Book Review: Bad Pennies by John F. Leonard

bad pennies

Title: Bad Pennies

Author: John F. Leonard

Release date: December 1, 2017

Here we are. December 31, 2020. The shortest longest year of our lives and I’m going to wrap up with a book I should’ve read when it came out. Over the last few years I’ve devoured everything that Leonard has produced, absolutely loving his Scaeth Mythos and the world he’s created.

All the while I’d neglected to see where it all started.

Insane right?

What I liked: ‘Bad Pennies’ follows Chris Carlisle on a typical day of his dreary life. Only today is unlike the rest. Today he witnesses an accident and comes into position of a wallet that seemingly has magical powers.

From here Leonard shows how coming into possession with a Dead Box artifact causes ripples that flow outwards from the persons life, as well as how the artifact completely penetrates the holders mind.

I loved seeing how the Scaeth came to be and while we don’t get a complete origins story, we do get enough to put the pieces together. Leonard writes characters that you immediately feel like you’ve know for years and this one was great to see how Chris’ story ARC played out.

I also loved seeing how now having read his other work, the Scaeth has wormed its way into the surrounding areas and after reading Leonard’s story in ‘Diabolical Britannica’ earlier this year, I’m excited to see what the next chapter will hold.

Additionally the world between the walls, the Rat King and the Thing White Man all really elevated the surrounding ‘complimentary’ aspects of all things in this Mythos.

What I didn’t like: It was a minor thing, but throughout the first 3/4 we get some random police interview reports and while it worked to further the story and the incidents that occurred, the format wasn’t completely necessary. It would’ve easily been facilitated the same way as if it had been a flash forward.

Why you should buy this: This was the first chapter in an ever growing and evolving world that Leonard has created and this entered some truly Barker-esque plains of imagery. Leonard has long been a favorite author of mine and now having finally went back and started at the beginning, it has absolutely elevated everything that I’ve read that followed this. I highly recommend this as a book to dive in and start seeing this amazing world that he’s brought forward and the truly grotesque creation that is the Scaeth.

Stunning work.


Book Review: The Camp Creeper and Other Stories by Dave Jeffery


Title: The Camp Creeper and Other Stories

Author: Dave Jeffery

Release date: October 31, 2019

Dave Jeffery has quickly turned into an author that I look forward to hearing a new book is coming out soon!

I’ve read a number of his works but I could’ve sworn I’d already read this release. Yesterday (December 28th, 2020) my dog had dental surgery. As night came around, he wasn’t doing so well coming out of anesthetic, so I wasn’t falling asleep. Looking through my Kindle, I came across this. A one sitting read that I could plow through and knew it’d be a great read.

I didn’t even know today, the 29th, was Dave’s birthday! What a double bonus.

What I liked: The Camper Creeper and Other Stories features three quick blasts of dark fiction, all featuring very different story ideas.

The first story is The Camp Creeper. We’re introduced to a summer camp that has a legend where something creeps each night. Of course we get a kid who won’t listen and has to just see what the truth is.

Jeffery had me guessing with this one until the very end. The story was quick but it felt like I knew the characters and it really made the tension ramp up.

The second story was a brutal tale of outback survival with Guess What We’re Having For Dinner. A group of hikers is lost when something in the dark starts hunting them. This was great. I loved the setting and how even in a short page count we see them start to come apart at the edges.

The last story was Cross Your Heart. This was a story revolving around the reality of a young child’s death and what happens on the first anniversary of the events. This was a really bleak story. I really liked the young kids and the way they each exhibited their own regrets from that day.

Jeffery is a master at short story fiction as well as novella and novel length works. This is a great grouping of three dark pieces.

What I didn’t like: I loved the first two stories but did find the ending of the third to read a bit jumbled. I had to reread it a few times to catch what I missed, but that truthfully could’ve been me getting more and more tired.

Why you should buy this: Jeffery is a fantastic author and this is another example of his ability to really craft great dark fiction. Demain’s Short! Sharp! Shocks! Series is full of fantastic collections and Dave’s is easily one of the best of the bunch.


