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Horror wears many faces and its masks can be tantalizing. Some of the top names in queer fiction come together to spin their own versions of horror. Worlds rife with dark beauty and mystery, the familiar becoming terrible, creatures ethereal and alluring—and all bearing the gleam of love. Does hope lie along these grim passages or only doom? It will become clear. All in ti Horror wears many faces and its masks can be tantalizing. Some of the top names in queer fiction come together to spin their own versions of horror. Worlds rife with dark beauty and mystery, the familiar becoming terrible, creatures ethereal and alluring—and all bearing the gleam of love. Does hope lie along these grim passages or only doom? It will become clear. All in time—and all in fear. Company by Roan Parrish Nick Levy’s family is falling apart and he has no friends, but at least he can escape into the world of his favorite comic book series, The Face of the Vampire. Naturally, when the vampire in question shows up one day, Nick is enthralled. After all, what could be better than his own personal fantasy made real? Except that Nick isn’t exactly sure whether Michel is real or not. And when the arrival of a new boy in school promises romance, Nick sees a side of Michel he never could have imagined. This Michel is cruel, jealous...and he’ll do anything to keep Nick for himself. Love Me True by Kris Ripper Palmer's life is as good as it gets. Well, okay, so he hates his mind-numbing office job. But he's found a hot, smart, incredibly kinky guy. The sex is explosive. The power play is off the hook. And if he gets his way, Jon will soon be his husband. When Palmer asks, Jon says yes. For the first time ever, Palmer thinks things might be really good. Sure, bad things happen in the world—to other people. But this is all he needs: Jon at the end of the day, in their bed, arms around him. How could he have possibly been so stupid? The Price of Meat by KJ Charles Johanna Oakley will do anything to save her beloved Arabella from the cruelty of Mr Fogg’s madhouse—but ‘anything’ turns out to be more than she bargained for when she finds herself working for a man suspected of worse than murder. As Johanna is plunged from the horror of Sawney Reynard’s barber shop into the foul, lawless labyrinth at the heart of London, can she or anyone get out alive? His Mouth Will Taste of Chernobyl by Steve Berman Joining Zeta Psi isn’t Steve’s dream, it’s his dad’s. Nevertheless his dad’s gift of the mysterious Bailey flask gets Steve an in to the frat house, and maybe his best shot at being accepted on campus. But the flask’s silver sheen may only be lighting his way into the darkness at the heart of the frat—and the darkness he’s learning is within himself. Steve wants to choose who he is, but choices are dropping like flies as he learns the true mystery of the Bailey flask. How does he give back a gift that’s also a curse? Legion: A Love Story by Avon Gale STAFF SERGEANT JASON ESSEX, YOU HAVE RECEIVED THE FOLLOWING ORDERS FROM THE UNITED STATES MARINE CORPS: REPORT TO: CAIN INSTITUTE [ADDRESS REDACTED] ACTIVE DUTY COMMITMENT: GUARD AN ENTITY CURRENTLY HELD IN AN ENCLOSURE AT THE CAIN INSTITUTE. RECORD DAILY MEASUREMENTS. KEEP ANY AND ALL PERSONS FROM ENTERING OR LEAVING THE FACILITY. ENSURE THE ENTITY REMAINS COMPLETELY INCARCERATED. OBSERVE THE ENTITY WITHOUT ENGAGING. ADDITIONAL INSTRUCTIONS: THIS ASSIGNMENT WILL BE CARRIED OUT IN FULL ISOLATION. PLEASE BE ADVISED. Beauties by J.A. Rock When Dr. Lester Usole attends an event at AI developer Carnificiality, he’s introduced to Beauties: artificial beings designed to provide tailored sexual experiences for their human owners. Lester isn’t interested in sex—but he is fascinated by Ira, a Beauty too violent to be sold. Lester convinces Carnificiality to give Ira to him.


