thing and it seems fairly hostile.  At one point in the story I thought I had a grasp of what it was, but by the end I was even more perplexed.  I still enjoyed the story, but would have liked it more if I had been able to close the book knowing what the thing in the VW was. 


"Those Below," a tale of life after death in a strange way, was probably my favorite of the stories, with very interesting social implications that could leave the reader pondering about humanity afterward.  “American Sheep” was also a very interesting tale. I would love to see that one expanded to the length of a novella.  On the whole this is a fun little short story book. Recommended..

Review by KD P


Lowlife Underdogs by Dustin LaValley

Raw Dog Screaming Press,2008

ISBN: 1933293640



    Lowlife Underdogs is a short story book in the strictest sense of the word.  Many of these stories are one page, with some only a paragraph long.  There are a total of 32 stories. The title story is the longest, coming in at 23 pages long.    The writing style and tone are reminiscent of something a depressed emo would write while spending a month in the local inpatient “happy house”. There are several stories about suicide, murder, and difficulty having children. There’s no author information, making it difficult to gauge his age, but based on what I read, I would guess the author is relatively young. If he is, we have a lot to look forward to, because his actual writing is very good. 


     My main complaint is that the execution in each story actually undoes the terror that it should induce.  Most of these stories are tales we've heard before, urban legends or scenes we've all viewed in various "B" horror movies.  I'm not sure if they were meant to be tributes, but if we all know what is going to happen, then they cease to have the ability to shock and horrify.


    This book would be most highly entertaining for the 15-18 year old group.

Contains: Murder, Suicide, Violence, Profanity, Sex, Low level Gore (predominantly aftermath).

Reviewed by KD P





Sudden Victims by Dennis Latham
Y.S. Gazelle Books, 2008
Available: New

Sudden Victims contains 18 tales from an alternate reality. The narrator is walking through a train and every time he enters a new car the next story begins. Readers are introduced to the victims before delving into their storylines. Dennis Latham is a Marine and Vietnam veteran whose writing was obviously influenced by the war Every story is different and a creative extension from this man’s past and his imagination. His detailed accounts of living in the field watching the enemy shoot and destroy his fellow marines seem very real. "Party Favors" was a strong story and a fun find within those pages.  Recommended for public libraries.
Contains: War, violence, drug use, gore, suicide.

Review by the Angry Princess 


The White Hands and Other Weird Tales by Mark Samuels

Tartarus Press

ISBN: 9781872621890

Available: New


Atmospheric and almost lyrical, Mark Samuels’ short story collection, anchored by the surrealistic White Hands, is a testament to a bygone era when eloquent and intelligent prose were at the fore. Samuels’ style harkens back to the haunted writings of the giants of the weird and supernatural as if he were Arthur Machen, reincarnate. For the aspiring writer, Mark Samuels’ literary excellence is nothing short of inspiring, even as you are raked over the coals of his surrealistic visions of the strange and unusual. Though not for everyone, this is wordsmithing at its finest. Sheer unadulterated brilliance, this title is  recommended for all lovers of the weirdly fantastic.

Review by Bob Freeman 


Strange Tales edited by Rosalie Parker

Tartarus Press,2003

ISBN: 9781872621807

Available: New


    Strange Tales is an anthology that is just that, strange. This eclectic mix of weird horror reminds us that horror does not come neatly packaged with an entrailed bow and wrapping of human flesh. Although Strange Tales collects pieces divergent in style and content, there is a  cohesiveness in the authors’ mutual exploration of and descent into an unsettling and disturbing arena of the bizarre. Guttural terror oozes from Adam Daly’s “The Self Eater” and Nina Allan’s “Terminus” is chaotic and dysfunctional. True horror grips us on a visceral level, and settles in our psyche. Strange Tales accomplishes that effectively. .

Review by Bob Freeman


Bound for Evil ed. by Tom English and ill. by Allen Koslowski

Dead Letter Press, 2008

ISBN:  9780979633522

Available: New

            Bound for Evil is an homage to the terrible power of books. The stories and their authors span across time and location, including classic authors H.P. Lovecraft and Nathaniel Hawthorne as well as contemporary writers such as Ramsey Campbell, Angeline Hawkes, and Christopher Fulbright. It’s a nice touch that information about each author is provided before each contribution. Although the stories vary in tone and genre, with humor, mystery, science fiction, and fantasy all making an appearance, the passion of the editor for bibliomania at its most horrifying comes across clearly. Bound for Evil has strong stories and remarkable writing. The book itself is beautiful with effective illustrations by artist Allen Koslowski. Bound for Evil is a limited edition. It would make an excellent gift for the book lover or collector of horror, or an addition to the collection of a horror reader suffering from a serious case of bibliomania. An excellent anthology that will appeal to a wide audience, Bound for Evil is very highly recommended for public library collections.

Reviewed as part of the Halloween Horror Review Project, click here to see other Halloween themed horror book reviews.






