- File Size: 2191 KB
- Print Length: 400 pages
- Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
- Publisher: Laughing Crow Media (June 27, 2016)
- Publication Date: June 27, 2016
- Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
- Language: English
- ASIN: B01HOW0UHY
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Lending: Enabled
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #667,195 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Cookies for the Gentleman by C.T. Phipps: This is my idea of a quintessential horror short story. Clever, expertly paced, and stingy with the details until the very end, this story packs a wallop. Easily one of my favorites.
History's End by Frank Tayell: A scientists well-intentioned act quickly goes awry with world-shattering consequences. This story is another one that straddles horror and thriller themes. It's well-written, an enjoyable read, and provides a believable back story to the events of a full-length work.
A Mother's Nightmare by J. Rudolph: A mother tries to shepherd her children across a land overcome by zombies. A connected story to her work in the first anthology, A Mother's Nightmare continues to build the character of Cali Anglin. While not my cup of tea personally, Cali comes across as an authentic character with conflicting emotions and fears as she does her best to protect her children and hold on to her memories of them before the apocalypse.
Patient 63 by Stevie Kopas: A zombie story/love tale with an unusual pairing of love interests. As with my experience reading her story in the first volume of this series, Ms. Kopas excels in character development. Well-written and appealing, this one should resonate with a lot of people.
Tyrannical Ascension: An extension of her Time of Death books, this covers the rise to power of the main villain who appears in Book 2: Asylum. While a good addition to the mythology of the Time of Death world, this story does not play to her strength of creating likeable characters who you want to root for to survive. Not a bad story at all, but seeing things from the villain's eyes did not grip me in the same way as he story in the first volume.
Ink by James Crawford: This story is a deviation from his "Blood Soaked and Contagious" series that covers a very peculiar tattoo artist and the effect his work has on others. It's mysterious and creepy with a story that slowly unfolds over the course. Well worth a read.
The Man with Four Scars by Stephen Kozeniewski: Caveman meets zombies in a one man showdown with a world infected by something far beyond what the main characters primitive mind could grasp. While the story felt a little slow to get going, Kozeniewski has an unquestionable talent for both his character development and giving them living, breathing quirks and affectations that make them feel truly real. A good break from the typical zombie story as well.
Daddy's Girl By Ian McClellan: A drug dealer finds out that he's bitten off more than he can chew when he gets caught up with a local gang leader who is more than he seems. McClellan is a good storyteller, and his writing is top-notch. This story, however, felt a bit too heavy on shock value vs. the kind of creeping horror that I usually enjoy.
Operation Devil Walk by David Mickolas: A British WWII Commando team infiltrates a secret Nazi ritual that uses a disturbing type of magic. This is a great "Weird War" kind of story with plenty of tension, believable action, and no small amount of chills. I'll be looking for more of this guy.
The Infected by S.G. Lee: Grey's Anatomy meets zombies in a hospital when a group of doctors compete for a promotion and bit off more than they can chew. A good young adult/medical drama take on zombies that will satisfy anyone looking for something a little bit different.
Forget Me Never by Sharon Stevenson: An up-and-coming actress reveals the unconventional secret to her success. Like Cookies for the Gentleman, this story hits that precise balance of revelation and secrecy that makes a good short story. Highly recommended.
Mirage by Sean Smith: A sci-fi diversion from his "Wrath" series, this stream of consciousness tale tells the story of a stranded survivor of crashed starship. While a bit too abstract for me, the piece is written to Mr. Smith's usual great standard, and the twist at the end is cool and unexpected.
The Millstone by Lesa Kinney Anders: A vampire tale with a twist that I can't reveal without ruining it. Well written and characterized, the story is another fine addition to the series, especially with its Dusk Til Dawn/Vampires southwestern feel.
Genesis by Kit Power: A prelude to a full-length novel GODBOMB finds the narrator attempting to track down his missing father and exact revenge on an unexpected enemy. While well-written and the author has talent, the story did not quite strike me as horror. There seems to be a subtext that will be explored in the novel that may have a more supernatural bent, but I did not quite see it here. Not bad by any means, but this one did not resonate with me.