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Horror wears many faces and its masks can be tantalizing. Some of the top names in queer fiction come together to spin their own versions of horror. Worlds rife with dark beauty and mystery, the familiar becoming terrible, creatures ethereal and alluring—and all bearing the gleam of love. Does hope lie along these grim passages or only doom? It will become clear. All in ti Horror wears many faces and its masks can be tantalizing. Some of the top names in queer fiction come together to spin their own versions of horror. Worlds rife with dark beauty and mystery, the familiar becoming terrible, creatures ethereal and alluring—and all bearing the gleam of love. Does hope lie along these grim passages or only doom? It will become clear. All in time—and all in fear. Company by Roan Parrish Nick Levy’s family is falling apart and he has no friends, but at least he can escape into the world of his favorite comic book series, The Face of the Vampire. Naturally, when the vampire in question shows up one day, Nick is enthralled. After all, what could be better than his own personal fantasy made real? Except that Nick isn’t exactly sure whether Michel is real or not. And when the arrival of a new boy in school promises romance, Nick sees a side of Michel he never could have imagined. This Michel is cruel, jealous...and he’ll do anything to keep Nick for himself. Love Me True by Kris Ripper Palmer's life is as good as it gets. Well, okay, so he hates his mind-numbing office job. But he's found a hot, smart, incredibly kinky guy. The sex is explosive. The power play is off the hook. And if he gets his way, Jon will soon be his husband. When Palmer asks, Jon says yes. For the first time ever, Palmer thinks things might be really good. Sure, bad things happen in the world—to other people. But this is all he needs: Jon at the end of the day, in their bed, arms around him. How could he have possibly been so stupid? The Price of Meat by KJ Charles Johanna Oakley will do anything to save her beloved Arabella from the cruelty of Mr Fogg’s madhouse—but ‘anything’ turns out to be more than she bargained for when she finds herself working for a man suspected of worse than murder. As Johanna is plunged from the horror of Sawney Reynard’s barber shop into the foul, lawless labyrinth at the heart of London, can she or anyone get out alive? His Mouth Will Taste of Chernobyl by Steve Berman Joining Zeta Psi isn’t Steve’s dream, it’s his dad’s. Nevertheless his dad’s gift of the mysterious Bailey flask gets Steve an in to the frat house, and maybe his best shot at being accepted on campus. But the flask’s silver sheen may only be lighting his way into the darkness at the heart of the frat—and the darkness he’s learning is within himself. Steve wants to choose who he is, but choices are dropping like flies as he learns the true mystery of the Bailey flask. How does he give back a gift that’s also a curse? Legion: A Love Story by Avon Gale STAFF SERGEANT JASON ESSEX, YOU HAVE RECEIVED THE FOLLOWING ORDERS FROM THE UNITED STATES MARINE CORPS: REPORT TO: CAIN INSTITUTE [ADDRESS REDACTED] ACTIVE DUTY COMMITMENT: GUARD AN ENTITY CURRENTLY HELD IN AN ENCLOSURE AT THE CAIN INSTITUTE. RECORD DAILY MEASUREMENTS. KEEP ANY AND ALL PERSONS FROM ENTERING OR LEAVING THE FACILITY. ENSURE THE ENTITY REMAINS COMPLETELY INCARCERATED. OBSERVE THE ENTITY WITHOUT ENGAGING. ADDITIONAL INSTRUCTIONS: THIS ASSIGNMENT WILL BE CARRIED OUT IN FULL ISOLATION. PLEASE BE ADVISED. Beauties by J.A. Rock When Dr. Lester Usole attends an event at AI developer Carnificiality, he’s introduced to Beauties: artificial beings designed to provide tailored sexual experiences for their human owners. Lester isn’t interested in sex—but he is fascinated by Ira, a Beauty too violent to be sold. Lester convinces Carnificiality to give Ira to him.