Slivers of Bone by Ray Garton

Cemetery Dance, 2008

ISBN: 9781587670947

Available: New

Slivers of Bone collects thirteen fantastic tales by Ray Garton. Each story in this varied collection grabs the reader by the throat, or, sometimes, by something besides the throat. The story “The Guy down the Street” is about a neighbor that no sane man would care to have around his teenage daughter, but the true horror of the story lies elsewhere. In “The Homeless Couple”, Mr. Garton goes into the ether with a chilling, yet touching, ghost story. “The Picture of Horror” will terrify and repulse the reader with its telling of a loss of innocence, the dire consequences of immorality, and the mistake of dealing with the devil.

The stories from this collection will not only have the reader double checking their doors at night, but also taking a hard look at the window locks while looking around the nearby houses for that odd neighbor or religious fanatic. Slivers of Bone is one of the best story collections I have read and I would certainly recommend it for any collection.


Contains: Sex, bondage, pedophilia

Review by Bret Jordan


 ...The Dead Will Inherit The Earth... by Thom Olausson

Thom Olausson, 2008

ISBN: 9781847993472

Available: New 

    Author Thom Olausson hails from Sweden and proclaims that "these stories are the ones deemed TOO scary for American readers". If only that were the case. In point of fact, there are very few thrills and chills within this collection's pages. While several stories do show promise, “The Crooked Cross,” in particular, they suffer from abysmal editing (which may be due to English not being the author's native tongue) and more than a few are substandard examinations of clichéd horror tropes. When Mr. Olausson is inspired and writing outside the box, there is a raw energy to his prose that shows a glimmer of potential. One would hope that he continues to grow as an artist, honing his craft for future publications.

Review by Bob Freeman



Fright House by Lydia Roberson

Publisher: Lydia Roberson,2007

ISBN: 9780615148120

Available: New

    In this ambitious collection of short stories, poems, and biographical notes, Ms. Roberson has attempted to delve into the very heart of psychological fear, to show the monsters that lurk within as much as without. Unfortunately, Fright House fails to fulfill the author’s ambition. Although the themes are very mature, the stories are written in a simple and straightforward manner, a jarring combination of content and style. Additionally, the storytelling is less than compelling. The author chooses time and time again to tell us about the horrors within rather than show us, and there’s no real follow through, focus or linear thought to keep the reader turning pages.  Ms. Roberson’s one true accomplishment is her fervent honesty. She attacks her prose like a true believer in what she’s trying to share with her audience. Fright House has many of the same problems as other self-published books. Atrocious editing hinders this project, with grammatical errors scattered throughout. There is a germ of a great idea here… in fact, there are several.  The book was simply not ready for publication.

Review by Bob Freeman



Aliens, Minibikes and Other Staples of Suburbia by MF Korn

Silver Lake Publishing, 2004

ISBN: 1931095183

Available: New

    This collection contains eight short stories and a novella, crossing multiple genres from horror to science fiction and even some twisted humor. Two of the stories that really stood out were “The Spectral Carnival Show” and “The Catch of the Century.”  The first is a haunting tale about a mysterious carnival that appears in town, and disappears with something precious just as suddenly as it came. “The Catch of the Century” is almost comical. The reader can see where story is headed, but there’s always hope that the anticipated outcome is not inevitable. The true prize of this collection is the novella, Aliens and Minibikes. This is a charming story told from a child’s perspective, with a child’s innocent view of the world as a wonderful place. Set in the late 1960’s, this story follows a group of boys who discover a strange and wonderful animal and the adventures that arise from their find. Korn creates tension in the story by introducing some older children who are plotting to take the pet, leaving the reader wondering about their villainous intentions for the little creature. MF Korn tells a wondrous tale that will take older readers back to their childhood. He dredges up images from our past, friends we may have had as a kid, and the bullies we fought, and adds a mysterious creature to bring all these things together to create a grand adventure. Aliens and Minibikes contains the sort of adventures we all dreamed of as children and an innocence we long to go back to as adults. Aliens, Minibikes and Other Staples of Suburbia is a book that I am proud to have in my collection.

Review by Bret Jordan



Read by Dawn III, edited by Adelle Hartley

Bloody Books, 2008

ISBN: 9781905636259

Available: New 

    Read by Dawn III collects 28 short stories of natural and supernatural horror. The storytelling styles are as varied as the authors who wrote them and range, as many anthologies do, from fair to excellent. A few that really caught my attention were: What Will Happen When You are Gone by Jeffory Jacobson, where a couple go to buy a ranch home and discover that it is much more than it seems; Wendy by Ryan Cooper, the horrifying story of a man who can’t let go of a childhood friend; Windchimes by Paul Kane, the chilling story of a father’s loss; and finally, Coming to a Close by Aurelio Rico Lopez III, the brutal tale of a woman who is kidnapped and abused, with an ending that just gave me the chills. Though a few of the stories didn’t really catch my interest, the ones that did made up for them by far.