Book Review: Fear by Ronald Kelly


Title: Fear

Author: Ronald Kelly

Release date: Originally published September 1, 1994, rereleased November 23, 2011

One thing I’ve come to realize when you take the time and energy to review books regularly, is that some books will come your way in the oddest of circumstances. Take ‘Fear’ from Ronald Kelly. This came onto my radar after a Twitter tither erupted when Mr. Kelly tweeted that from a veteran horror writer it appeared harder to find people to review their work. I personally didn’t understand what the issue was (and I’m not trying to rehash or reopen any arguments) but I took a look at Mr. Kelly’s Goodreads page and was immediately intrigued. I snagged 4 or 5 of his works almost immediately. But as my TBR always leans at angles beyond what even gravity says is possible (in actuality I read on a Kindle!) it took me a bit to get to ‘Fear.’

What I liked: I’d previously read some of Ronald’s short stories in anthologies and loved the way he wrote. His characters and settings live and breathe and bring the reader to that time and place. So, knowing that I was excited to dive into ‘Fear.’

While reading this, I thought of an essay Ronald had posted on Facebook. One of the things mentioned was that he found new books to often push past character development and plot setup in order to dive into the action and get right to the point. I can honestly say my own writing has done just that before, and he makes a valid point. It’s also one of the reasons we see older books typically 2-3x longer than new releases. I’m not going to consider novellas as part of this equation as the very nature of novellas is short and sweet.

Saying all of that was for a point. ‘Fear’ follows our young main character Jeb Sweeny, who lives in Mangum County. This is one county over from Fear County, where the laws of nature and man are different. Initially we get two plot points that start the story off. Jeb’s father Sam is slowwitted. He fought in WWII and suffered a brain injury which has resulted in a form of amnesia where he can’t remember anything. Jeb and Sam live with Jeb’s grandmother, a woman who is doing her best to care for her son and grandson, even as she is slowly felled by Cancer.

All of this comes to a head when a snake-like creature makes its way into the county and begins to slaughter animals and kidnap children.

From here, Kelly takes Jeb, Sam and an African American male named Roscoe into the heart of Fear County to try and fix the three issues in Jeb’s life.

While this book was released in 1994 originally, it is all too topical with the looks at race that are portrayed and Kelly has crafted some fantastic characters. As for the snake creature, these scenes themselves play out as some of the most frightening scenes I’ve ever read. It may be partly my life long obsession with snakes, but man did Kelly deliver when describing the events and the creature itself.

The foray into Fear County was fantastic and seeing the oddities that they encounter was fantastic and was a great look at the underbelly of the South. The language used is not PC in the least which elevated the tension and the truthness of the story. Without the specific uses of certain words, some of the scenes would’ve felt canned and flat.

One thing I will note – Kelly’s crafting of the characters and their back stories really made for some emotional kicks later on when bad things inevitably happened and there was a few times I felt myself getting close to tears.

What I didn’t like:  Two minor things. I was a bit annoyed at how long the trip into Fear County took in terms of book real estate. The entire time I was thinking ‘GET BACK FASTER!’ You knew things were happening and that the snake creature was on the prowl. Just get back! Haha! The second thing was the continual gullibility of Jeb. He frequently walked into back situations and while at first it was just a character thing where he’s a young trusting kid, but by the 2nd and 3rd times you really began to want to give him a smack!

Why you should buy this: This novel was pretty close to perfection. We get solid back story, story arcs for each of the three main characters and resolution for all three of the narratives that we get introduced too. Along the way, we meet some great secondary characters and the events that occur all worked to ramp up each and every part of the story.

Ronald Kelly is truly a master at the craft and shows why he’s been in the game for as long as he has. He seems to have found a new gear as of late with his output, which bodes well for long time fans as well as those like myself who’ve just finally made the plunge.


Book Review: Les Vacances by Phil Sloman

les vacances

Title: Les Vacances

Author: Phil Sloman

Release date: Originally released 2018, rereleased April 29, 2020

Yup, I know what you’re thinking. Posting a review on Christmas Day. Bit much, yeah?

