This collection has quite an array of stories, many leant themselves to a similar trait of singularity, one that leaves an individual character against odds with captors, monsters, demons, whatever. Alone can be a frightening idea in itself. Though this idea came around in the these nineteen stories in quite an abundance, I do not mean to suggest that the stories came with the same scenarios, impact, or tact.
There was much to like here and a few that didn’t really tickle me so much. With the table of contents as a guide, some stories stood out more than others.
Living Bargains by Suzanne Church was a grim and rather hopeless tale with a touch of gore and severed heartstrings. Next, Stephanie Bedwell-Grime’s Miles to Go is a classic tale of nature meeting exhaustion, featuring the always welcome double-serving finale. Home ownership and a gifted statue are issues in For Sale by Jonathan Woodrow, and make for a bit of sinister fun for one hapless family. The Last Gardener by Crystal Bourque is a dark tale of work, death, and the cost of failure. Andrew Robertson’s Miira is another classic tale retold, be careful what you wish for, kiddies *insert Crypt Keeper cackle*.
As for major standouts, those that flew above the others, they were Following Marla by John R. Little and The Apple by Shebat Legion. Following Marla worked on an emotional level, encompassing time in a sense beyond rational, comprehendible understanding. It isn’t so much a horror as a dreary tale of lost love set over a supernatural landscape. It was wholly entertaining and surprising at times. The Apple was a story different from all others, borrowing an Anthony Burgess Clockwork Orange appeal while draping it over apocalyptic land of ignorance and oddity. It was thoroughly enjoyable.
As a whole, with the sample size as big as it was, I very much doubt any horror fan could pick this up and not find at least one –most likely more– nugget to enjoy.