 Contains: Torture, Rape

Review by Bret Jordan




Dark Distortions edited by Molly Fesse and C.D. Allen

Scotopia Press,2008


Available: New

    This thick and ambitious collection is overflowing, with 32 short stories, novellas and poems of dark fiction by unknown authors. In concept, this book has the makings of a fantastic anthology, giving new voices the freedom to show off their talent without worrying about word counts. The editors in the introduction suggested a commitment to working with stories and authors who might not be ready for prime time. The editors made one major mistake for a collection introducing new authors. There are no bios on the authors. No information was given besides their names. I found this very frustrating. The stand-out stories in this collection were Web by John Logan and A Night Encounter in Confederate Virginia by DC Sowders.

Contains: violence, language, sexuality and drug use.

Review by David Agranoff 



Ugly Stories for Beautiful People by James Burr

Corsega Press,2007
ISBN: 1430320370

Available: New

    Burr’s short stories defy categorization. The stories vary in length and range in type from a tale told from the point of view of a pregnancy stick to the story of two people who are so in love with each other that they literally become one. The format of the book is also unusual. It has no table of contents, and the stories just sort of flow into each other. If there is a theme to the collection, it is about how the characters’ perceptions prevent them from seeing the reality around them.  Burr is a talented storyteller with an impressive imagination. His stories will be appreciated by readers of horror, bizarro fiction, and those who just like good writing. Recommended.

Contains:  Violence, minor gore, sexual themes


Fried! Fast Food, Slow Deaths edited by Colleen Morris and Joel A. Sutherland

Graveside Tales, 2008


Available: New 

    Morris and Sutherland serve up a tasty little anthology that goes after the fast food industry. Like the restaurants it parodies, Fried! has a menu that is varied and quite frankly comes down to a matter of taste. The anthology embraces a steady diet of established small press authors, with a healthy sampling of amateur scribes at different stages of development added into the mix. Some stories are quite palatable, while others are best relegated to the refuse pile. Overall, Fried! Fast Food, Slow Deaths serves up enough delicacies to make it a satisfying meal, but be warned- there are some entrees that are not quite suitable for consumption. Readers advisory note: Readers of horror and short fiction may appreciate this title the most.

Contains: A smorgasbord of disturbing imagery, adult language and situations, and over-the-top violence.


Stories included are:

Meat drippings by D.L.Snell
Bad Fish by Gregg Winkler
Station 19 by Michael Josef
Red, Yellow, and Green by Christopher J. Dwyer
The Drain by Michael Hultquist
Veggie Burger by Bret Jordan
Sugar Pie, Honey Pie by Shanna Germain
Something in the Water by H.F. Gibbard
An Army Marches On Its Stomach by Andy Kirby
The Applicant by Kevin Lightburn
Clipped by Jodi Lee
The FNG by James Patrick Cobb
The Playspace by Cody Goodfellow
Take Away by Rodney J. Smith
A Bad Case Of The Meat Sweats by Stephen Leclerc
Shift Change by David Dunwoody
Meat by Lisa Becker
Snailwart by MP Johnson
Comfort Food by Cheryl Rainfield
Lunchtime at the Justice Café by Ken Goldman
Happinex by KJ Kabza

The Bocan by Joel A. Sutherland

Feeding Frenzy by Matt Hults



A Dark and Deadly Valley edited by Mike Heffernan.

Silverthought Press, 2007

ISBN: 0977411087

Available: New

    A Dark and Deadly Valley is a collection of twenty tales of terror set in World War II, written by some of the most talented writers of horror today.  The book’s presentation was clearly done with care and attention. The cover looks like classic horror comic book art, and artwork also accompanies the initial page of each story.  The stories are strong, and many of them focus on the human horror of war with a supernatural twist.  Readers will see the lengths people will go to win in times of desperation, from making a pact with the devil in John Everson’s story, “The Devil’s Platoon,” or by creating the ultimate deadly creature in Brian Keene’s “The Black Wave”. Also included are stories about the often frightening costs of human survival, such as Harry Shannon’s “And The Worm Shall Feed.”  The stories range from subtle in their terror to hit you over the head fear.  Another standout story is Weston Ochse’s “Hiroshima Falling,” in which victims of the blast find that human skin now holds memories that seek not to be forgotten.   A Dark and Deadly Valley is an excellent entry point for exposing readers of war novels to horror fiction, and can also serve as a gateway to historical war fiction for traditional horror readers.  The book makes a fine complement to another World War II title, Stephen Mark Rainey’s Blue Devil Island.  Strongly recommended for public libraries.

