This collection of short horror/dark fantasy fiction is truly a standout among the horror fiction that I’ve read lately.
Typically, when you read an anthology such as this,you go in with the high hopes that you’ll like about two-thirds of the stories within, but typically any story that is worth remembering can make a book worth reading. But never … NEVER … have I read an anthology in which I’ve been impressed with every single story. Statistically this would just seem so unlikely. A collection, by a single author … perhaps. But a collection of different authors, by an editor whose name I was hitherto unfamiliar with, gathered from a source that I also hadn’t heard of before? No…it just wouldn’t happen.
But it did.
Normally I would start by picking a couple of my favorites and mention them and perhaps why they stood out, and then I would mention a couple that did not appeal to me. But I truly can’t do that here. Even having just written that I was thinking to myself “surely I can pick one or two that really stand out” but then as I look through the titles and think about how much I liked one, I’d see another title and reflect on how much I liked that one, etc etc. From the opening story, “The Puppet Show” by Rick J. Brown, to the closing lines of “Follower” by Danny Rhodes, I was hooked and transfixed. If my arm were to be twist, I would pick as my favorites: “Ghosts Under Glass” by Tracie McBride for its incredible imagery and totally unique ideas, and “The Happiness Toy” by Ray Garton because it seemed so tongue in cheek and creepy at the same time. Who would think of a horror story about a dildo?
The style of horror is different in each story, and the pacing of the stories is unique. Some are sci-fi weird, some are rooted in psychological terror. But all have a bite or an edge to them making them that little bit creepy.
The fact that I liked all the stories is an indication that editor R. J. Cavender and I have very similar tastes and reminds me how important it is for the reader to know who the editor is for any anthology.
This anthology contains the following:
Foreword by Lisa Morton
“The Puppet Show” – Rick J. Brown
“The Exterminators” – Sara Joan Berniker
“A Chainsaw Execution” – Stephen R. George
“I am Meat, I am in Daycare” – Cameron Pierce
“Trapped Light Medium” – Sunil Sadanand
“Apple” – Marc Paoletti
“Next Stop, Babylon” – John Mantooth
“The Garbage Collectors” – Ron McGillvray
“Bound” – Alan Smale
“Drawn” – Daniel L. Naden
“The Station” – Bentley Little
“After” Kealan Patrick Burke
“Consumed” – Michael A. Arnzen
“Obsidian Sea” – Kurt Kirchmeier
“The Living World” – C. Michael Cook
“The Steel Church” – Charles Colyott
“The Apocalypse Ain’t So Bad” – Jeff Strand
“Into The After” – Kurt Dinan
“Ash Wednesday” – Lorne Dixon
“Ghosts Under Glass” – Tracie McBride
“Sporting the Waters of the Bermuda Triangle” – Greggard Penance
“Skin” – Kim Despins
“Santa Maria” – Jeff Cercone
“The Healing Hands of Reverend Wainwright” – Geoffrey L. Mudge
“Exegesis of the Insecta Apocrypha” – Colleen Anderson
“Jerrod Steihl Goes Home” – Ian Withrow
“The Immolation Scene” – John F.D. Taff
“Open Mind Night at the Ritz” – Shane McKenzie
“Footprints Fading in the Desert” – Eric J. Guignard
“The Vulture’s Art” – Benjamin Kane Ethridge
“The Happiness Toy” – Ray Garton
“Follower” – Danny Rhodes
Looking for a good book? If you enjoy reading horror fiction and will only buy one book this year, make it The Best of Horror Library, Volumes 1-5, edited by R.J. Cavender.
I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher, through Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.
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The Best of Horror Library: Volumes 1-5
editor: R. J. Cavender
publisher: Cutting Block Books
paperback, 300 pages