Top positive review
Thirty Twisted Horror Stories from Brilliant Women Authors
Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on February 15, 2021
I am a huge fan of horror anthologies and women writers, which makes the Kandisha Press books a perfect fit for me. I’ve waited for months for this follow-up to Graveyard Smash, Vol. 2, and now I’m kinda sad all the reading is done. But of course, the good news is I can re-read whenever I want (and I absolutely will, especially with my favorites of the bunch). Also check out the foreword by Gwendolyn Kiste, one of my favorite authors, who states so well why supporting women in horror is not only important but also a no-brainer when so much talent is out there, awaiting the attention it deserves.
This is such a diverse anthology, offering every type of horror imaginable. I was also pleasantly surprised by the amount of sci-fi and dystopian picks, a sub-genre I enjoy but definitely need to read more of in the future. Each of these writers are incredibly talented, some I already loved from previous stories—many featured in other volumes by Kandisha Press—but for the ones I hadn’t discovered until now... congrats, you have a new fan!
Because each of these stories is special, I want to briefly touch on them. I highly recommend this anthology to fans of any type of horror (I promise, your favorite subgenre will be represented somehow). And to anyone looking for #WIHM picks or who simply wants to read more from women horror writers, you need this book in your life.
“Heavy Metal Coffin” by Amira Krista Calvo – As a woman with a metal-loving, guitarist boyfriend, this story hit all the right notes for me (yeah, I know...punny. Couldn’t help myself!). This is a must-read for metal fans, a tale of the dark side of rock and the perils of obsession.
“Bodiless” by Faith Pierce – Inventive and highly disturbing story, perfect for fans of feminine dystopian nightmares like The Handmaid’s Tale. The lead character inspires a ton of empathy, and it was a surprisingly moving read.
“Minor Malfunction” by KC Grifant – A woman has a fancy new prosthetic, a red arm better than any she’s had before, but not everyone loves the addition as much as her. This was such a fun story with a great ending.
“The Incident on Asteroid 4 Pandora” by Stevie Kopas – A crew on a spaceship find an interesting new specimen, fascinating for them all—particularly a young scientist who’s being sexually harassed by a foul co-worker. Awesome ending, and ideal for fans of sci-fi/space horror.
“The Lady Crow” by Lucy Rose – A lonely, submissive housewife is visited by a pesky crow who seems to have a message, but what could it mean? One of the shorter offerings here, so I don’t want to give spoilers, but it’s definitely a cool read.
“The Recliner” by Marsheila Rockwell – A five-year-old boy’s terrified of the living room recliner, but Mama works all the time and has her own troubles. What can he do? I know, an evil chair doesn’t sound scary, but trust me, this kid has good reason to worry!
“Call of the Tide” by Demi-Louise Blackburn – A painter grows disconnected from the world, lost to her work, drifting from her husband and home, mesmerized by the ocean’s call. A haunting, beautifully atmospheric tale.
“Date Night Ablaze” by Rowan Hill – Dating often sucks, and this woman living in the Australian outback already has the odds stacked against her. Will this handsome ranch hand be the one or will she be disappointed again?
“Shell” by Barrington Smith-Seetachitt – An older woman visits a spa to rejuvenate her appearance and her life, gaining far more than she bargained for, but can she fix her problems just by making herself beautiful again? Such a cool story with a dark surprise at the end.
“From Scratch” by Sonora Taylor – We all have hobbies to keep us on the straight and narrow. For Heather, it’s cooking. But sometimes, even the best hobbies can’t fully satisfy. Omg, stop me from saying too much! I loved everything about this story. Sonora hit it out of the park again, for sure.
“Invasive Species” by Dawn DeBraal – A woman receives a mysterious packet of seeds in the mail, and why not give them a try? After all, the big gardening competition is coming up and she needs to beat her pesky neighbor. I’ve not read many stories about nature horror, but this one is awesome enough that I’ll search for more like it.
“Josephine” by Michelle Renee Lane – A celebrated porn star meets her match one night in Berlin, enthralled by her handsome new co-star. Could this lead to more than just a working relationship? I also really enjoyed this story, so inventive with a fun surprise at the end.