Contains: some extreme gore, violence, murdering children, cannibalism

 Stories included are:

 "After Dunkirk" by T.M Wright

"The Coventry Boy" by Graham Joyce

"The Honor Guard" by Paul Finch

"In the Dark and the Deep" by Steve Vernon

"Simple Equations" by Jeremy Robert Johnson

"The Night is an Ally" by Scott Nicholson

"Come Unto Me" by Elizabeth Massie

"And the Worm Shall Feed" by Harry Shannon

"At Angels Sixteen" by Larry Santoro

"The Black Wave" by Brian Keene

"And They Will Come in the Hour of Our Greatest Need" by Brian Hodge

"The Devil's Platoon" by John Everson

"Sturm und Drang" by Bev Vincent

"Hiroshima Falling" by Weston Ochse

"Doorway to the Sky" by Cody Goodfellow

"A Judgment Call for Judgment Day" by Scott Edelman

"Blossoms in the Wind" by Rick Hautala

"The Gypsy Camp" by Mort Castle

"Warbirds" by David J. Schow

"But Somewhere I Shall Wake" by Gary A. Braunbeck



Tattered Souls edited by Frank J. Hutton

Cutting Block Press, 2007

ISBN: 9780977826230

Available: New

Tattered Souls is a short collection consisting of six tales of horror. The stories are longer than most short stories, but not quite long enough to be novellas. I am not sure if there was an intended theme for this anthology. Erotic themes repeat in almost all the stories, and at least two are excellent, nuanced detective noir stories… a subgenre that is very dependent on texture. A standout in this collection is Chris Reed’s “Drool,” the twisted tale of an aspiring pedophile losing his sanity that balances disturbing imagery with laugh-out loud comedy. The absolute winner, however, is “The End of Flesh,” by Matt Wallace, a dark, dystopic science fiction story that just might rock your world. This revelatory novella could and should be expanded into a full novel. “Drool” and “The End of All Flesh” are worth the price alone, but all the stories should provide an enjoyable read.  This collection is why the underground horror press exists- to give a home to young, fresh writers trying to find a place for their work. One thing is for sure- Cutting Block Press has put out a book of high-quality horror that is extreme in every sense of the word. Recommended. Stories include:

 Contains Violence, sexuality, drug use, cannibalism.

Review by Daivd Agranoff

Stories included are:

“The Monkey Skin Cloak” by Jeff Crook

 “Other People” by Richard Wright

“ The End of Flesh” by Matt Wallace

“Clipped Dirty Wings” by M.E. Palmer

“Drool” by Chris Reed

“Terminal Condition” by Chris Ryan.



Horror Library Volume II edited by R.J. Cavender

Cutting Block Press, 2007

ISBN: 9780977826223
Available: New

    Horror Library Volume II is an excellent collection of short stories that can be enjoyed all at once or savored over many days.   The pleasant surprise with the Horror Library is that in addition to stories covering familiar territory, as seen in John Rector’s “A Season of Sleep”  and Kevin Donihe’s “Preacher Mike and the Black Cross Revelation ,”  there are also original ideas that result in enjoyable tales,  such as “Charlotte’s Frequency,” by Ian Rogers. The collection has no particular theme and the stories cover a wide variety of subjects.. Although the stories in Horror Library Volume II vary in length and in theme, they are all strong, entertaining reads. Most are short enough that readers will find themselves easily starting another… then another… in fact, the book should come with the tagline “you can’t read just one.” Strongly recommended for public libraries.  Contains: gore, violence, suicide.

 Stories included are:

Clara Chandler - Blood: An Introduction

John Rector - A Season of Sleep

Stephen R. George - A Chainsaw Execution

Cameron Pierce - I am Meat, I am in Daycare

Sunil Sadanand - Trapped Light Medium

Marc Paoletti - Apple

John Mantooth - Next Stop, Babylon

Michael W. Lucas - Opening the Eye

Matthew Fryer - Phaedra’s Baby

Tom Pendergrass - Immortal Remains

Ron McGillvray - The Garbage Collectors

Lon Prater - Free to Good Home

Alan Smale - Bound

Boyd E. Harris - Alien Fajitas

Stephen Bacon - The Trauma Statement

Ian Rogers - Charlotte’s Frequency

Ken Goldman - High Tide Coming

Kevin L. Donihe - Preacher Mike and the Black Cross Revelation

Lorne Dixon - Reins in the Night Season

Glen Krisch - Filth Eater

Kim Despins - Crushed Neem

Daniel L. Naden - Drawn

Peter Hynes - Meat-Boy

Petra Miller - You’re a Good Girl, Delilah

Mark Justice - The Losers vs Beelphegor

Paul Walther - We Fall on Each Other

M. Louis Dixon - H19N1

Matt Hults - The Show Must Live On

Matt Samet - White Balloon

Clinton Green - The Horror in the Bookstore




Apple of My Eye by Amy Grech

Two Backed Books,  2006

ISBN: 193329342X

Available: New

    Apple of My Eye is a collection of thirteen short stories with varied themes from horror author Amy Grech, an enjoyable afternoon read of terror tales in bite-sized bits.   While many of her story concepts are familiar, the excellence of Grech’s storytelling, combined with good plot pacing and solid writing, makes for an entertaining reading experience.   Recommended for public libraries.  Contains: Violence, Rape, Murder, Cannibalism .