30 review for All In Fear: A Collection of Six Horror Tales

  1. 4 out of 5

    Bark | Ladies Of Horror Fiction

    This review and the rest of the crap I write can be seen @ my blog Bark's Book Nonsense . Stop by and say hey. 6 romance authors unleash their dark side and I, for one, couldn’t be happier. These stories all focus on things darker than most romances and all have well fleshed out characters and even a few steamy moments going on between all of the scares. I could read stories like these all day, every day. Too bad I have bills and a job and there aren’t enough of these sorts of tales to feed that This review and the rest of the crap I write can be seen @ my blog Bark's Book Nonsense . Stop by and say hey. 6 romance authors unleash their dark side and I, for one, couldn’t be happier. These stories all focus on things darker than most romances and all have well fleshed out characters and even a few steamy moments going on between all of the scares. I could read stories like these all day, every day. Too bad I have bills and a job and there aren’t enough of these sorts of tales to feed that kind of need anyway . . . On to the stories. Company by Roan Parrish A lonely teen spends his summer obsessively reading a vampire comic. It seems he’s a fallen a little in love with the fictional vampire character named Michel. One early morning he just so happens to bump into his obsession in the flesh! I think I would’ve passed out dead but Nick is made of stronger stuff and the two strike up an awkward sort of friendship that brings Nick comfort. When Nick returns to school, he begins a real relationship with a genuine boy who seems to like him quite a bit but Michel is always there lurking about in the corners with menace in his eyes . . . That’ll put a damper on any romantic interludes. Is Michel real? Will Michel and/or Nick sabotage Nick’s chance for happiness and first love? I’m not telling. This was a great way to start off the collection. It’s a creepy little story and I won’t say anything more because I don’t want to ruin it. 4 Stars Love Me True by Kris Ripper “There’s nothing better after a truly shitty day than coming home, locking my boyfriend’s wrists in padded handcuffs, gagging him, and whaling on him with a paddle. Nothing is better than that feeling, that rush.” Well, then! Now that’s the way to start off a story. Palmer spends his days in a job he loathes and most of his nights at the black jack table and/or screwing his true love Jon. You can’t have everything but at least Palmer has Jon. The two are deeply in love but Jon has some devastatingly dark passions. Passions he wants to share with Palmer . . . I watch far too much true crime tv, more probably than any sane person should, and because of this I forecasted this one very early on and it didn’t surprise me. The relationship, the lust, the love, and the devastation were all nice and juicy though, just like my favorite true crime shows. 3 ½ Stars The Price of Meat by KJ Charles I think this story is my favorite. It is so horrific and yet so dignified and proper all at the same time, possibly due to the setting, the language and the spunky, fearless protagonist. Whatever it was, it all worked for me. It was nuts and I loved it. The story is complete in and of itself but I would love to see this character and this twisted world made into a full length book. Much to Johanna’s dismay, Arabella, the love of her life, has been committed to Mr Fogg’s Asylum for the Weak-Minded by her dastardly relatives. Arabella is not certifiable; her relatives are just greedy and want her inheritance. As you can imagine, Mr. Fogg’s Asylum is not a nice place. People die under their care after they’ve been horribly abused. Johanna cannot wait another day and takes action after learning a secret that she can use as leverage to free Arabella before something completely dreadful happens to her. This secret leads Johanna into a lawless land of horrors where violence, disfigurement, murder and worse terrors await all who step through a hidden door . . . This story is freaking fantastic and you must read it! It is disturbing, it has moments of dark humor, many twisty turns, and a brave “I’ll do it all my own damn self” type of heroine and my eyeballs were glued to all of its words. Five stars. His Mouth Will Taste of Chernobyl by Steve Berman Steve is one of a few pledges for a frat house. He’s really not into the whole frat-life thing but endures the pain and humiliation because it’s what his father demands – or he’ll cut off funds. "New Orleans lured me then lied to me. My father spoke as if the city had been a sweetheart of his. He loved his alma mater more than my mother. I find the entire state stifling like the shacks at summer camp, when I discovered, surrounded by other boys, how much I wanted to push one into a dark room, form a knot with our limbs, take kisses. " Before leaving for university, Steve’s dad gave him a flask and promised it would help him make friends but he must NEVER drink from it himself. It has some magical quality that fills it with whatever the drinker wishes. This is college. You can imagine just how popular this thing could make a guy! But all but one of his new frat “friends” are assholes who use and abuse him. His self-esteem is low and he’s sickened by the things he’s done, especially when a sweet boy starts showing interest in him. So armed with his magical flask, he’s forced to take his life back . . . This is angsty, awful, lusty and sweet all rolled into one short little story definitely worth your time. 4 ½ Stars Legion: A Love Story by Avon Gale This is one weird little tale. Staff Sergeant Jason Essex of the United States Marine Corps is assigned a strange mission. He is given very strict instructions to monitor an enclosure for eight weeks. The enclosure holds an “entity” that must not ever be spoken to. Jason is told that it looks like a human being but it isn’t and that it lies. There's a man in there dark and pale and something is wrong with his eyes. At first, he follows directions but as time goes by loneliness and curiosity set in and he begins to bend the rules. That’s when the freaky dreams begin . . . The story is told in letters, reports, recordings, journal entries and Reddit and Google searches that get increasingly stranger as he spends more time with the “entity” that starts looking like his former crush. This story is unique, eerie, and a little sexy too. 4 Stars Beauties by J.A. Rock “At a presentation celebrating the public opening of Carnificiality, Lester Usole watched Dr. Anne Cullom fuck a pair of twin Beauties.” In this here world, Beauties are Artificial Beings (AB’s) created for pleasure and abuse. Sick people pay good money for those things but Lester isn’t a sick person. He programs and raises AB infants and is at the ceremony for work and quite sickened by what he’s shown. It’s here he first meets Ira, an AB so dangerous, so violent that he cannot be sold to the public. He is covered in bruises and Lester makes a brash decision to take him home, keep him safe and study him. Poor misguided Lester. He truly has no idea what he has just brought home. This story was disturbing on so many levels. It isn’t sexually explicit, despite the opening sentence, but it bothered me deeply as only the best horror tales can. 4 Stars