Lockdown by TM Caldwell: A school teacher tries her best to protect her students amid a school lockdown that quickly proves to be something far beyond a student with a knife. There's a slight twist on the typical zombie behavior that is novel, and the story's pacing, language, and plot are good. Not quite a standout from other zombie stories, it is still entertaining.
Collection Night by Curran Geist: A truck driver receives an urgent message from his wife and comes home to find out that something very sinister has descended on his home. The story has a cool twist, and it injects an eerie atmosphere into the proceedings, but it takes a bit too long to get where it's going. Despite that quibble, the story is a solid entry.
The Cold by Devan Sagliani: A junkie unexpectedly inherits his sick father's home in isolated Colorado only to find out that the man was experimenting with dark forces to try and avoid death. Creepy and with an authentic voice, the main character feels real. While the ending feels a bit too quick, this is a polished short story.
A Different Cocktail by Claire C. Riley: A man tries to impress a women by going along with a bizarre ritual that lands him in an unexpected and horrifying situation. A story told from a different perspective than normal, Ms. Riley draws the reader into the mind of the narrator and gets to see his slow realization that he's made a big mistake. Well worth a read.
A Song to Sing in Babylon: Matthew Baugh and Bobbie Metevier: In the apocalypse, intelligent monsters work to bring their God back to reign on earth. Of all the stories, I'm sorry to say that this is the one that did not resonate with me. It felt like part of a larger novel and I didn't quite understand some of the references and "lore" that the authors were going for. Not badly written, but it felt too fragmented to follow properly.
The Gouger by Paul Mannering: A sadistic fisherman finds his past coming back to his haunt him. Another tautly written story with a handful interesting characters that pop up. The horror aspects of the story take a little while in coming, but are satisfying when they do.
Ultimately, this collection had a lot of solid stories and a lot of meat for the price. When all the proceeds go to a great charity, it's hard to go wrong with this one.
While I appreciate stories that add to a bigger world, there is something about the stand alone tale, especially in the horror genre, that makes it compelling. Sometimes the smaller slices of hell are the most dark and make you despair the most. That is why this volume has stepped up its game over the first volume. So many of these stories sucked me in, chewed me up, and spit me back out. Brutal like an assault in a back alley, they leave you dazed and curled up in the fetal position, whimpering and shivering in fear.
If purchasing this anthology was nothing more than an excuse to donate to a worthy cause, I’d have been happy to chip in. The cause is an excellent one: The Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund. But this anthology is also worth the price of admission because the stories on its pages are worthy of the investment, charity or no charity involved.
Here is a quick synopsis of each tale included in this work.
Pulse by Mark Tufo: A scientist builds a better mousetrap. Well, a better way to kill bugs. Unfortunately, it has an affinity for killing other living beings as well.
Cookies for the Gentleman by C.T. Phillips: A tale madness and desperation that spirals into a very dark, grim place for narrator…a place that threatens to suck the reader in along with him.
By Any Means Necessary by Evin Ager: An army grunt guarding terrorists at a secret military prison discovers the inmates are being used for some very unscrupulous supernatural testing.
History’s End by Frank Tayell: The best intentions to save mankind from itself can have the most drastic, unforeseen consequences.
A Mother’s Nightmare by J. Rudolph: Could you cope with the loss of all you hold dear? What would you do if you were faced with crushing despair that comes with the destruction of all that you love?
Patient 63 by Stevie Kopas: Infection transforms most of the world into subhuman monsters. Humanity fights back, discovering a cure. The question then becomes whether the infection is the villain or humanity itself?
Tyrannical Ascension by Shana Festa: We return to the author’s Time of Death zombie apocalypse series and are introduced to the man who would be king, or at least someone who has designs on such status in a world overrun by the undead.
Ink by James Crawford: The world’s most elite tattoo artist creates his masterpiece on a living canvas. The man blessed with this art is also cursed with an unquenchable desire to find the hidden meaning behind its dark beauty, to the everlasting despair of anyone who crosses his path.
