Reviewed in the United States on December 18, 2020
After reading (and loving) Midnight in the Graveyard, I could not wait for this book. And so many authors I already enjoy were on the ToC, so I had extra reason not to resist. This is an excellent collection, with each story being a total win. I would not only read each of these stories again, but I'm also eager to read more by these authors--well, again, those authors I hadn't read before. Several of these authors are already favorites of mine and their chilling, inventive tales only further proved their awesomeness!
For fans of short stories with demons/occult themes offering a mix of creepy, hilarious, moving, and downright horrific tales, I promise you cannot go wrong with this collection!
"The Corn Maidens" by Brian Moreland - A young girl gets exiled from her hometown during the Depression era. But will Hannah Creed be able to start again and finally find acceptance in a new home? Loved this story and Hannah. This is a perfect start to the collection!
"Father MacLeod" by Tony Tremblay - A priest fights to exorcise his nephew, but he's losing the battle. Until the demon makes him an offer he can't refuse. This story was terrific, a unique and horrific take on exorcisms but with surprising splashes of humor.
"Opening the Door" by Kenneth McKinley - Two pickers hit up their next spot, an old cottage they hope is loaded with treasures. They hit the motherload, for sure, but one relic turns out to be far more than they bargained for. Not trying to spoil but the minute they found the record, I literally gasped knowing whatever else happened I would love this story--and I did!
"The Other" by Laurel Hightower - A man experiences a vicious type of night terror/sleep paralysis, loss of time, and is growing increasingly estranged from his wife. What is happening? Well, I won't tell you. But this story, as with anything Ms. Hightower writes, is brilliant. The creeping dread is palpable, and it's one of my absolute favorites of the lot.
"Legion Cast Forth" by Robert Ford - A pig farmer has a special relationship with the local priests, helping them out with some exorcism troubles. Again...no spoilers, but SERIOUSLY! I loved this story, such an original concept, and I will be looking to read more from Mr. Ford.
"Angel Dust" by Shannon Felton - There's a new drug in town, sending a lost girl on a wild and dark adventure to find herself. This was so well written and again, something so original that I thoroughly enjoyed myself throughout.
"What I Wouldn't Give" by Chad Lutzke - A man is trying to make a deal with a demon, but if you think you know how this story will unfold, think again. Chad's stories are always amazing, and this is simply a must-read, especially for fans of horror and rock music. I laughed out loud during many exchanges, even forcing my guitarist/metal fan boyfriend to read along because it was too good not to share.
"Hellseed" by Tim Curran - A woman is about to give birth, but this is no ordinary baby... Creepy as hell, this story is definitely one that will keep you up at night. And maybe make one consider getting some birth control!
"Devil's Ink" by Mark Towse - He just wants to write his story, why won't the world just let him be? Excellent story for people who love the writer as the MC trope in horror.
"Baby Teeth" by Azzurra Nox - Melissa's tale begins with her in prison, sharing the story of her daughter's possession. This story... just wow. Another one of my favorites from the collection, it really messed my head up in so many ways. Absolutely brilliant work by another author who I am dying to read more of!
"My Body" by Wesley Southard - Cynthia's a failed chef turned restaurant critic who has to visit the new French restaurant in her small town. How in the world do they make that food so tasty? As a 25yr restaurant veteran, I instantly love any tale in that setting. This one, though... I've rarely felt such simultaneous hunger and revulsion in my life lol--thank you, Mr. Southard!
"The Red Butcher of Wroclaw" by Graham Masterson - Making a movie is hard, especially when the weather sucks and it seems like nothing will cooperate. Why not spend the time sharing scary local legends? It's all fun and games until it seems the story may be more than just a legend. Super fun story with entertaining characters!
"Dog Eat God" by Kenneth W. Cain - Father Menendez isn't one's ideal priest, but his faith receives the test of a lifetime when Mrs. Brown and her dog visit. This story was another that hooked me with it's blend of horror and humor and totally original plot, so much fun to read!
"The Oubliette of Elie Loyd" by Catherine Cavendish - Mia's on vacation with her boyfriend, but the trip isn't what she hoped for...until she makes a new friend. Elie Loyd is captivating, offering a proper sightseeing tour that's too good to resist--just what Mia wanted! Be careful what you wish for. Another win for Ms. Cavendish, who excels at chilling tales with unexpected twists.
"Discovering Mr. Jones" by Cameron Ulam - A group of guys are hired to clean out a hoarder's home. What they find in the rubble will make your hair stand on end. This story... omg, scary as hell! This is my first time reading anything by Ms. Ulam but I'm definitely a fan now!
"The Gods of Our Fathers" by Todd Keisling - It's bad enough Mary lost her mom and grandfather, but she also lost her connection to their religion. Instead she's stuck with her wicked Dad and Brother and their oppressive beliefs. My heart absolutely broke for Mary, even bringing tears to my eyes. Prepare yourself for reading this one because the emotions it generates will punch you. Beautifully written!