The included stories are:

Apple of My Eye

Come and Gone



Raven's Revenge


Ashes to Ashes


Cold Comfort

Damp Wind and Leave

Initiation Day


EV 2000




Confessions of a Ghoul and other stories by M.F. Korn

Silver Lake Publishing, 2003


Available: New and Used 

    This collection by M.F. Korn contains a variety of short stories and a novella.  The short stories take up a little over half of the book. The rest of the book is the novella, also the titular story. Some of Korn’s more enjoyable short stories include “Letters from Skitzo” and “And Now, the Wizard of Gore…May I Present the President.”  However, not all of Korn's short stories work.   The novella, “Confessions of a Ghoul” has an interesting premise.  Psychology graduate student Tim Meadows has chosen to do his thesis project on a mysterious homeless man, Tiresias, and quickly finds himself losing his grip on normalcy as he enters Tiresias’ world.     Contains: Cannibalism, violence, murder

Stories included are:

Eternal Questions Posed At the International House of Pancakes

And Now, the Wizard of Gore, May I present the President

The Great Find of the NonTraditional Computer Cowboys

Rags to Riches to Hell

The Unwelsome Guest

Letters from Skitzo

Confessions of a Ghoul: Apologia Pro Mea Vita.


Butcher Shop Quartet edited by Frank J. Hutton

Cutting Block Press, 2006

ISBN: 0977826201

Available: New and Used

Butcher Shop Quartet is a horror fiction anthology with four of the most diverse stories anyone is likely to find in the same book.  The first story is entitled ‘The Last of Boca Verde’ by Boyd E. Harris and it’s the story of an eccentric fellow who is sorely lacking in people skills. He is in search of his brother who went missing within the jungles of a dormant volcano. In the search for his brother he reveals things about himself that would probably be best left hidden. ‘The House on the Hill’ by Clinton Greens is the next story in the list. It is the story of a man who spends the night in a haunted house as an initiation right into a college fraternity. The night in ‘The House on the Hill’ has consequences that follow the main character much further into his future than he could have ever imagined. ‘The Reconstruction of Kasper Clark’ by Michael Stone is the third story in this collection. Mr. Clark has a horrible defect. His mouth is on his forehead instead of where it rightfully belongs. His fiance has insisted that his mouth be put in it’s proper place before she will say the wedding vows forcing him to make a change that he really isn’t ready to make. The only facility that can fix his condition is more like an insane asylum than it is a hospital, with the strangest group of physicians and nurses anyone is likely to meet this side of hell. The final story is entitled ‘Darkling Child’ by A. T. Andreas. This story pits a hereditary protector of good against the seductresses of darkness in a battle for the future of mankind. Mankind’s fate seems doomed as the protector is seduced by the dark delights of his twin adversaries. The diversity of the stories in this book would make it a good fit for any public or private library. Review by Bret Jordan

Contains: Sex, Violence

Review by Bret Jordan


Read by Dawn 2 edited by Adele Hartley

Bloody Books, 2007

ISBN: 9781905636105

Available: New

    Read by Dawn 2 is an anthology with a little bit of everything. Stories that will really grab readers’ attention grabbers include “The Skin and Bone Music Box,” in which a spoiled ruler takes a precious thing and turns it into an item of horror, “Fat Hansel,” a retelling of an old story with an all new twist that is sure to terrify, “A Candle for the Birthday Boy,” a story of vengeance that is sure to keep the reader on the edge of their seat, and “Fingers,” which will terrify the reader with it’s bizarre horror. This anthology also has some classical themes told in an all-new light, including a zombie tale entitled “Harvest,” and the apocalyptic story “A Storm of Ice.”  A reader’s advisory note: some of the stories, such as “Guts,” in which a man has a gruesome reaction to drinking tequila, and “Between The Screams,” about a young man who has to do atrocious things to belong to a gang, are not for the faint of heart. As with many anthologies, the tales in Read by Dawn 2 range in quality-  happily, in this case, from fairly good to great. Recommended for adult horror collections in any library. Stories Include:

