Bloody Good Horror is a horror anthology from HellBound Books containing 35 short stories with no set theme. The people at HellBound Books were kind enough to send me a free copy for review.
I think the anthology is front-loaded with stories that are slightly too similar in theme. A big theme in a lot of the earlier stories is characters who are literally or metaphorically haunted by something. I feel like the problem is not so much that the stories are similar on a very surface level, but more that I was able to notice a recurring pattern. Changing the order of the stories would have probably helped out with that and made the “no theme, no limits” aspect of the anthology much stronger.
There are many stories here with bad dialogue, punctuation mistakes, and rough writing in general. Even some of the stories I ultimately enjoyed have this issue. I think this book really needed an extra editing pass to catch these various issues to make the writers’ work shine; I would have absolutely given this book a higher rating if it was a bit more polished.
I still found a good amount of the stories to be enjoyable, and I found some authors I want to keep an eye on and see more work from. I want to spotlight a couple of the stories I particularly liked.
“Stepmothers” is a story with a seemingly cliché premise that I was expecting to dislike, but the twist was pretty cool. It recontextualized the story in a way I found really effective. In “Treehouse,” a criminal on the run decides to hide in a haunted treehouse. It’s a fairly solid ghost story that was pretty engaging.
“Remnants of Worship” is about a washed-up film critic and his search for a scary film that may not exist. I tend to be a big fan of mysteries, so I enjoyed the lead up where we’re following the breadcrumbs. The ending fell flat, but I liked the journey.
“To My Beloved Cynthia, from Tanya” is a letter from a woman to her former lover. I wasn’t feeling the epistolary style at first, but it grew on me. I really liked the various twists and turns it took. Also I just really like [subject matter I will not reveal because spoilers]. “Grandma” is about two homeless men who take shelter from a storm with a strange old woman who mistakes them for her grandsons. This story is just so silly. The bit with the gun is particularly ridiculous. It’s also a story featuring [subject matter I will not reveal because spoilers].
In “Public Displays of Affliction,” a man normally sees people as horribly wounded, but sometimes encounters people who look strangely healthy. It’s a neat concept and I really like the execution. The story feels refreshingly tight and the cliffhanger ending was good.
I give this book 3 out of 5 cthulhus. There are some enjoyable stories in Bloody Good Horror, but there’s a fair bit of rough writing that could have used some extra polish. You can check it out on Amazon at the link below. Remember that we are an Amazon affiliate and if you buy anything from the links provided we will get some $ back.(3 / 5)