  2. 4 out of 5

    Mel

    For the joint review with Michele all in pretty you could better visit Just Love... Mel: I was a fan of most of the authors already and I always wanted to try a book by Avon Gale, and I really like to read good short stories in between longer reads. But horror is not entirely my genre, so I knew going in that I might not like all of the stories—which is totally okay for me. Judging from the stories that I loved and from the overall good writing quality (even if I dnf’ed 2 stories because of the gr For the joint review with Michele all in pretty you could better visit Just Love... Mel: I was a fan of most of the authors already and I always wanted to try a book by Avon Gale, and I really like to read good short stories in between longer reads. But horror is not entirely my genre, so I knew going in that I might not like all of the stories—which is totally okay for me. Judging from the stories that I loved and from the overall good writing quality (even if I dnf’ed 2 stories because of the great horror), I think this is a very good anthology and I recommend it for people who are into shorts and horror, or only partly into these things like me. I think you will find something you’ll like and maybe even love, because the short stories vary in genre, theme, sexual identity, and pairing, and I’d daresay there’s something for everyone here. Michele: I was excited to read this anthology when it was announced, curious to see how these romance authors would interpret a horror theme. I don’t consider myself a horror fan, although a surprising number of my favourite stories do contain horror elements, or are written by authors who are well known in the genre. I’m very pleased to know my excitement was not misplaced, as this is a superb collection covering many different writing styles and genres, and I’m sure every reader will find something they enjoy. For me the best thing about this anthology is that it absolutely made me want to read more by every author – the quality of work is fantastic, and I truly cannot wait to devour everything I haven’t yet read. Our ratings for each story can be found in the reviews and the rating above is the average rating. Company by Roan Parrish Tags: M/M Pairing, Gay Characters, Young Adult, Vampire, School Mel: The first stories I read by Roan were some of her other short stories and they were so convincing that I tried her Middle of Somewhere series, so I’m not at all surprised that her contribution to this anthology is another winner for me. I love the first person narration, the pacing is exceptionally great, and I was creeped out by this scary tale, like, jeeez, I still have goosebumps and shivers just writing this. What stands out for me here, and what makes this story even more horrible is the layer of subconsciousness that weaves through it, addressing the question whether only ‘real’ horrors are scary or whether realness actually matters. Company tells a story of loneliness and how we cope with it. I think it can be read quite literally—YAY CREEPY VAMPIRE—but also metaphorically—OH GOD, I THINK THIS IS EVEN WORSE. However, there are some wonderfully romantic scenes here as well, which were so lovely and made me happy—for the time being. 5 stars Michele: Although we’re friendly on social media and her books have been on my radar for a while, this was my first Roan Parrish story, and wow, this was definitely a helluva introduction to her work. It’s no wonder Roan is praised for her exceptional writing style, I was ensnared by her words immediately, being more lyrical, introspective and allegorical than I’m generally used to seeing in mm romance. The first person narration really made Nick’s loneliness, then relief after finding Michel tangible, as well as his increasing desperation and fear, and as Nick continually questioned reality, the reader does too. Ultimately the truth behind his madness is left unstated, but as the central conceit of the story is whether things need to be ‘real’ to be ‘true’, it doesn’t matter. I was just as spellbound by this tale as Nick was for his companion, saviour and eventual torturer, and just as helpless to resist. Amazing. 