A short story anthology is a remarkable thing. The creators come together to offer their variation on a group theme. Each is telling a different story, with a different voice. And yet they all have to come coherently together.

If that is the expectation one has for an anthology, Tainted Love delivered. And just in time for Valentine’s Day, a holiday that could use a little more blood.

The stories are all about love going wrong. All sorts of love. Because, let’s be fair, every sort of love can get twisted. 

I can’t say there are more than one or two bad stories in the collection. Some are better than others, of course. My personal favorite is the second one, Vanitas by Azzurra Nox and Erica Ruhe. This story took so many twists and turns, tossing up so many misdirections that I didn’t see the ending coming at all.

Many of the stories are short, even for short stories. This, I think, is a plus. A short story can be absorbed on a bus ride or lunch break. A good short story makes breaking your soul into pieces an easy thing to fit into your day. There isn’t one that felt like I was sloughing through it. 

At the end of the stories, there are interviews with the authors. This was a fun surprise. It’s always fascinating to hear from authors about their writing methods and thoughts on the story. Maybe it’s just me, but I love nothing more than when people discuss what they’re passionate about. There was plenty of passion in the stories themselves, of course. But there was passion of a different sort in the interviews.

One thing I must warn you about. These stories don’t pull punches. Dark situations are discussed. Stories about stillbirths, rape, abuse and torture. Of course, that should be obvious. We are talking about stories of tainted love, after all. While many of them involve ghosts and vampires, some are about far more realistic monsters. Those are, of course, the most horrifying. 

If you haven’t read Tainted Love, it’s worth the read. It’s fun, emotionally damaging, exciting, and a little sexy. Just like any good love story.