This is free. Go get yourself a copy! Link here
If these stories are any indication of what we can expect from Tor’s new horror line NightFire, we have some excellent horror fiction to look forward to in the brand new year! The production and narration is excellent and the writing is strong and polished. You might want to grab yourself a copy while it is still free. I’m betting you’ll find something here you will love.
As with all collections of this type, some stories will work better than others because we can’t love them all but there are NONE that are badly written. Not a one. So what it comes down to is personal taste so here are my thoughts.
NO MATTER WHICH WAY WE TURNED by Brian Evenson starts things off with a creepy-weird little short perfect for a collection called "Come Join Us by the Fire". It reads more like a poem but it sets a mood of unease right off the bat.
DADDY by Victor Lavalle spins a tale about a new father facing new father fears that are ratcheted up a thousand notches when his son tells him about the man speaking to him at night. This is chilling on a deep level . . .
THIS GUY by Chuck Wendig is a quickie that is violent and over in a blink.
FLAYED ED by Richard Kadrey puts a spin on horrorshow Ed Gein. One that will thrill and disturb any horror fan! I think it’s a must listen, for sure.
THE POND by Paul Tremblay tells a tale about how ghosts are made. It’s dark, it’s haunting, and it is very good stuff.
HER BODY, HERSELF by Carmen Maria Machado is a story about the kind of fear that most women will feel deep in their bones. I wish it were longer and hope to read more by this author soon.
THE GIRLS FROM THE HORROR MOVIE by Gwendolyne Kiste is about a former scream queen and the movie that just doesn’t want to let go of her and her twin sister. This is creepy done amazingly well and Kiste is an excellent writer. Also while I’m here, go read THE RUST MAIDENS, if you haven’t already. You won’t be sorry.
THESE DEATHLESS BONES by Cassandra Khaw – Ahhh, words aren’t adequate to describe how perfectly horrific I found this little story. Anyone who loves dark fairytales needs to drop everything and read it right now. It is everything I wish for in a short horror tale. Beautifully written, dark perfection.
IT WASHED UP by Joe R. Lansdale – The polluted sea coughs up a monster! This was a dark but light-heartedly bleak interlude. I know that makes no sense but if you’ve read Lansdale you will know what I mean.
STEMMING THE TIDE by Simon Strantzas wasn’t a favorite because the lead protagonist annoyed me with his ugly, judgy thoughts. I was also left with some big questions when it ended.
MIDNIGHT CALLER by Stephen Graham Jones features a final girl facing her worst nightmare! This story was so clever. I loved everything about it.
BLACK BARK by Brian Evenson was a weird tale about a strange piece of bark and two unfortunate men. This is SUCH a weird one! I’m not quite sure what I read here but I can tell you that I’m not sorry I read it.
THE ANATOMIST’S MNEMONIC by Priya Sharma features a man looking for love but he has very strict requirements so he’s having a tough time and has to take matter into his own hands. It gets a little grisly at the end which is always a bonus in my book. That’s why we’re all here, right?!
RABBIT HEART by Alyssa Wong – This is my kind of bizarre story. If you’ve read and loved Bunny by Mona Awad you should read this story. You NEED to read this story because I think you will love it. It reads almost like a companion piece to Bunny. And if you haven’t read Bunny yet, you should go do so if you like weirdness!
THE BEASTS OF THE EARTH, THE MADNESS OF MEN by Brooke Bolander is about a woman’s search for an unholy whale. It’s all about action and adventure on the high seas and it wasn’t my favorite because I’m not a huge fan of action or adventure but it is well written.
COLD, SILENT, AND DARK by Kary English is dark and lovely and ended just perfectly.
WHEN THE ZOMBIES WIN by Karina Sumner-Smith is a depiction of what happens when the world is over run by zombies. Yep, it is just as bleak as one would expect.
HAROLD THE SPIDER MAN by Paul Tremblay is going to make your skin crawl. Harold is a little weird but he is kind to spiders. Perhaps a little too kind. This story was a lot of fun to read. It’s darkly comical and also darkly disturbing!