“Lure” by Catherine McCarthy – I love the creepiness of 2nd person PoV when it’s done right. This follows a fisherman with a dark secret, absolutely chilling and dripping with tension. If you’re not already a fan of Catherine McCarthy, this story will make you one.
“The Thrill of the Hunt” by Villimey Mist – A killer is out and about, looking to scratch his itch again. He finds the perfect victim, or so he thinks... Dark, twisty with a satisfying ending.
“Simba of the Suburbs” by Ashely Burns – Who doesn’t love stories about kids with special powers, especially when it leads to trouble? What a great read, something that would fit so well in The Twilight Zone.
“Rippers” by Ellie Douglas – Do you like gory, horrific monster tales? Did you love the fast-paced terror of Train to Busan (not that this has zombies, but it does have a train)? Hop into this story and brace yourself!
“Liked” by Mocha Pennington – A woman is trapped, a victim of online obsession she’s desperate to escape. This story was riveting, unsettling, and will keep you biting your nails til the very end.
“The Lady of the House” by Yolanda Sfetsos – I was hooked from the opening line: “When Spencer Mori first came into Ophelia’s life, she thought he was a real boy.” I’m already a fan of Yolanda, and her gorgeous gothic tale was a joy to read and reminded me of a classic fairy tale.
“Should Have Gone to Vegas” by Janine Pipe – Do you like buddy tales that go wrong? Fan of Adam Nevill’s The Ritual, perhaps, or unusual creatures? This story was laugh-out-loud funny, wickedly dark, and another reason why I will always read whatever Janine Pipe releases.
“Atla’s Journey” by Carmen Baca – I was delighted to discover this story, having thoroughly enjoyed “The Child” in Graveyard Smash which also stars Atla. If you loved that one, then I promise you’ll enjoy this too.
“Nightcrawler” by Ushasi Sen Basu – Ahhh, I don’t know how to describe this one without giving out spoilers. If you’re a fan of things that go bump in the night, stalking the darkness while we sleep, you should absolutely love this one!
“Little Sally Ann” by Shawnna Deresch – A couple on the rocks buy a new home together, preparing to flip it as they’ve done before. But something else lives there and has other plans... Such a cool twist on the haunted house story, perfect for fans of HGTV!
“Bramblewood” by Meg Hafdahl – A girl walks away from her toxic boyfriend, fed up and ready to hitchhike her way to a new life. Maybe she’s found a way out at last? Another nail-biter, and I can’t reveal much but this is creepy as hell.
“Cold Comfort” by Amy Grech – A man wakes up after a wild one-night stand, and the consequences definitely deviate from the expected path. Catchy and different, another with an ending I didn’t see coming.
“Kiss” by R.A. Busby – A doctor recalls a story of his “most terrifying patient” over drinks with friends, all happily ensconced by the fire. Beautifully gothic, reminiscent of a Poe story, this one will stick with you long after reading.
“The Last Thread” by Paula R.C. Readman – Another entertaining mix of sci-fi and horror, complete with space pirates, a distress call from a seemingly abandoned place, a mysterious woman, and a pilot desperate to save his trusty ship. Fun for all!
“The Letter” by Lydia Prime – A pregnant woman receives a mysterious letter in a black envelope, and her bright world is turned suddenly upside down. I’ve never been pregnant, but I can imagine this story will resurrect the worst nightmares of any expectant mothers.
“Piano Keys and Sugar” by Hadassah Shiradski – Two children cling to each other, hiding from the torments of their cruel mother. This one is brutal but wrapped in dreamlike prose, perfect for fans of the darkest fairy tales like myself.
“Dear Meat” by J Snow – A dystopian nightmare unfolds, a world where overpopulation demands drastic and horrifying rules from the oppressive government. This one grips hard and doesn’t let go, absolutely engrossing.
“The One That Got Away” by Rebecca Rowland – Remember how I mentioned above that I love 2nd person POV when done right? Well yeah, this is another great example. Creepy, sinister, and yet kinda playful as if the story is a cat and you’re the mouse. Wonderful pick to wrap up the entire fantastic anthology!