When I heard that HellBound Books were publishing a ghost anthology by The Horror Zine, I had high hopes – and I wasn’t disappointed. The Horror Zine is a true gem of the internet, whilst HellBound consistently produce some of the highest quality anthologies out there.
It’s no exaggeration to say the Horror Zine Book of Ghosts is an outstanding modern ghost anthology – I don’t believe there is a weak link in there and some of the stories gave me a proper chill.
The Book of Ghost Stories is, unsurprisingly, full of ghosts; malevolent ghosts, playful ghosts, vengeful and even ravenously hungry ghosts. There are haunted houses, haunted people and haunted dreams. It lurches from the creepy to the macabre to the downright terrifying, which is exactly what it aims to do.
The writing is consistently high quality, the concepts are clever and the protagonists are largely those that you find yourself caring about, even if you wish them ill. I could find something good to say about every story, but these were my highlights –
The very first paragraph of ‘Vacuum’ by MN Nichols offers a great introduction to the anthology. The story whirls the reader into a sad and desperate world, one that is breaking apart even as we read. It’s all the more painful for being seen through the eyes of a child
There were many scary stories in here, but the one that gave me a proper old fashioned scare was ‘Proof of Afterlife’, by Derek Austin Johnson. The hair on my arms raised as I was reading, and I don’t frighten easily!
‘Cutting the Mustard’ by Graham Masterton and Dawn G Harris was an intentionally tough read. It builds and builds to a truly horrific climax, offering, for my money, the most disturbing scene in the anthology
I could see what was happening fairly early on in Christian A Larsen’s ‘Something to Nibble On’, but I guess I was meant to, and anyway it didn’t help one bit. It was still seriously macabre and provoked more than one wince.
‘All That She Leaves Behind’ by S.J. Budd is quite simply beautifully written and offers a welcome change of pace and mood. It’s a soulful and introspective journey through grief that seems to be heading towards a strange reconciliation, till Budd steers it into something quite different.
Tim Waggoner’s ‘The White Road’ is a ghost chase with a fantastically imagined monster. It jumps, skips and loops unexpectedly back upon itself, leaving you breathless.
Jeani Rector’s chilling haunted house mystery ‘The House on Henley Way’ rounds the anthology off in a most satisfying way.
If you’re looking for a book of ghost stories set in the modern day, I can’t recommend this one highly enough. Twenty-six imaginative and original tales, well told. You can’t say fairer than that.