Sharp Things by Joshua Reynolds

Between The Screams by Brian G. Ross

Pebble Toss and Dare by Bradley Michael Zerbe

Baby Steps by Scott Stainton Miller

The Skin And Bone Music Box by Andy P. Jones

Hostage Situation by Joe L. Murr

Rite of Passage by Ken Goldman

Fan Hansel by David Turnbull

Childhood by Morag Edward

Like Snow by Brian Richmond

Adultery by F. R. Jameson

Gristle by Stephen Roy

And Then… by Kim Sabinan

A Candle for the Birthday Boy by Christopher Hawkins

The Door by Suzanne Elvidge

Sally by Patricia Russo

Fingers by Jamie Killen

Trick or Treat? By Clare Kirwan

Feeder by A. C. Wise

Urbane by Frazer Lee

Harvest by David Dunwoody

The Proposal by Charles Colyott

Guts by Gavin Inglis

The Night Animals by Scott Stainton Miller

A Storm of Ice by Joel A. Sutherland

Falling Stars by Samuel Minier

 Contains: Violence, Gore, Rape, Torture

Review by Bret Jordan



Screams from a Dying World by David Agranoff

Punk Horror Press, 2006

ISBN: n/a

Available: New

David Arganoff presents six engaging and entertaining stories covering a wide range of times, places and topics in this chapbook.  Several stories take place in Indiana, the author's home state, and readers will see reflections of his Midwestern cultural influences.   "Buffalo Trace"  recounts a conflict between nature and man, as developers attempt to build cell phone towers in an old buffalo trace.  "Self Killing Self"  tells of a young lady facing despair in an apocalyptic wasteland.  "Coast to Coast"  records the journey of a couple on a cross country trip who discover they are in the midst of  mysterious events  they have been listening to on AM radio.   In "Fertility", a being named Cainen meets with a fertility doctor in a science fiction world.  "Normal"  tells of a punk teen's experiences of crossing America in the 1980’s.  Finally, in  "Grampy’s Spirit That Never Was", a grandfather tells his grandson a tale about a spirit that visited him at work.  Agranoff's stories are easy to read and flow well . He creates a nice creepy tone ,that will stick in readers' minds, particularly in "Grampy's Spirity That Never Was" and "Buffalo Trace." While not all the stories are pure horror, they will capture the reader's imagination.  The author also includes a notes page that gives insight into the origins of his  inspirations for each story.    David Agranoff has produced an excellent little chapbook of stories that spread across genres. It will be interesting to see further work from this author. Recommended, especially for libraries collecting Indiana and Midwestern authors. Contains: murder, contemplation of suicide.


Destinations Unknown by Gary A. Braunbeck

Cemetery Dance Publications, 2006

ISBN: 1587670852

Available: New

    Destinations Unknown contains one novella and two short stories. The novella, entitled "The Ballad of Road Mama and Daddy Bliss," is hard to put down. The tale starts off with the main character being sentenced to community service with the gruesome chore of picking up dead bodies for the coroner. From there the story quickly jumps into twisted mystery as the main character tries to figure out how and why one of their “passengers” died. The mystery is just the beginning as the main character continues down the road to an almost surreal existence where man and machine have become one. "Congestion"  takes place during a traffic jam as a man tries to drive himself to the emergency room to have someone help him with his heart attack. The final story, "Merge Right," is the story of a man trying to fulfill his dead wife’s last wish and scatter her ashes over Niagara Falls. The drive there becomes a nighttime trip into terror as the main character is haunted by his wife’s death and the odd cars that seem to be stranded in the snow on the lonely stretch of highway. All of the stories in this book are well written and fabulously entertaining. The surreal scenes come to life, described in believable detail. Characters seem eerily familiar and charming, while at the same time holding a menacing air about them. At times I could almost see myself sitting behind the wheel of the car wondering what was going on, and believing it. Recommended for public and private library collections.  Contains: Gore, Violence. Review by Bret Jordan




A Dirge For The Temporal by Darren Speegle

Raw Dog Screaming Press, August , 2004
ISBN: 0974503134

Available: New

     Darren Speegle  has presented us with a collection of short stories in A Dirge for the Temporal. Speegle has written a wide range of stories from the creepy and bizarre to the disturbing and brutal.  Among his creations are a vengeful girl who makes it rain apricots, a town that prepares a special barbeque celebration, and a surprise party that goes awry.     Some of the stories are easy to understand  and enjoyable while others require multiple readings and serious examination.    Favorite stories included in the book are "The Day It Rained Apricots," "Rupture Zone", and "Triangle."   Readers of mainstream horror will find some occasional reading speed bumps along the way as A Dirge For The Temporal includes a number of experimental literary works.    There are a  number of horrifying stories in A Dirge For The Temporal which makes it a good addition for public libraries with a large and varied reader population that might look to experiment in more literary horror.  



The Mutilation of Paris Hilton by MP Johnson

Freak Tension Press, September, 2006


Available: New

    The Mutilation of Paris Hilton is a chapbook containing three stories by author MP Johnson.  The title story introduces Justin, a young man with an intense hatred of socialite Paris Hilton. With the help of his friend Chip, he kidnaps and kil s her in the most heinous of ways.  It is an incredibly graphic and disturbing story. If Johnson's goal was to go for gore and shock he succeeds.   What makes the story most disturbing is that it is about a real person and not a fictional construct. The second story, Punk Rock Mummy, is a fun and inventive tale about a band's use of a reanimated mummy to enhance their concerts.  The third story Snailwart is about the pus from the warts that a young man gets from his pet snail and its effects on the patrons of the restaurant where he works.  There is a lot of imagination evident in Snailwart and the gross-out factor is high.  Johnson clearly has a great imagination and has the ability to create interesting stories. However, the title story may make it difficult for a library to add this to a collection.   Contains: violence, kidnapping and extreme gore.


