Posts Tagged ‘Anthology’

Collected Christmas Horror Shorts (Collected Horror Shorts Book 1)

November 15, 2018 - 4:33 am No Comments

Collected Christmas Horror Shorts (Collected Horror Shorts Book 1)
Published by Kevin J Kennedy on 30th November 2016
260 pages

It’s still only November and TV is awash with Christmas ads so to get me in the mood than reading an anthology of Christmas Horror shorts. With a mixture of 24 stories and poems, this book will certainly bring some Christmas cheer to Horror lovers. With so many stories I will still be writing this review on Christmas Eve so for time purposes, I am going to pick the ones that stood out for me. This was a difficult choice as they were all good reads.
Naughty or Nice by Veronica Smith: The story of Robert whilst he was working one night at Kmart. You notice as soon as Halloween has passed the shops start to sell Christmas merch and the Kmart was no difference. The story has killers that are unexpected and whilst they start out quite comical, it isn’t long until you know they mean business.
All Naughty, No Nice by Michael A Arnzen: What happens if Santa still spread his magic in a zombie world. This story had a sense of sorrow to it as you knew how despondent Santa was
Merry Fuckin’ Christmas by Kevin J Kennedy: What starts out with a regular guy preparing for Christmas soon changes into a tale of revenge. This story was heartbreaking and what one tragic accident can result in. The killings were described in detail and will have you thinking what would you do.
Hung With Care by Ty Schwamberger: A family gets a surprise from Santa. I enjoyed the Bad Santa and the real reason why Santa visits on Christmas Eve. The unique decoration above the fireplace completed the story
Killing Christmas by Andrew Lennon: We all know people like Jeff, in fact, I am like him. I get fed up how Christmas comes earlier every year and as soon as Halloween is over Christmas is rammed down our throats, but what happens to Jeff, does have you worried.
The Last Christmas Dinner by Christine Bergling: For Susan, preparing Christmas dinner is one of the busiest times of the year. This story builds up to a surprise ending and you are drawn into what you think is a happy Christmas celebration.
Whilst I have not mentioned the others, that doesn’t mean that I did not enjoy them. There are plenty of stories that will keep you busy over the festive season, and whether you like Christmas or not this book will please horror readers whatever your taste in horror is as this book cover most of the sub-genres. I have the all the collected short stories and I find it is a good way to read authors work that I have not come across.

Dead Reckoning and other stories by Dino Parenti

October 17, 2018 - 7:41 pm No Comments

Dead Reckoning and other stories by Dino Parenti
Published by Crystal Lake Publishing on 5th October 2018
226 pages

Regardless of whether I recognise the author, I always purchase any book published by Crystal Lake Publishing. Dead Reckonings and other stories featuring 16 short stories that some could be in the news today.
Like all anthologies there were some stories that stood out for me. From the seventies Two Boys in a Diner- Vic and his younger brother Jimmy are in a diner reminiscing about family, death and old times. As there is only 2 characters, you really get to know them and whilst brothers and brought up together, they are like chalk and cheese. It is not till the end that the true reason of their visit to the diner is revealed.
From the eighties Dead Reckoning- The story opens with a policeman being dragged by a priest on a horse. The story swaps between past and present with ease and as you read this story you find out exactly what the policeman had done to deserve this treatment and why the priest felt the need to dish out the punishment. This story does make you think, was either in the wrong, was their actions justified.
From the nineties Savior- Following a vet disfigured from war, trying to make a living and his fascination with a performer from the visiting fair. There was a feel of sorrow to this story. The main character was hidden away due to his serious injuries. When he performed with his disguise it reminded me of the elephant man and the prejudice that people had for him. Did he do the right thing, I am still undecided.
Jumping to the post-apocalyptic story On the Fickle Nature of Germination. A discovery of 2 ancient bodies trapped between the ice and the outbreak of a devastating flu. Is there a link. This story was one that could be more fact than fiction, as remains get excavated what diseases could be unearthed. This was a quick pace story just like the outbreak.
There was the odd story that I could not get in to, but this did not stop me liking the book. A nice touch was that some of the stories had a low-key link, either by an odd line or action which if like me you read the whole book from cover to cover you will spot straight away.
These stories had a mixture of genres, that would please the readers of dark fiction. Whilst I was writing this review I was checking on amazon to see his other published work and I am surprised that this was his first.

The Outsiders by Stephen Bacon, James Everington. Gary Fry, VH Leslie and Rosanne Rabinowitz

September 4, 2018 - 9:15 pm No Comments

The Outsiders by Stephen Bacon, James Everington. Gary Fry, VH Leslie and Rosanne Rabinowitz
Published by Crystal Lake Publishing on 4th May 2015
226 pages

For about a year I have read every new anthology Crystal Lake has published, however, having not read any of the early publications, I thought I would rectify this by reading The Outsiders. 5 authors writing about The Priory, a secluded estate set in the UK and home to a Lovecraftian cult and run by Charles Erich.

Opening with an introduction from Kevin Lucia, which sets the scene and gets you in the mood to sit and enjoy these 5 stories.