PONIES by Kij Johnson is a cotton candy coated nightmare of a story about fitting in. This one will haunt me until the day I die. I swear it.
BLACK NEUROLOGY by Richard Kadrey is a gruesome love story filled with ick, ick and more ick!
BEWARE OF OWNER by Chuck Wendig - Be warned, herein lies kitty violence and this is just the tip of the horror in this house of yikes and hell nooooo’s! This is a nasty little piece of work that I could barely finish because of the dastardly kitty violence. Sorry, this is how I am. I don’t like reading that stuff but maybe you do? Read what you want. I won’t judge.
THE VAULT OF THE SKY, THE FACE OF THE DEEP by Robert Levy – An old woman recounts a harrowing tale of human atrocity.
DON’T TURN ON THE LIGHTS by Cassandra Khaw is a tale of changing stories. I love the way this author writes, immediately immersing you in her unsettling world.
WASP & SNAKE by Livia Llewellyn is the chilling tale of an assassin who gets some frightening body modifications in order to become more efficient at her job. This story gave me early Barker vibes and is incredibly disturbing. It is a must-read if you are a body horror fan.
GREENER PASTURES by Michael Wehunt - A long haul trucker meets a man who may be haunted, or may be off his rocker but he listens anyway and that’s a huge mistake. This was a creepfest and made my little arm hairs stand on end.
AND WHEN SHE WAS BAD by Nadia Bulkin is a story about a monster and the final girl AFTER the carnage has happened. This is an amazing story of strength and anger and transformation from the point of view of a woman who has had ENOUGH! I wouldn’t change a single word and loved everything about it.
EL CHARRO by John Langan – Imagine this, if you will. One moment you’re chatting with friends about a book and the next you’re a prisoner of a monster, ahhh! This one didn’t make a huge impact on me but I didn’t hate it.
DREAM HOUSE by Kat Howard - Cara buys her dream house. An old mansion filled with dark corners and it immediately feels like home. Eventually she finds out why. This is a feel good creepfest. Is that a thing? If not, it should be and it is now.
SPAWNING SEASON by Nicholas Kaufmann- This is a dark fairy tale about a town beholden to the sea. It is super imaginative and so very good.
IN SHEEP’S CLOTHING by Molly Tanzer – An apocalypse happens. The beginning tells you how it ends but it’s the getting there that is all the horrific fun. So weird, so gruesome, so freaking bizarre!
57 REASONS FOR THE SLATE QUARRY SUICIDES by Sam J.Miller – A bullied teen with a unique gift reflects on the cost of his revenge. I didn’t like this story at first because I’m not fond of lists as a form of storytelling but it grew on me so stick with it if you’re anything like me.
WAS SHE WICKED, WAS SHE GOOD? by M. Rickert - A pretty little cherub performs atrocities that her ineffective parents are left to clean up. Nothing really is what it seems and this story will chill you to the bone if kids are what scare you the most!
A LIFE THAT IS NOT MINE by Kristi DeMeester – A worn out exhausted teacher tells the tale as her life is slowly consumed by darkness. This one will resonate deeply with anyone who feels stuck in a soul sucking job or in a life that they’d never wish upon themselves.
THAT WHICH DOES NOT KILL YOU by Lucy A. Snyder is a gory little tale of a heart-wrenching break-up. It is a tale as old as time but with a killer twist.
THE DESIGN by China Miéville, I believe, is the longest piece here. It is about a medical student who discovers bones etched with designs. The need to find out more and decipher their meanings consumes him. This one didn’t grab me. Maybe I was too exhausted when listening? Maybe it was the narration that didn’t mesh with my sleepy head? Or maybe it just didn’t grab me? Anyhow, I may revisit it and report back but I might not.
As I said way up there, it’s FREE (at this moment) so there’s no reason you shouldn’t nab a copy and settle in for some unsettling stories!