4.5 stars Love Me True by Kris Ripper Tags: M/M Pairing, Bisexual Characters, Contemporary, BDSM, Murder Mel: I love Kris Ripper’s easy-going writing style. It sucks me right in and it’s always fun to follow zir narration and story telling. It’s often combined with scorching hot stuff and that makes it even better. That’s the case in this short story as well, but the horror aspect of Love Me True didn’t quite work for me. Well, the content is, to be fair, quite horrible, but it didn’t feel like it to me while reading. I was rather mostly turned on and the minimal dread I was feeling came mostly from having read the blurb. Overall, the idea of never really knowing whom you love remained too much on the surface for me. 2.5 stars Michele: It’s funny, Kris Ripper’s colloquial style is one that I’m usually quite indifferent to but ze seems to have perfected it, the immediacy and intimacy of zir writing is always so engaging and enjoyable, even when the story isn’t my particular cup of tea. It also helps that ze writes incredible BDSM, so naturally I’m going to be a bit swayed by that. ;-) I knew almost immediately what the ‘horror’ in this story was going to be, which coloured my reading of the dialogue and first person narration, but it was more interesting to me for that, and appreciated the subtle hints that are present throughout pointing to the terrible truth revealed at the end. Like Mel I don’t think it works particularly well as a horror story, but I suppose that’s rather the point, we don’t realise we’re living a nightmare until we wake up. Ultimately I thought Love Me True was more sad than anything else, and I was left feeling more morose than scared by this tale. 3 stars The Price of Meat by KJ Charles Tags: F/F Pairing, Lesbian Characters, Historical, Asylum, Body Mutilation Mel: Uhhhhh. While I love to be scared, I cannot with gore and, uff, this story is too much. I’m totally grossed out. Like, this is great horror. Really well written, too, but… DNF, no rating Michele: Full disclosure: I was a first reader (and very kindly acknowledged in the preface, thank you KJ!) for this story so I already knew what to expect beforehand. I don’t enjoy being scared, but I’m usually okay with gore (as long as it’s not torture porn like Saw and its ilk, no thank you), so I’m sure it’s no surprise that my comments will be rather different from Mel’s! I may not like being scared but I’m a fan of the macabre and all things Gothic, so a re-imagining of the original tale behind Sweeney Todd was right up my alley. I might be (hugely) biased as I adore all of KJ’s work, but there is some absolutely stellar writing here, with turns of phrase that alternately made me laugh and shudder from the creeping psychological fear. The opening chapter depicting a visit to an insane asylum was actually the most repulsive to me, as the tour guide, with his lascivious gaze for the ‘tender flesh in his care’ and the brutal daily life of the inmates, was too realistically evil. Apart from a few detailed descriptions of the ‘failed experiments’ I honestly didn’t find this story to be all that gory, but then I also love a musical where the ‘protagonists’ sing about the various taste sensations different professions elicit once consumed, so perhaps I’m an outlier, hehe. The queered main characters characters were all great – I especially loved fierce, intensely competent Joanna, and the way her relationship with Arabella was portrayed so sweetly, in contrast to the gruesome main plot, and with charmingly humourous narration. The Price of Meat is an excellent penny dreadful tale, purposefully sensationalist and, if you can stomach it, a fabulous read. 4.5 stars His Mouth Will Taste of Chernobyl by Steve Berman Tags: M/M Pairing, Gay Character, Paranormal, Fraternity, Magic Content Warnings: Homophobia, Body Mutilation, Non-Consensual Sex (Off-Page), Abusive Relationships to Parent and Boyfriend (Off-Page) Mel: So, fraternities and their pledging process are a horror all in themselves, if you ask me. Combined with the horror genre, this short story really is horrible. This was my first story by the author and you may consider me positively surprised. The writing is solid, the characters and plot have depths despite the short story format. I also really like the mystical/magical element in here, and what I find spectacular is the subtle yet prominent theme of internalised homophobia and shame that develops into something even hopeful and better. 4 stars Michele: Totally agree with all of Mel’s thoughts, fraternities and what they represent are innately horrific to me, so I had trouble getting through the first few pages which were upsetting on several levels for physical violence, homophobia and coercion. I was not expecting to like this story at all, but in many ways it turned out to be the most ‘positive’ story in the anthology – if you can make allowances for the terrible things that happen throughout, of course. But unlike for so many other characters depicted in these stories, there was a way to escape here, not just the magical torment but societal and self-imposed ones as well. Well, some of them, anyway. Steve Berman is a new to me author and I was pleased by this solid, well done take on supernatural and all too human horrors, so I’ll be looking to read more by him in the future. 