"I Know He Loves Me" by James Newman - Any story that begins with quotes from Love, Actually and The Exorcist has already one me over. Excellent story and such a unique perspective. I've not read Mr. Newman yet, but this was a great introduction to him. I can't wait to read more!
"Second Sight" by Allan Leverone - Rebecca Danvers (love the name!) has been blind for most of her life, but after an eye transplant her life should be perfect... except some side effects pop up that she cannot ignore. Such a great story, and I enjoyed the PoV shift between Rebecca and her husband. The end was super creepy, well done!
"Family Reunion" by Stephanie Ellis - Agnes and her husband are Satanists, and it's time again for the big ritual. But Agnes isn't happy with how the coven is going and decides to do things a little differently this year. Pro-Tip, don't tattle to the Dark Mother unless you're fully prepared for her to get involved and sort out your problem. Loved this wickedly dark tale!
"A Night Above" by John Quick - Just another summons, no big deal the demon thinks... until he's called to a room full of preteen girls eager to have the best satanic ritual ever! As a former preteen girl who played ridiculous occult games with my friends, I felt this story on many levels. A hilarious breath of fun amidst so many super-dark stories, loved it!
"Brujeria" by Michael Patrick Hicks - Marcus Blake is invited to a screening at his much more successful best friend's house, a lost film showing an occult ritual. Tacos, beer, friends, movies--what could go wrong? Excellent story for fans of found footage, I enjoyed every minute!
"White Walpurgis" by Tim Meyer - Marla's hired on to photograph a wedding, which should be a blast. The bride has cancer, so that's a bummer. And it is a little weird they asked for Marla specifically... Nah, it'll be great--everyone loves a wedding, right? Dark and wicked little story with a cool twist!
"Family Business" by Charlotte Platt - Lisa's in charge of the family business now, which we soon realize is more than just the average antique shop. A cute guy brings in a family heirloom, asking for her help, but they're both in for a surprise when another pair of visitors come intent on causing trouble. This was another totally unique story with an exciting buildup to an awesome ending. I would love to read more from this author!
"Flaking Red Paint" by Armand Rosamilia - A new neighbor moves in, creepy and old but he pays good money for lawn mowing and... cat fetching? Dark and twisted little tale that kept me on the edge of my seat!
"Diminishing Returns" by P.D. Cacek - Father Paul is trying to help Miranda cope with the onset of Alzheimer's. But little do they both realize, there's a lot more going on with Miranda than the Alzheimer's... This story packs a good bit of emotion while also delivering the scares, brace yourselves!
"The Story of a Lifetime" by JG Faherty - Nick Leiter's a pretty sleazy guy, a reporter with a drinking problem and a penchant for seducing his interviewees. His next assignment is with Demora Chow, a real high priestess who's more gifted than any other occult figure he's met. And oh boy does she have a surprise for him!
"The Furious Pour" by Amanda Hard - Richard spends an evening drinking with his former brother in law, McLaren, as they mourn the loss of Alice. Both men have some hard truths to share before the night is over, but at least the whiskey will continue to flow. Loved where this story went, as I totally didn't expect it.
"A Virgin Birth" by William Meikle - A student heads to Germanstown, frantic to finish his folklore paper before the deadline. But once he gets there, everything starts falling into place and the beer is fantastic! As a fan of folk horror and beer, I enjoyed this one!
"Complex" by Jason Parent - Carrie and Liam are on a grand nature adventure, hiking with friends and... their messiah? Oh yes, expect some delicious cultish goodness in this one!
"Black Jar Man" by Mark Steensland - Do you want to know about the Black Jar man? Well I sure did, and gobbled this story up so fast my head was spinning. Dark, brutal, terrifying... an amazing tale to keep you awake long after bedtime. I am definitely looking forward to more from this author.
"Babylon Falling" by Brian Keene - It's 2003, war rages in Iraq, Led Zeppelin is playing in the background, and a group of soldiers stumble into a sandstorm... and since it's Brian Keene, you know to brace yourself for one terrifying ride through the darkness. This story is not for the fainthearted, and I'll never think of "Kashmir" the same!
"Express" by Edward M. Erdelac - Dion's a security guard at the Sturgill Building, not a bad job and it's fun to watch the oddball characters go by. But when the oddest one goes upstairs and never comes back down, Dion fills with dread knowing soon enough he'll have to find out what happened.
"Witches' Night" by Owl Goingback - It's 1974 and a group of teenagers begins talking about the biggest movie of the year, The Exorcist--who actually saw it and who's lying to make themselves seem cooler? Yep, I'm totally sold on this story already. Once it continues and the boys meet up with their one female friend, Sally, she invites them to the graveyard for some fun later. It's Witches Night, after all, so it's the time to experiment with her new spell book. Another one of my favorites, this story was so full of emotion and topics I completely related to. I loved Paul and Sally, and I had to see what sort of witchy trouble they got into. Beautiful story from the amazing Mr. Goingback, and a perfect end to the collection.