The Man with Four Scars by Stephen Kozeniewski: Assures the reader that the undead have been with us long before Romero introduced them. A caveman discovers a recently crashed meteorite and the strange effects it has on his tribe.
Daddy’s Girl by Ian McClellan: Reiterates the sage advice that it is best not to judge thy neighbor for their sins when you yourself are a sinner…even if your neighbor might be a malevolent supernatural being.
Operation Devil Walk by David Mickolas: That the Nazis sought out supernatural assistance to give them more power to defeat their enemies is well established. Their hatred for Jews is undisputed. The idea of combining those two things is horrific.
The Infected by S.G. Lee: A naïve young doctor falls for the manipulations of an ultra-competitive and ultra-sleazy coworker while working on experimental medical treatments that could extend the viability of organs used in transplants.
Forget Me Never by Sharon Stevenson: Fame is never everlasting. Or is it? Some are willing to kill for it and to even keep killing to maintain it.
Mirage by Sean T. Smith: A twisty, tragic sci-fi tale of giving up and giving in…when your goal is tantalizingly just out of reach…or is that perhaps just a mirage?
The Millstone by Lesa Kinney Anders: We all have our burdens. It’s said that if you save someone’s life, you are responsible for them for them forever. Is the same true if you destroy their life?
Genesis by Kit Power: How far would you be willing to go to show God how cheated you feel when you beg, plead, and pray for intervention, only get ignored time and again?
Lockdown by TM Caldwell: What’s a teacher to do when the dead have risen and are roaming the halls of the school? Especially if you are on lockdown and you have a room full of panicked grade-schoolers to look after?
Collection Night by Curran Geist: How far would you go to protect your wife and child? How dark could the nightmare become before you lost your nerve?
The Cold by Devan Sagliani: Life can suck. Whether by your own doing or if you choose to blame everyone else for your failures, it can always suck just a little bit more…especially if you accidentally dabble with the supernatural.
A Different Cocktail by Claire C. Riley: Sure, I’d be skeptical too about a ritual that promises to bring forth a vampire master, but if you want to get lucky with a goth girl, why not partake in the ‘blood’ you’ve been offered that is supposed to summon him? What’s the worst that could happen?
A Song to Sing in Babylon by Bobbie Metevier & Matthew Baugh: The old world is dying and change is painful…not only for the human race but those who have hidden in the shadows for generations. Humans believe that God is punishing us while the others believe they are being rewarded with a world transformed into something more accommodating. But what if they’re both wrong?
The Gouger by Paul Mannering: Somewhat reminiscent of the Stephen King short story, “The Mangler”, the Gouger is a grinder used to liquefy fish guts and anything else fishermen bring to the Makula Bay Fishing Co-op. It’s also Tommy Malone’s favorite machine. He loves to watch it consume and dreams of it consuming the world.
Overall, horror anthologies tend to be a mixed bag. I tend to rate them on overall experience, though it often takes only one story that leaves me squirming in discomfort to satisfy me. Naturally, not every story resonates with every reader, and for me this anthology was no exception. A few stories just didn’t hit the mark for me. With that said, the majority did, and I’m happy (or perhaps disconcerted?) to say that several left me squirming. So this book is a double whammy: the proceeds are going to a very worthy charity and the book itself is a worthy read.
I'm kind of done with everything being zombies, but Caldwell did a gave them a few things that I haven't seen much of, if at all. Without spoiling things, the zombies in this are floppy, like rigor mortis has come and gone, or never really happened. The zombies also seemed to have a certain amount of residual memory of tasks they performed in life.
The story has a good amount of detail without being too wordy, which is nice. Though I would have liked to have learned more about the world, but then I'm more of a novel person then a short story person, so that's no surprise.
Other stories I've read so far include one about a bunch of soldiers on a secret base with some very disturbing experiments going on, a scientific discovery that goes very wrong, and another zombie story done as a suicide note, which I enjoyed for the interesting approach to setting the scene as much as for the story itself, which was haunting.
The anthology has a lot of different stories in a number of different styles, which makes finding something to fit your tastes a lot easier!
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