Spider Pie by Alyssa Sturgill

Raw Dog Screaming Press, May, 2005
ISBN: 1933293055 

Available: New  

    Readers familiar with the conventions of straightforward horror fiction will need to set aside their expectations as they try a helping of Spider Pie.   Alyssa Sturgill's short stories contain various amounts of humor, horror, and gore. They vary in flavor from sweet to very dark. My favorite stories are "Leviathan," a story about a boy and his pet monster,  and "Beware of Kittens," a tale of a mother truly having kittens when her daughter breaks curfew, with deadly consequences.  After reading through Spider Pie, I find that it is an enjoyable collection of stories, but requires an open mind and active imaginations, as well as multiple readings. If you're looking for brain candy, you'll have to look elsewhere, but it is worth the effort it takes to digest Spider Pie.  I believe that Spider Pie can be included in a library's collection development plan. I believe that although this book may have a limited audience, libraries should consider purchasing it. While a library caters to what the public wants, it also provides a place where readers can have exposure to new and different literature and Spider Pie definitely falls into that category.  Contains:  Violence and sexual passages. 




Weird Women, Wired Women by Kit Reed
Wesleyan Univ. Press, 1993
ISBN: 0819522554 (softcover)

Available: New and Used
    These nineteen stories will truly creep out any woman who's ever been afraid she's turning into her mother, dissatisfied with her appearance, or uneasy about seeming (or being) unconventional. Reed taps into our everyday fears of who we are or who we might become. What nightmares can arise from plastic surgery, beauty pageants, and immaculate houses? Kit Reed has imagined them, and her words are a terrifying wake up call.
entry by Francesca the Librarian



Nobody edited by Kelly Gunter Atlas

Dark Hart Press, 2006

ISBN: 0978731834

Available: New 

    Nobody is a fine collection of short stories that cover a wide range of horror genres. The common denominator for the stories is that they are all written by members of EWAG (Essex Writers & Artists Guild), so instead of all the stories addressing a theme, readers get a “grab bag” with a variety of tales.  Within the pages of this anthology are stories of ghosts and the supernatural, alien invasion, vampires, technological terrors and dark love affairs. A few of the stories even consist of hard science fiction with a terrifying twist. Some of the stories are better than others, but all of the tales are dark and entertaining. All in all, Nobody is a good horror anthology and would make a nice addition to a horror section of any library.  Recommended for personal and public library collections.

Stories Include:

Gamblers Anonymous by Gregory L. Norris

The Janitor by Tracy L. Carbone

Through His Eyes by Pam Martin-Kingsley

The Wrong Box by Coralie Hughes Jensen

Trick or Treat by Brenna Lyons

Emmett by Scott T. Goudsward

Phantom Dreams by Brenna Lyons

The Bells of Lyonese by Coralie Hughes Jensen

Body Hunger by A. E. Martineau

The Box of Love and Hatred by Gregory L. Norris

It's 3:00 AM by Pam Martin-Kingsley

Personal Demons by Kelly Gunter Atlas

The Bone Keeper by Coralie Hughes Jensen

Rose-Colored Glasses by Tracy L. Carbone

Within an Inch of Life by Mellisa Sherlin

Thanks for the Memories by A. E. Martineau

Anima Ex Machina by Brenna Lyons

Dark Cold by Scott T. Goudsward


Contains: Violence

Review by Bret Jordan




One Hand Screaming by Mark Leslie
Stark Publishing, 2004
ISBN: 0973568801

Available: New
    One Hand Screaming is a fine collection of short stories and poems, with an extra inside glimpse into why the author chose to write each of the stories. This book is sure to capture the imagination of almost any reader. The terrifying collection includes almost zombie-like tales,  ghostly hauntings,  and stories of psychological horror and supernatural happenings. At the back of the book is a nice collection of information, l where Mr. Leslie gives the reader a little background on the cover image and on each story.  The stories themselves are a unique blend of horrifying tales, with a twist of humor that provides and interesting contrast between screams and laughter.  Leslie's stories are also thought provoking in a way that is uncommon in many horror publications. One Hand Screaming is a thoroughly enjoyable read.  Recommended for public libraries. Contains: Gore, Violence, Rape

Review by Bret Jordan



Living Shadows by John Shirley

Wildside Press, 2007

ISBN: 080955786X
Available: New

    When an author produces a work that haunts me long after I read it, I tend to be hooked on that author forever. John Shirley’s novel Wet Bones made me feel uncomfortable as I read it, and it haunts me still. When I picked up Living Shadows I was nervous as I always am when I crack open a work by John Shirley. That nervous feeling is a testament to his skill. I knew I was in for a ride through the darkness.

While he is best known for being one of the first authors within the Cyber Punk genre, John Shirley is also one of the most gifted short story writers of the horror genre. In 1998 Shirley put together a short story anthology called Black Butterflies, which was named one of the best books of the year by Publishers Weekly, and won both the International Horror Guild and the Bram Stoker awards.

Living Shadows is the latest collection of John Shirley’s short fiction and fits perfectly on the shelf with his previous award-winning collection. Featuring works that span his career, this anthology is a wonderful introduction to Shirley, and a must-have for long-time fans. Much like Black Butterflies, the book is divided into two halves: the first half grounded in a gritty reality and the second in different levels of the fantastic.

