Another AMAZING anthology! a real varied mix of authors.
Pulse by Mark Tufo:
Sam has invented a bug zapper with a difference. Julie, his wife and Arni the lawyer are seeing dollar signs, large ones, little ones and portable ones.
However, the Gov’ is never far behind once you apply for a patent, neither is a certain Hit Man; Emery. However, unlike Monty Python's Spanish Inquisition, I have learnt with this author to always expect the unexpected and Julie is my hero.
The humour in the story made it a brilliant read and what a fantastic start to this anthology, which has a reputation to upkeep after book 1.
Cookies for the Gentleman by C.T. Phipps:
The narrator describes the worst monster which has followed him through life with various unspeakable torments.
He is placated finally by, of all things, the perfect cookie. However, the author manages to make cookie baking a terror all its own.
Short and sharp, I loved how this progressed, the writing style was easy even if the subject matter was not.
By Any Means Necessary by Evin Ager:
Sargent Jason Burrows is on guard duty and he hates it. On some god forsaken island in the middle of nowhere he sees this as a total kick in the teeth from the Army.
Then the dreams start, then the goo, the disappearances and finally a climatic end that had me both riveted and disgusted; fantastic.
An author for me to put on my TBR list – these anthologies must have it up to a mile long by now.
History’s End by Frank Tayall:
Dr Marcus Holloway made a video, he also made a virus.
Following a series of breath holding moments, some clever skulduggery and the odd bit of espionage the world ends, but of course!
Would love to have read more, had the story extended into a novella etc. another TBR author, see what I mean!
A Mother’s Nightmare by J. Rudolph
A woman finds a suicide note whilst scavenging post apocalypse.
It is a sad story and I was getting upset myself until the dogs, then I couldn’t have cared less about this loving pre apocalyptic family, but that’s me, animals will always be equal in my eyes.
I liked the overall idea and the plotline was a good one, the characters and emotion they evoked was very real.
Patient 63 by Stevie Jonas:
Fabulous story of an infected who falls in love, yup you read that right! Not all goes well of course but the love story was great, the outline and surrounding characters were well thought and fleshed out.
Tyrannical Ascension by Shana Festa:
Always and easy and fascinating read from SF, trouble is I always want a bit more.
Basically a tale of how sneaky, nasty and calculating humans can be, this just happens to be post-apocalyptic. Not forgetting the twits that follow them.
Ink by James Crawford:
A fast paced descriptive read. A much sort after and solitary tattooist is sort out by a client who is unsure what he is searching for. However, the tattooist muse is all too aware.
The drawn out fight and torment scenes are yucky but weirdly intoxicating. I liked the fullness of the story and how well it was structured.
The Man with Four Scars by Stephen Koziekski:
I found lots of contradictions in this story eg. Not able to name items as language skills so primitive but able to tell night time, fireside stories?
At first it distracted me but I was soon enveloped in the story of this self-made town hero falling a fallen star and the strange green goop it emits; green goop is never a good thing!
Whilst I enjoyed the overall story and its unique take and twist on an often tired zombie genre I was annoyed at the author for keep changing the parameters of his characters.
Daddy’s Girl by Ian Mclellan:
What are the worst things you can do? Kill? Maim? Torture? Ignore?
Loved the lure in, the character fill out and then the thrusting twist in the tale. A well written story and a funny bio of the author.
Operation Devil Walk by David Mikolas:
Set in WW2 with the Nazi occult obsession as it main force a group of academics, drafted by the military is set to infiltrate a far flung island to find proof of strange goings on.
The ensuing story is both sad, horrifying and totally captivating.
The Infected by S.G. Lee:
Too many names to keep track of at first but then the little feuds amongst the Medics fighting for a faculty position start to focus their individuality.
A task is set to weed out the weak applicants and of course, this is the perfect back drop for a spot of wild research.
I liked the way the story was told in dialogue as it gave a great emotional feel to the story.
Forget Me Never by Sharon Stevenson:
Just what is the true price for fame? What lengths will people go to too get it? A fabulous narrated story of murder, decay and fame.
Mileage by Sean T. Smith:
A surrealist tale of humanity trying to survive and a dying man’s hallucinogenic dreams. A bit too weird for my liking but then that’s why I love anthologies so much, I’m sure some people will adore this story.
The Milestone by Lesa Kinney Anders:
Such a sad and chilling story. I’m not sure what was more horrifying the monster or the disease. I really liked the slow unfold of characters and plot line.
Genesis by Kit Power:
A son chases after kidnapped, crook father. The suggestions of torture via dialogue were very clever and made the reveal even more sticky.
This serves as a prequel to the author's new novel God Bomb! which I have recently enjoyed. Overall I felt this was a little wordy compared to his novel, but it’s a good flavour of his writing style.
Lock Down by T.M. Caldwell:
Apparently this is the author's first published short, she is working on a fantasy novel; judged on this, I can’t wait for that!
I loved her open and caring writing style, I really felt for her characters and squirmed at the dangers they were facing.
The ending was a great crescendo to a well-paced story throughout, like the slow thud of footsteps that follow you on a dark night.
Collect Night by Curran Geist:
A bit more a fantasy tale with an alien flavour which is great after all that undead!
Hank is desperate to get home to save his new family after a terrifying phone call. CG does well to evoke the distress and builds on our fears of family loss going down every possible nasty avenue of thought on the journey home.
The off world critters he describes are both sad and fear evoking and, again, I was found wondering what a longer novella would be like.
Loved the author bio.
The Cold by Devan Sagilini:
Darren is not a likeable guy, a beach bum who thinks he deserves more. A chance letter post a death and he thinks his ship has come in, but hang on this is a horror anthology nothing is THAT nice!
Great writing and build-up of character, hard to make one so dislikeable yet not cliché.
A Different Cocktail by Claire C. Riley:
The things men will do for a BJ!
A weird gothic night out and the narrator suddenly feels very hungry; an old story retold, but done well.
I liked the way it spiralled me down with the narrator, thankfully I didn’t vomit or slough my skin but I was in need of a ham sandwich post reading.
A Song to Sing in Babylon by Bobby Medvedev & Michael Baugh:
Monster children of SET are awaiting the uprising and doing various things to speed that along; rock concerts, portent watching, disease and dismemberment.
The exchanges between family members was interesting, especially seeing different views of madness. However, the ending was a bit sharp for me after all the build-up.
The Gouger by Paul Mannering:
Murdering orcas and kicking dogs off boats (albeit accidently by the character) is not my idea of a good read and I declined to fish this story, shame as it was the last story in thus far a great anthology.
Sorry author but I can’t read any form of animal harm/cruelty that is MY taboo subject.
Overall I really enjoyed this second in the Hells Gates and I can’t wait to get stuck into book 3.
ps - sorry if i got anyone's names wrong!!