The truth is, I was going to wait until tomorrow, but I got a block of free time right now and wanted to dive in and get this posted while I had it fresh in my mind. A bonus – a lot of folks get Amazon cards as gifts for Xmas, so I figured maybe my review can sway a few folks to snap a copy of this.

Truthfully, this book wasn’t on my radar until a few days ago. I’d not even heard of this release, as shameful as that sounds, but Dave Jeffery has been posting his Top Ten reads of the year list, one each day, and this one was featured the other day. If Dave loves it, I wanna dive in.

What I liked: ‘Les Vacances’ is a very fast story (I read it in about 45 minutes) about a married couple who, having gone to the vacation spot for a number of years, decide to mix things up. Where usually they’d head to the English countryside, Frank suggests that they stay at a small villa in France. Lizzy reluctantly agrees and off they go.

Sloman has a way with words. I believe it’s listed at 60 pages and not a single word or paragraph his wasted. We get whisked away to the French countryside and arrive at a small farm.

As you’d expect – this is horror after all – things go horrible wrong soon after. They discover some grave stones, Lizzie sees some things and before you know it you’ve finished reading this thing. And then all of the depravity sets in and you can’t fathom what’s just occurred. It truly is like a car crash. You see it happen, you can’t believe it and then a few hours later more insane details pop up.

I really enjoyed the setting here and while Sloman gives us a small peck on the cheek of  history, we can connect the dots as to how horrible this little village truly is.

What I didn’t like: God, I hope Duncan Ralston doesn’t read this. Because I HATED the character of Lizzie and he’s convinced I always hate one of the significant others in each book I read. NOT TRUE RALSTON. But, in this case, I did! I just didn’t enjoy how Lizzie immediately resorted to thinking Frank had the hots for the hostess and how irrational she acted from the second they arrived. The set up suggested she was excited to go, but then it came off as she never wanted to go and that Frank wasn’t the love of her life. Irksome but definitely needed to show how the area hooked its tentacles into the psyche.

Why you should buy this: As I said, this is a very fast, brutal read. If you enjoy my own works, you’ll dig this. But more than that, Sloman is a very talented writer and he’s crafted a story that could easily be taken as a relative of something Adam Nevill would create. The setting in here is divine and the way the finale rolls out was spot on. Sloman has really delivered the goods with this novella and you really should dive in and see just how creeped out this book will make you.


Book Review: The House That Jack Built by Dale Robertson


Title: The House that Jack Built

Author: Dale Robertson

Release date: June 6, 2018

I would wager that almost from day one on Twitter, when I started out promoting my own writing instead of my athletic pursuits, Dale connected and started supporting. I could’ve sworn I already had this book, it was listed on my TBR, but when I finally (and it took me a shamefully long time to get to it) arrived, I found it wasn’t on my Kindle. So, I snagged it and dove in.

This thing hums along. Robertson really crafted an engaging and exciting story here.

What I liked: ‘The House that Jack Built’ tells us the story of three pre-teens, Seb, Tommy and Regan, who want to make a name for themselves at school. The way to do that? Go to where the legend of Old Man Jack started and spend some time at night in his old house.

Robertson starts this off with a very familiar trope but manages to rework it enough for it to feel fresh and vibrant. I was drawn in immediately and the writing was fantastic.

Of course, things don’t go as they should. This is a horror book after all.

In order to conjure/call forth Jack, three scary stories must be told. So, each of the students tells a story, each one unique and enjoyable, and then they wait. Robertson did a great job of telling the three stories in different writer voices, which also allowed us to feel more connection with each of the kids.

As the story moves on, we get some incredibly creepy moments and Dale doesn’t let up until the ending arrives.

What I didn’t like: Truthfully, I didn’t like the character of Regan one bit. Some of it was purposeful on Dale’s part, some of it was my annoyance at the way the character interacted and some of their dialog, but in the end this made the finale of the story really grind my gears. Some of you will really dig it, but I felt it was a bit too straightforward and apparent.