3.5 stars Legion: A Love Story by Avon Gale Tags: M/M Pairing, Gay Character, Paranormal, Demons, Experiment, Military Content Warnings: Capture, Nightmares Mel: Holy Fuck! Right from the start I was lured in by this creepy tale. Thinking about the premise alone sends ghosty shivers up my spine. Goose Bump Alert! But creepy is not all there is to the story. It’s so funny I laughed out loud a lot, because of Jason’s voice, and because of the google searches he does, and the mails he writes and receives. It’s also quite unexpectedly sexy :D And mysterious and suffocating. I loved reading this a lot. I kinda devoured it even. Well written, well developed, and the format is well chosen. Revealing the story through journals, mails, voice recordings etc. was a great choice. 5 stars Michele: Oh my GOD. There’s really no other way to describe my reaction to this story, unless you want a series of gifs of people freaking out and flailing :D I know Avon Gale as a hockey guru, but she should definitely write more paranormal stories because she is fantastic at it. If you want to judge this anthology by whether or not it gives you nightmares, this would be the stand out tale because holy shit it so did. I also laughed out loud, which I wasn’t expecting at all, and was a welcome respite from the unceasing creepiness. The epistolary format was extremely effective to highlight Jason’s isolation and humour (those Google searches! The reddit subforum!), and knowing there’s nothing anything the reader, or anyone else can do as these things have already happened added an extra layer of fear. My one complaint would be that the first part was intensely creepy – no spoilers but that moment *with the pointing* made me squeak and gasp very loudly – but as Jason begins to form a relationship with the creature, despite the wonderful reveal of his nature I stopped being frightened, although I probably should have been more so. I also would have liked to know more about the facility and what the scientists were doing there, but as Jason had no idea, neither did we. And that’s fine! I was just so intrigued I wanted more, which is never a bad thing. Basically, read this story. And then quiver in fear with the rest of us. #theentityisactive 4.5 stars Beauties by J.A. Rock Tags: M/M Pairing, Science Fiction, Sex Slaves Content Warnings: Rape, Non-Con, Titillation Mel: Yeah, so… I only made it a few pages into this. Having survived (and liked!) the author’s The Grand Ballast, I thought I was prepared. I wasn’t. Or maybe I’ve changed. Or maybe I haven’t. Sex slaves—be they human or AI—seems like something I cannot read about, in general. The non-con is pouring off the pages (haha, the few I’ve read). Which is not to say that this is a bad story. It’s well written, as far as I can tell, and, well, I really have read too little to say anything of substance here, sorry. DNF, no rating Michele: This was also really difficult for me to read, and nearly gave up several times. But I’m glad I persevered, because it was certainly an intriguing take on the ‘traditional’ sexbot trope. I recently proofread a full length novel with a similar premise of ‘educating/rehabilitating a non-compliant pleasure android’, and the two interpretations could not have been more different, as the novel being sold as a ‘true’ romance treated noncon as standard, rather than something to abhor and acceptable to fight against as in this story. Needless to say I preferred JA Rock’s version, even if it was still extremely uncomfortable to read. I actually felt the most revulsion towards this tale, which is an interesting meta commentary on what truly constitutes ‘horror’, I think. Sexual slavery is never something I enjoy, but the focus on the importance of consent from the POV character kept me going, and as a transhumanist the issues regarding selfhood and the ‘realness’ of artificial lifeforms addressed within the story are fascinating to me, and I really liked having these questions asked by the ‘Beauty’ himself. Anyone following the current Westworld tv series will probably want to read this too. While I guessed the major plot ‘twist’ early on, the additional information in Ira’s backstory and resolution of Lester and Ira’s relationship was unexpected, but I suppose I shouldn’t have too surprised – this is a horror anthology, after all. ;-) I don’t really know how to rate this, so I’m averaging personal distaste of the subject matter with appreciation for a well executed story. 2.5 stars ____________________________________ Genre: Anthology, Short Stories, Horror, Contemporary, Young Adult, Historical, Science Fiction, Paranormal Tags: M/M Pairing, F/F Pairing, Gay Character, Bisexual Character, Lesbian Character Rating: 4 stars from Mel and Michele each as average rating Blog: Review for Just Love Romance Disclosure: ARC for Review

