In my opinion, this anthology is the best one that MDP has put forth so far. If they continue to increase the quality of their story collections in this manner, I think they will lead the market in horror anthologies, the way Permuted Press leads the pack in zombie novels. Even the introduction by TW Brown was much better than previous intros in other MDP anthologies. Other than the distracting little icons throughout the book, I was really pleased overall with the editing job this time around.
I have no idea how MDP selects the authors, but this was a stellar cross-section of horror writers. There were a couple of stories I would have replaced with something by established MDP authors like Michael Evans or DA Chaney, but maybe the ones that didn't appeal to me will appeal to others nonetheless. When I read such incredible original stories like these, I wonder why more people don't give the horror genre more credit for its literary accomplishments.
A Golem In Ozone Park by Jim Sylvestry was based in serious Jewish mythology and mysticism, and that really appealed to me on a personal level. Unfortunately, I felt like the author was stressing the Jewish-ness of the story more than the actual horror. I didn't think this made a very good lead-in for the anthology, but at least it was entertaining.
The Lure by Chantal Boudreau was a perfect example of what a short story should be: went straight to the terror, like a double-tap with a pen instead of a gun. If you happen to be a fan of the show [[ASIN:B002LW9IMG River Monsters]], you will LOVE this story. It will scare you senseless with the imagery.
A Zinger Must Die by David Perlmutter is a mix of sci-fi and horror with some campiness for flavor...a "cartoon race" of beings really made this story stand out from the rest with a brilliant mix of comedy and tragedy.
The Pit by Terry Alexander kind of looked like a rough draft version of a werewolf tale. The plot was pretty decent with a man trying to get his daughter back from the pack leader.
The Spine-Tingling Tale of the Crystal Golem by Tom Ribas symbolized the true spirit of the anthology, complete with the cheesiness of weekly horror movie cinema series (think black & white movies). The beginning was a great hook, but I didn't find anything really frightening in this story. The ending was actually charming.
Just The Two of Us by Anthony Bell was one of my favorites in this collection, about a boy, a bully and a monster. Kids should have to read this; pretty sure this would end school-bullying and then some...then again, kids would probably need therapy if they read this.
The Fish Boy by Eric Dumbleby was another favorite: completely disturbing and gruesome tale about why you shouldn't get drunk when you're camping by the river with your kids.
And The Dark Growls Back by Aaron Dries is a great example of a horrifying story without a fictional monster...sometimes real life is bad enough.
The Visitor by Kelley Kombrick is kind of like a Bigfoot story, but with a slow set-up, and more description than action. Nice use of suspense though.
Frightening Clichés by Bennie Newsome was an AWESOME story about swamp monsters...one of the best in the anthology!! MDP should seriously consider releasing this as an independent e-story *hint, hint* The ending was superb! I want to use lots of caps and exclamation points to tell you how much I LOVED THIS STORY!!! I would really enjoy reading a full-length novel based on the main character.
Dead Planet by Ryan Hills was a space zombie story -- a theme I've seen before... this story simply wasn't as original or fear-provoking as the anthology stories...but nice to see zombies somewhere other than Texas for a change.
Hayride by Joseph A Polega is a story that reminded me of the good ol' days when Stephen King used to write about scary stuff...LOVE THIS STORY! I thought the Mom did a great job of consoling her young son on a hayride with a brutal ending.
Fish Out of Water by Carl Barker was kind of like Jules Verne on crystal meth...incredibly intense and severely alarming.
From Rebirth to Reburial by MW Williamson was demonic adventure in horror that is a must-read in the anthology.
North by MJ Wesolowski had a great story concept that, thankfully, did not include the typical snow monsters (definitely NOT Yetis)...heavy on the descriptions, but necessary to prepare the reader for the stunning finale. I LOVED the manipulation of the timeline. The writing style worked very well for this chilling tale.
Revenge of the Zombie [...] Eaters by Craig Wallwork has a censored title, so I could post this review intact. The author wastes no time with a set-up, and jumps directly into the gore (nice touch with the tampon detail...eeewwww). BEST. ZOMBIE. TWIST. EVER...title is not an attempt to be shocking, but rather quite literal. Also qualifies as WEIRDEST. STORY. EVER. I will never think of genitals the same way again. This story needs its own genre...for now, I would place it somewhere near bizarro.
Keeping It Together by DK Mok was mesmerizing: a mix of undead...zombie vs. vampire, with lots of other supernatural stuff tossed in, but nothing traditional or glittering about this story. I enjoyed the intimacy of the POV as well. Not sure if I will ever order pizza again though...nice ending to the anthology.
If I could, I would give this 4.5 stars, but there are plenty of fabulous 5-star stories in this anthology that deserve the attention, so I'm giving this anthology 5-stars. I hope MDP sticks to this formula for future anthologies. I would enjoy a Volume Two of this particular theme. *hint, hint*
(reviewed 22 days after purchase)