In his stories, Shirley creates characters not often found in horror fiction. Social misfits and junkies are treated like real people, not cartoons. With an unblinking eye, Shirley treats us to worlds that are uncomfortable, loaded with drama and black humor. Shirley pulls it off perfectly, so you find yourself naturally flipping pages.


Several of the stories in Living Shadows present a clear statement about the negative effect of apathy, but nothing is heavy-handed. "Blind Eye", the first story of the second half, was originally in Poe’s Lighthouse. Here John Shirley has had the pleasure of finishing an Edgar Allen Poe story which was left without an ending, and the blending is done seamlessly. For this reader, the true stand-outs in the anthology are "Isolation Point, California, "a dystopian tale whose concept slapped me in the face, and the novella Buried in the Sky, which shows Shirley doing what he does best in his novels - blending an intense tale of Lovecraftian horror and strong characters with an interesting story arc, suspense, and a social justice message.

For fans of original horror fiction that has something important to say, Living Shadows is a must-have.

Contains: Murder, suicide, drug abuse. 

Review by David Agranoff





Right House on the Left by Steve Vernon, Mark McLaughlin, and L.L. Soares

Novello Publishers,2005


Available: New

    Right House on the Left is a deluxe chapbook with three imaginative tales mixing humor and horror.  The first is "The Outhouse on the Edge of Forever," by Steve Vernon, where a mystical outhouse built for a community picnic becomes the source of some inspired horror and hilarity.   "Don't Look in the Little Storage Room Behind the Furnace," by Mark McLaughlin, takes many of the horror fiction staples and parodies them in a tale about a family moving into a house with a haunted past.  Finally, "in the Blood Splattered Mirror Ball," by L.L. Soares,  an exclusive club becomes haunted by the fun-loving spirits of some unpopular people who had always been refused admittance.   The chapbook presents a wide variety of writing styles and tales and they all work well for those who are familiar with the horror genre. The chapbook is perfect for horror fans and  recommended for libraries that support a large community of horror readers. 

Contains:  some gore.     


Nothing to Lose by Steve Vernon, illus. by Alex McVey
Nocturne Press, 2007
ISBN: 0977656063
Available: New
    In a town that would give Batman the creeps, an unlikely superhero emerges. He doesn’t leap over buildings in a single bound, his budget doesn’t allow for a utility belt, and he doesn’t tingle when danger is near. In fact, there isn’t really anything supernatural about this superhero, unless his bad attitude, lack of fear, or his almost insane mental state count as superpowers. Captain Nothing is a man on the brink, fighting crime wherever he runs across it, or when it runs across him. Nothing to Lose contains three short stories, told from the superhero’s point of view. Although the book is short, only sixty-five pages, each story hits like a hammer. At times the stories are a bit unbelievable, but would it be a superhero story if they weren’t? Nothing to Lose also contains bonus art by Alex McVey that demonstrates some concept versions of Captain Nothing. Note: Although this is a superhero story, it is not intended for children. Recommended for public and private libraries. 
Contains: Gore, Violence, Rape, Sex, Suicide

Review by Bret Jordan


Echoes of Terror selected by Katherine Smith, Garrett Peck, and Giovanna Lagana

Lachesis Publishing, 2007

ISBN: 18973700607

Available: New

    Echoes of Terror lives up to its title. All of the stories in this anthology were captivating, terrifying and entertaining. Within its pages, readers will discover homicidal maniacs, lycanthropes, flesh devouring aliens, drug dealing insects, protective and restless ghosts, and a city of snake people. There is a tremendous variety in the types of stories as well. “Clown School” by J. Edward Tremlett, is the story of a father and daughter stopping in to use the phone at a remote school for clowns, only to find that the clowns are taught that to achieve the highest levels of humor the highest levels of pain must also be achieved. “Door Bitch” by Dave Field is another excellent example of the horror within these pages. A woman hurts her vertebrae in a car accident and can only move her eyes. When a lascivious paramedic gets her and announces that she is dead she realizes that she might be in the hands of someone who is not what they seem to be. In “Tempest” by Matt Hults, two couples are hiking near a lake when an eerie storm crops up with rain that burns and smokes when it lands on trees and flesh. They find shelter in a lake house only to realize that the rain is the lesser of two evils. I would highly recommend Echoes of Terror to anyone who loves terror and variety. Strongly recommended for both public and private libraries.

Stories Include:

Looks Like a Rat to Me by Nicholas Grabowskyr.

With Love, Veronica by Ken Goldman

Eating Crow by Garrett Peck

Fowl Play by Keith Gouveia

Bug Powder by Meghan Jurado

When Black Fades to Grey by Andrea Dean Van Scoyoc

November Girls by Katherine Smith

Clown School by J. Edward Tremlett

Crushing Giles by J. Stephen C. Hallen

Door Bitch by Dave Field

Tempest by Matt Hults

A Baker’s Dozen by Nancy Jackson

Interludes by Jodi Lee

One Hell of a Deal by Giovanna Lagana

Ice Cold Shakes by John Everson

Contains: Violence, Gore, Sex. Review by Bret Jordan

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