The Subprime by Gary Fry: Finance is a cut throat industry, but Lee at the age of 19 was doing well except for one thing he had a conscious. Mr Philips, his boss hopes to persuade him not to leave by inviting him to a dinner party at his home in the Priory. This is our first meeting with the folk at the Priory and whilst the author at the start made them seem pretty normal as the story continued you could sense they were itching for a kill.

Impossible Colours by James Everington: Michala Bruce is a community officer patrolling Exham and takes an interest in the Priory after Marty Young kills himself. The story describes the effects of the cult, strange flashing colours and the residents being more in a trance. Telling part of the story through Marty’s journal enabled the reader to see both sides of the story and you are left wandering what happened to Michala.

Stolen from the Sea by Stephen Bacon: Ryan was the salesman for the Priory, getting donations for the cause and persuading to join them. A chance meeting with Natalie starts out as friendship, but when Ryan’s son tragically dies their friendship turns into so much more. Written with sensitivity this story looks at grief and religion and regardless of the religion, people will question their faith at times of sorrow.

Precious Things by VH Leslie: Petra and Bernard both retired, moved into the Priory. Married for a long time Petra was used to Bernard’s eccentricity and his love of rocks kept him busy for ages. But when he started locking himself in his study for a long period of time and having secret meetings with Charles Erich, she became worried. This story built up to a dramatic ending and showcased the power of love that Petra had for her husband

Meat, Motion and Light by Rosanne Rabinowitz: Claudia was away at University when her mom asked her to return to the Priory. Reluctant to give up her freedom, she went home to find out what was going on. Following Claudia’s story, you get an understanding that her childhood was not fun. More was written about the creature and the effects it had on the residents. With references to characters and incidents from the previous stories this was the perfect story to finish this anthology.

This was a quick read and whilst it is horror, it wasn’t usually from the creature that lived under the grounds. These stories showed the good and bad of human nature and the effects of the cult on everyone who encountered them. A good read which enabled me to get my fix of short stories

Lost Highways: Dark Fictions from the Road

July 21, 2018 - 4:55 pm No Comments

Lost Highways: Dark Fictions from the Road
Published by Crystal Lake Publishing on 20th July 2018

Following on from Gutted, C.H.U.D. Lives and other anthologies from Crystal Lake comes Lost Highways. A bumper collection of 26 short stories with one thing in common the open road.
With so many stories I was spoilt for choice, but some of my favourites were:
Not From Detroit by Joe R Lansdale: An elderly couple are very much in love. This is a beautifully written story and so heart-warming. This story that love will conquer all even in the face of death.
Jim’s Meats by Kelli Owen: A couple are on a road trip and are running out of petrol, but pulling over at a petrol station, just made it dangerous. This story built the tension up to the final chase. This is a story I would love to be a full novel. Whilst a lot is unknown about the Jim’s meat and the residents of the town, your imagination can join the dots.
Your Pound of Flesh by Nick Kolakowski: Hitchhikers are a regular feature in road trip stories but this story had a twist when Jill Cafferty stopped to pick up a young girl in distress. This story takes you on the hunt for a serial killer. Incorporated in this story was the difficult topic of domestic violence which was handled with sensitivity. The author takes you on an emotional journey which near the end will have you picking up speed to find out what happens. The twist to the story was a surprise and the ending made the story whole.
Having read the majority of Crystal Lakes anthologies, I knew that I need to add to my collection when this was released. Whilst I recognised quite a few of the authors, there were still authors I had not read and I admire the dedication that the publisher puts into finding the various authors to keep anthology fresh. As usual the art work on the cover and in the book was exquisite. Each story was unique and with various length will keep you captivated throughout your read and possible you may not want to read this if you are planning your own road trip. Although it may be a good survival guide.

Varying Distances by Darren Speegle

March 6, 2018 - 10:08 pm No Comments

Varying Distances by Darren Speegle
Published by Crystal Lake Publishing on 9th February 2018
203 pages

Reviewed by Yvonne Davies

This anthology consists of 12 short stories, each story takes you someplace different. Exploring the mind, individuals psyche, the good and the bad in people.
I did have a couple of favourites stories. Death Paper Burn: Wanting to return home, Wayne persuades his boyfriend to purchase the house which was owned by a gang that caused death and destruction to his family. From the start you get to know what the gang did to Wayne’s family. The story gets darker when drugs are involved and an old school friend turns up at the house.
Twinkle, Twinkle, Amsterdam: Gary Karic is touring Europe, now in Amsterdam, he is taking in the sights. Whilst reading this story, I kept wondering whether he was trying to escape and as the story continues you get to find out what sort of life he had lead. Whilst reading this story, I did feel sorry for Gary and when he hooked with Klara, and with the drug uses, I felt that he had realised who he was.
A Puddle in the Wildnerness: Blaine and Casey are on a canoeing trip when they capsized, what follows is a dramatic event. The family that “rescue” them reminded me of the family from Texas Chainsaw Massacre or the Hills have Eyes. With both Blaine and Casey having different versions of the accident, you are left to decide which is the true version. This was one story I did re-read as I could not decide who told the true story.
Each story is a quick read and if you have read other work by this author you know what to expect. For me I enjoyed the darker stories and I hope to read more of his darker work .