The Hideous Book of Hidden Horrors, released by Bad Hand Books and edited by Stoker Award-winning editor Doug Murano, is a solid collection of very diverse voices and styles. It is rare, as a reader, that I run across a book where more than half of the stories truly resonate for me… this book is one such. It has ups and downs, like any anthology, but what is up, and what is down will naturally vary from reader to reader. Quick notes on the stories below, but the standouts for me are Cynthia Pelayo’s “Roses in the Dark,” Zoe Stage’s “What’s Missing,” “Still Life with Bones,” by Andy Davidson, “The Things We Did, We Did, Were All for Real,” by John F. D. Taft, Hailey Piper’s “When I Catch You,” “Peripheral Vision,” by Richard Thomas, “Dungeon Punchinello,” by Josh Malerman and my personal favorite from this collection – Jonathan Lees’ “They are Still Out There, You Just Can’t See Them Anymore.” All of the stories are well-written, and the variety feels just right.
“The Pelt,” by Annie Neugebauer – The appearance of a mysterious object drives a wedge between a husband and wife. Growing madness and creeping dread.
“Wish Wash,” by Sarah Read – Sort a combination of folklore and bad deals with worse things. Bad decision horror with a twist.
“When I Catch You,” by Hailey Piper – Relationships are hard. Broken relationships can be dark. Ghosts, hauntings, stalking. And that’s just the start…
“What’s Missing?,” by Zoje Stage – I guarantee that anyone caught in a rut will be left with… thoughts. Very cool story.
“Still Life with Bones,” by Andy Davidson – This is another quietly disturbing story. As in Zoje Strange’s piece in the same book… it leaves you thinking about the past & future and… things.
“The Things We Did, We Did, Were All for Real,” by John F.D. Taff – Elder Gods and telephones. Another concept that left me with images to ponder. Well done.
“Mooncake,” by Lee Murray – Ghosts… memories… and greedy friends. Very creepy story.
“Dungeon Punchinello,” by Josh Malerman – This story reminds me of why after watching Hostel, foreign travel lost some of its appeal. And I love puns.
“Below the Wildflower Hill: Sara Tantlinger – The lone poem in the volume, this is very creepy, but flows beautifully.
Don’t Open the Cellar Door: Jo Kaplan – Great message at the end of this… sad mom/daughter relationship. And the world has a shitload of history…
Roses in the Attic,” by Cynthia Pelayo – This is such a good story. Subtle nods to so many things, a bittersweet backdrop, books, fairy tales, family… and so dark.
“Peripheral Vision,” by Richard Thomas – very creepy story involving phobias, and catch-and-release bugs. A hint of the Lovecraftian. Good stuff.
“Haunted Inside,” by Gabino Iglesias – A Tricky story that starts out as if it will be one thing and then… it’s another.
“Counting Tunnels to Berry,” by Alan Baxter – This felt like it could be an episode of The Twilight Zone. Could almost hear Rod Serling’s explanations…
“Annie’s Heart is a Haunted House,” by Todd Keisling – It’s never a good idea to forget the sins of your past, or those you’ve hurt (even when you were young). Ghosts and more.
“They Are Still Out There, You Just Can’t See Them Anymore,” by Jonathan Lees – This is a multi-level story, hinting at many sorts of darkness. Creepy in the way that leaves hairs standing on end. Very well done.