Why you should buy this: This was a really fun time and a great take on a tried and true story plot. Robertson injected a lot of enjoyment in this, which kept me engaged and on board the entire time. I truly had a blast and I think this one should definitely be checked out.


Book Review: A Song for the End by Kit Power

a song

Title: A Song for the End

Author: Kit Power

Release date: October 30, 2020

Why did I not have this on my radar sooner?

I remember seeing this a bit when it was released, but for some reason I never took a closer look into what it was about. It maybe due to my recent misses when it comes to music/horror themed releases, but this sounded great.

I snagged a copy recently and threw it to the top of my TBR. If it wasn’t for a few other books I have on the go, I would’ve easily read this in one sitting. It was captivating and a refreshing take on apocalypse themed stories.

What I liked: The story is told in rapid fire fashion. We start off with a seemingly innocent band practice coming to a end. All of the members believe they’ve finally written a hit song, just none of them can really recall how it went or what the lyrics were. The song gets uploaded to the bands Youtube page and from there, things go full out.

Power delivers this story with delight. Once you listen to the song you have to tell the truth or your brain will explode. That’s right. You even so much as attempt a lie and hemorrhaging occurs. So, the majority of the story is a race to stop the song from spreading as the government tries to isolate what is causing this pandemic.

I really enjoyed all of the characters, except one, which I’ll mention in a bit. The rest were all spot on and I loved how as the reality of ‘telling the truth’ sets in, we see the ramifications become apparent to each and every individual.

This was a really great, fresh take on anything pandemic/apocalyptic related. We see the fall of civilization occur, in real time, as the spread of the song online takes hold.

Now, I do want to say – the word pandemic is one a lot of people want to avoid in literature right now. There really is no other way to describe what is occurring in the story. It isn’t a virus based story, but when the infection of the song takes hold and spreads, that meets that definition of pandemic and Power does a great job of keeping the action frantic.

What I didn’t like: I truthfully loved 99% of this book. The only thing I didn’t like was a single character. Our main characters significant other. When our main character, Bill, calls her back finally to tell her what is happening, that interaction annoyed the hell out of me. He tells her the song causes this to happen. He warns her. Yet we still read along as she turns on a computer and wants to hear it herself. AAHHHH!

Why you should buy this: Are you looking for a really quick, burst of fun with a unique and exciting premise? Here you go. This was such a blast and one that I’m glad I dove into. Power really engaged the reader throughout the entire page count. This was one that I was hoping I’d dig going in but found I loved it once finished, and that’s always a massive bonus.

Definitely worth checking out and sits nicely alongside Scott Coles ‘Crazytimes’ and Carl John Lee’s ‘The Blood Beast Mutations’ for best, unexpected fun novellas this year!


Book Review: Sabbath of the Fox-Devils by Sam Richard


Title: Sabbath of the Fox-Devils

Author: Sam Richard

Release date: May 15, 2020

The third and final book sent to me to check out from Weirdpunk Books is ‘Sabbath of the Fox-Devils’ by Sam Richard. Look at that cover! I mentioned previously in my review for ‘Seventeen Names for Skin’ the first of the three Weirdpunk releases I reviewed that I simply read that one first as it showed on my Kindle screen first. After reading all three, any one could’ve easily read the three in a random order and had a blast with each release. Three very different releases but three absolutely stellar releases.

I’ve previously read Sam’s haunting collection ‘To Wallow in Ash and Other Sorrows,’ so going in I wasn’t too sure if this would be another grief based read or if the cover was hinting at some fun to come.

What I liked: ‘Sabbath of the Fox-Devils’ is a bonkers coming-of-age horror novella. Our young main character lives in a house ruled by his parents and their crushing religious beliefs. We find out that Joe is struggling with his older brother leaving and having no contact with him. A cartoon seems to connect some dots and from there Joe is able to unravel his brothers abrupt departure and just what secrets the priest is hiding.

This book is full on fun. We get emotional depth as Joe struggles with dealing with his brother leaving as well as trying to unravel the depths the lies go in the town.