  3. 4 out of 5

    K.J. Charles

    A new anthology of queer horror in which I have a story! Mine is a Victorian AU penny dreadful tale, in which a young lady trying to save her lover gets involved in a murder investigation and finds herself working for a rather unpleasant barber on Fleet Street... For me the standouts of the show are the incredibly unnerving Kris Ripper story and the brilliantly weird Avon Gale, but that's the joy of an anthology, it's something for everyone (as long as that something in this case involves queer A new anthology of queer horror in which I have a story! Mine is a Victorian AU penny dreadful tale, in which a young lady trying to save her lover gets involved in a murder investigation and finds herself working for a rather unpleasant barber on Fleet Street... For me the standouts of the show are the incredibly unnerving Kris Ripper story and the brilliantly weird Avon Gale, but that's the joy of an anthology, it's something for everyone (as long as that something in this case involves queer horror, obv). NB that this isn't romance and happy endings are possible but by no means guaranteed.

  4. 4 out of 5

    CrabbyPatty

    All in Fear is an anthology of horror stories from six M/M romance writers combining vampires, cannibalism, AI, and serial killers (to mention a few) with the desire for true love. The collection includes: Company by Roan Parrish - Readers often joke about their "book boyfriends" but what happens when one actually appears to teenager Nick? Having Michel de Ludovigne from "The Face of the Vampire" comics by his side seems like a dream come true ... until it becomes a nightmare. Love Me True by Kris All in Fear is an anthology of horror stories from six M/M romance writers combining vampires, cannibalism, AI, and serial killers (to mention a few) with the desire for true love. The collection includes: Company by Roan Parrish - Readers often joke about their "book boyfriends" but what happens when one actually appears to teenager Nick? Having Michel de Ludovigne from "The Face of the Vampire" comics by his side seems like a dream come true ... until it becomes a nightmare. Love Me True by Kris Ripper - Although the odds of hooking up with another non-monogamous bisexual switch were "fucking astronomically low," boyfriends Jon and Palmer are going strong after almost three years. Seems nothing can stand in the way of true love, except for an unsolved string of murders and the fervent hope that "I could share anything with you, and you’d still love me.” The Price of Meat by K.J. Charles - Charles creates a Victorian AU with a touch of Sweeney Todd, an insane asylum and a rotting warren of land called a "liberty" - an area "in which the laws don’t hold and the King’s writ doesn’t run." Add one heroic inspector, a brave young woman and a search for the horrible truth hidden amidst the lawless liberty. Steve Berman's His Mouth Will Taste of Chernobyl is set in a New Orleans frat house during pledging. One of the pledges has a mysterious "heirloom silver hip flask, wrapped in butter-soft leather" given to him by his father with the instructions: "The flask will help you make friends. But you are never to drink from it. Ever.” Legion: A Love Story by Avon Gale - Jason, a young marine, is tasked with monitoring a mysterious life form confined in a reinforced enclosure for eight weeks while the original team of scientists and researchers leave in order to supposedly recuperate from their extended exposure to the being. The story is told in a series of emails, transcripts, diary entries and Reddit/Google searches as Jason begins to wonder if this is some sort of psych experiment, or a more horrifying possibility. Beauties by J.A. Rock - In a future where computerized intelligence in the form of ABs (Artificial Beings) was initially created for multiple commercial uses, Carnificiality has created a "diverse range of Beauties as sexual partners." Dr. Lester Usole, who works in Early Years Programming with AB babies to monitor organic brain development, is drawn to AB Beauty Ira and purchases him. But Lester soon begins to wonder: "Was loneliness a reason to create? Why else would you? If you had what you wanted beside you, inside you, all around you—what more would you need?" All in Fear has some truly frightening selections as well a few stories that, honestly, I'm still not exactly sure what they are about! "Love Me True" seems like a "ripped from the headlines" story, while K.J. Charles' alternate history is brilliantly complex and absolutely terrifying. I liked the range of styles in this anthology. Don't read these stories for romance, but I would recommend this anthology to anyone interested in the uneasy juxtaposition between love and terror. I received an ARC from Open Ink Press in exchange for an honest review. Visit my blog, Sinfully Good Gay Book Reviews