Richard’s does a fantastic job of bouncing between religious “insight” and moving the story along. The bridges, which is the most accurate term I can think of for the religious side bits, really deepen the fervor which the priest has cast over the congregation. As well, the arrival of the Fox-Devils plot point was fantastic and the folklore bent that Sam delivers was really well done.

What I didn’t like: It’s a minor thing, but at the start I felt like Joe was a younger character than he appears in the second half. Maybe it was the length of the novella that made it feel rushed, but it seemed as though Joe aged and matured rapidly in a short amount of time. Didn’t affect the story at all, but it was something I noticed.

Why you should buy this: A) Weirdpunk Books is putting out stunning releases. This is the fourth book from them I’ve read and all have been top notch and very different from each other, which is an achievement all on its own. B) Richard can really capture a lot of different feelings and emotions with his writing. This goes from sorrow to horror to grief to ballistic missile over and over and it truly was a work of art watching him control these characters. C) If that cover and that synopsis intrigues you – what the book delivers is 10x better than you’ll ever expect going in.

This was another great book from a publisher I’m so happy to have discovered this year.


You can buy this book direct from Weirdpunk Books here;

Or from Amazon here;

Book Review: Prairie Gothic: An Anthology edited by Stacey Kondla

prairie gothic

Title: Prairie Gothic

Release date: November 20, 2020

Growing up in a very, very small town in the middle of nowhere in BC created one of the weirdest small townism that has stayed with me until this very day.

When I was young, we had three TV channels: CBC, BCTV and The Knowledge Network. One of my favorite shows was a CBC show called ‘On the Road Again,’ which was hosted by Wayne Rostad. It ran for 20 years, from 1987 until 2007 and was an early inspiration for The Mercer Report with Rick Mercer. Wayne would travel to the smallest towns and meet the people and participate in whatever it was that the town did for fun. During one such episode, Wayne travelled to New Denver. HOLY HELL! New Denver, I thought. Why that’s thirty minutes from Nakusp. And Nakusp is only thirty minutes from Burton and that means Wayne Rostad is only an HOUR from me! To this day, any mention of those small towns brings that same sense of wonderment. That shared moment of ‘you’ve been to the middle of nowhere to!’

So it was, that recently I became Facebook friend with Craid DiLouie. I’d recently read ‘The Children of Red Peak’ from Mr. DiLouie and was stunned that he was living in Calgary. We chatted a bit on messenger and then I saw him share the release details for ‘Prairie Gothic: An Anthology.’ Featuring stories centered around Alberta, I knew I needed to read this and if anything, discover new authors with Alberta links. I’ve become friends with Mike Thorn, so I was excited to see his name on the list, especially being a fan of his work.

I grabbed a Kindle copy and this group of stories was so well done, I ended up reading it in one sitting.

What I liked: Well, after such a long-winded intro, I better do this book justice! The book opens with a fantastic poem/lyrics by Jim Jackson and an introduction by Stacey Kondla. This did a great job of setting the tone for what was to follow. Within the mix of stories, the authors really highlighted various dark fiction plots/tropes and not a single story was a miss for me. I need to highlight that again. Typically in a collection from a single author or an anthology such as this, there will inevitably be one or two where you read it and go ‘yeah, that was alright but not for me.’ Not with this one.

Saying that, I do want to highlight the stories that really stuck out for me, starting with story number one. ‘Darling House’ by PJ Vernon was a truly phenomenal opener. This story was simple in delivery but wow did it pack a punch. Staying spoiler free – I just want to say, you’ll never look at candles the same way ever again.

‘Mini McDonagh Manor’ by Mike Thorn was pristine and showed why I love Mike’s writing so much. Following a woman who needs to confront things from the past, Mike does a really great job of encasing an entire ‘haunted house’ book in a dozen or so pages. Well done.

‘The Frostlings’ by Chris Marrs was truly creepy. This one was tough to peg down with the emotional response it gave me, but I think the word that keeps coming to the front of my mind is chaotic and claustrophobic. Loved it.

For me though, the one that I truly loved the most was from Stacey Kondla herself. ‘Don’t Count Your Chickens’ might have been the shortest story in the anthology, but for me it packed the biggest punches, both for unnerving energy and creep factor. The story, and I need to keep this brief to make sure I don’t ruin it for you, is about something outside, something in the night. God, that’s all I can share! I wish I could say more, but this story was A+ infinity. Stunning stuff!

What I didn’t like: As I said earlier, every story worked for me here, so I’m going to go in a different direction here. What I don’t like about this anthology is that I’M NOT SEEING IT MORE OFTEN! This thing is amazing and truly deserving of being showcased wide and far. I’m a bit annoyed myself that I already posted my top ten anthology/collection list, because truthfully this would easily be featured on there.

Why you should buy this: I just want to thank Craig for bringing this anthology to my attention. That’s all it can take to make a sale, sharing a book on a social media platform, so I’m grateful to him for that post. I don’t think this will appeal to only ‘Albertans’ or ‘Small Town Canadians.’ The fact is, every town is haunted, every place has a house you avoid, a street you don’t walk on after dark. I grew up in a town of less than 100 people and we had both. This will speak to every reader who loves dark fiction, but for those of us who’ve been to many of these locations, it may just amplify the creeps a tiny bit more.

This brought a number of new-to-me authors to my attention and in 2021 I’ll be looking to read more of their work, but for now, I have to say – this is one of the best anthologies I’ve ever read. And I’d really love it if you would read it as well.


Top Ten Collections/Anthologies of 2020!

Alright, so last week I shared my list of top ten books I read in 2020 that weren’t released in 2020. Soon, you’ll find my list of my top 10 books of 2020 from 2020 over on Kendall Reviews.

But, I also wanted to feature some truly amazing Collections/Anthologies that I read this year. This list is purely based on reading in 2020 and not publication date. I read A LOT of collections this year and A LOT of anthologies, which made it very difficult to whittle it down to a top ten. I did cheat though, in that I doubled two of them up, but you’ll see why and because this is my site, I’ll damn well bend the rules if I want! HA!

For this list, the order is based on when I read them during the year starting with earliest to most recent.

1. To Wallow In Ash & Other Sorrows by Sam Richard


An grief filled batch of stories, Sam opens this up with a foreword sharing that after his wife passed away, the only two things that kept him alive was his pup and writing this collection. Be warned – this group of stories will absolutely wreck you.

You can buy this from Weirdpunk Books here;

Or Amazon;

2. Dark Celebrations by Calvin Demmer


Demmer returns with another fantastic group of stories. I loved that we start off strong and each story grew and grew until the final few were excellent. Demmer is one of my favorite authors and I get excited for each and every one of his releases.

3. Grotesque Monster Stories by Lee Murray


Lee Murray is not only one of the most encouraging authors out there, she’s also one of the nicest. Don’t let that fool you though. The brutality and darkness she delivers in this stunning collection will make even the hardest reader squirm. 

4. North American Lake Monsters & Wounds: Six Stories From the Border of Hell by Nathan Ballingrud

I couldn’t just choose one of the two collections I read from Mr. Ballingrud this year as both were superb. Covering a variety of story lines, each and every one eats into your brain. I loved these two.

5. Murder Ballads and Other Horrific Tales by John Horner Jacobs


After I was shockingly approved for a digital ARC for this (blew me away!) I dove into this collection and saw why so many people have recommended I read John Horner Jacobs. Featuring some truly stunning stories, this really was outstanding.

6. Every House is Haunted by Ian Rogers 

every house

Ian Rogers collection was a spellbinding experience and one that made me a bit ashamed that it took me so long to dive into. Pair this with his Tor release ‘Go Fish’ and you get a really great world that I hope to visit more of. FYI – the ebook is currently unavailable but will hopefully be returning to the world soon. Used/secondary paperbacks are able to be found, or once again, you could wait until a re-release!

7. Under Her Black Wings and Graveyard Smash by Kandisha Press

The first two anthologies from Kandisha Press feature a stunning TOC of some of the best writers out there. These are must read for fans of dark fiction and I wouldn’t be surprised if we see a Stoker be awarded for short fiction from Volume 2.

8. Cradleland of Parasites by Sara Tantlinger


A poetry collection centered around The Black Plague, Tantlinger absolutely eviscerates the reader with each additional poem in this collection. Stunning work from an absolute beast of a writer.

9. Different Beasts by J.R. McConvey


McConvey’s collection was a joy to find. I wasn’t sure what to expect but his storytelling and prose mastery was fantastic. Featuring some great dark fiction, I loved this batch of stories and look forward to reading more of his work.

10. Wyrd and Other Derelictions by Adam Nevill.


Adam Nevill has been a revelation for me this year, having read a number of his releases. With ‘Wyrd and Other Derelictions’ he took a bold leap and completely delivered. This book is one of the most unsettling things you’ll ever read. 

You can purchase the book directly from Nevill here;

Ritual Limited Shop

Or from Amazon here;

There we go. Done and dusted. Now keep your eyes open for my Top Ten of 2020 list coming soon to Kendall Reviews!


Book Review: The Best of Indie Horror Presented by Kevin J Kennedy

best of indie

Title: The Best of Indie Horror Presented by Kevin J. Kennedy

Release date: November 26, 2020

For the sake of complete transparency, I’ll start off by saying, Kevin J. Kennedy has been very kind to me in my short writing career. Not only did Kevin send me my first acceptance, I’ve been fortunate enough to appear in four different releases through Kevin J. Kennedy Publishing, including two of his Horror Anthologies.

I’ve always loved Kevin’s packaging both visually but artistically. He has his finger on the pulse of who delivers great stories and so, when he announced the next anthology would be titled ‘The Best of Indie Horror,’ I knew we’d be getting some fantastic short fiction.

Before I dive into my normal format, I do want to say – if you’ve not read any of the previous Kevin J. Kennedy Publishing Anthologies, I highly recommend you do. You’re guaranteed to discover new to you authors who have amazing back catalogs, but also some very familiar names that you’ve already grown to love.

What I liked: ‘The Best of Indie Horror’ features some of the best names out there right now and the highlight here is that every single reader will discover a story inside that will be their personal favorite. I found the quality of stories here outstanding and it shows that Kevin really devotes time and love into these releases. His investment in the quality allows the readers to benefit ten-fold.

For me, the stories from Christina Bergling, Lee Murray and Nicola Lombardi, Mark Cassell, Andrew Lennon and Mark Lukens were superb. Each one crackled and the energy was fantastic. Saying that, there were a few stories that I found to be my personal favorites.

The anthology opens with a really great story from Calvin Demmer. Following a warrior attempting to find paradise, he must complete three tasks to arrive at the desired destination. Each task was written so well that it was a classic Demmer offering: 300 pages of story in only a dozen or so pages. The ending was superb.

Tim Curran’s offering roughly 30% in was another amazing story for me. I wish I could find more stories centered around Urban Exploring as it greatly intrigues me. We get to see a group of UrbEx people head into a place that not many have explored. When they arrive, things go sideways and Curran decides to ramp up the HOLY-HELL horror and we get some stunningly brutal scenes. Well done.

Showing just how solid this anthology is, the final story from Lex H Jones was also one of the best. Featuring a narrative that felt influenced by King’s ‘The Mist,’ we follow a father and daughter trying to survive after sinkholes open and things crawl out. A short story that packed a wallop of action and emotion, I was captivated from start to finish. Jones is such an amazing author and I’ve loved everything I’ve read of his. This one was perfect.

What I didn’t like: As with any anthology, some of the stories won’t resonate with each reader. In this case every story here was a good time, but mileage will vary from reader to reader. My fav may be your least.

Why you should buy this: As I mentioned in the intro, Kevin J. Kennedy keeps churning out great anthologies and this one is no exception. It would be a great place for any reader to dive in and discover new talent, or simply a place to read stories from authors they already enjoy. I loved the mix of plots and tropes and there really wasn’t a let down between one to the next.

Great stuff from a great group of authors and an anthology that I highly recommend!