  5. 5 out of 5

    Ami

    FINISHED this anthology on 10/23 ... a week before Halloween :) Average Rate: 3.25 stars. Favorite story -- Legion: A Love Story by Avon Gale ----------- Company by Roan Parrish: 3 stars Read 13th October 2017 I didn't enjoy Roan Parrish's writing that I 'sampled' from a couple of her novels. But in this short -- or maybe because it is short -- it was okay. The story was a bit weird, basically you need to be careful of your imaginary friend, he could be very BAD for you. Love Me True by Kris Ripper: 2 FINISHED this anthology on 10/23 ... a week before Halloween :) Average Rate: 3.25 stars. Favorite story -- Legion: A Love Story by Avon Gale ----------- Company by Roan Parrish: 3 stars Read 13th October 2017 I didn't enjoy Roan Parrish's writing that I 'sampled' from a couple of her novels. But in this short -- or maybe because it is short -- it was okay. The story was a bit weird, basically you need to be careful of your imaginary friend, he could be very BAD for you. Love Me True by Kris Ripper: 2.5 stars Read 14th October 2017 Okay, the biggest reason that stopped me from enjoying this one was because I was "thrown off" with how different the vibe was with the first story, Company. Company is eerie and weird, and since it's the first story, it kind of sets the tone for the whole anthology. So reading how it's basically a contemporary love story, only with a case of murders on the side, (view spoiler)[with the MC figuring out that his boyfriend of several years is the murder (hide spoiler)] just doesn't the deliver the FEAR/HORROR aspect that I expect. The Price of Meat by K.J. Charles: 3.5 stars Read 16th October 2017 The description of the asylum and the whole idea of "(view spoiler)[having criminals with new faces and then feed the people inside with fresh meat (hide spoiler)] " is DEFINITELY the kind of CREEPY that I expected!! Totally one of the good ones here. His Mouth Will Taste of Chernobyl by Steve Berman: 3 stars Read 18th October 2017 I read Steve Berman's Vintage: A Ghost Story before but I couldn't remember much about it *lol*. This one has a combination of the 'horror' of being a pledge in fraternity and a little magic. I thought it was nice, but again, after the creepy penny dreadful short of K.J. Charles that I read previously, this one felt a little too 'contemporary' rather than horror. --- ** MY FAVORITE ** LEGION: A Love Story by Avon Gale: 4.5 stars! Read 20th October 2017 Holy Hell this was UNBELIEVABLY GOOD!! I was a bit weary at first because of the story format -- I am not a big fan or epistolary writing; I feel like letters, emails, and diary storytelling makes everything feel a bit confined, and distant myself from the characters. But this one? Wow. Just wow. Avon Gale is able to lure me into this scary intense tale, from the moment that Jason signs himself to a secret government facility, his task to monitor an enclosure, until that (happy) ending. This is definitely THE GEM of this anthology. I received this book free as a giveaway winner, but if Avon Gale will release this story individually, I will BUY that one in a heartbeat. Definitely one of the best stories I've read this year! --- Beauties by J.A. Rock: 3 stars Read 23rd October 2017 This one IS pretty dark and creepy; and that ending is way twisted. So it fits with the horror vibe. BUT I wasn't comfortable with the beginning -- the whole sexual slavery towards Artificial Beauties -- I almost DNF'ed this one because of it.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Tamika♥RBF MOOD♥

    3.5 stars I'm not going to lie, this was a bit of a let-down for me. With all these brilliant writers I expected to be scared shitless afterwards. The 2nd, 4th, & 5th was the best of the bunch. That's pushing it for me, because the first wasn't scary but I enjoyed the theme and what it involved. Story 2 & 3 weren't bad, but I was really waiting for them to be over. They weren't something that I would pick up at tall. I've never read anything by Steve Berman & Kris Ripper before. I truly liked Kri 3.5 stars I'm not going to lie, this was a bit of a let-down for me. With all these brilliant writers I expected to be scared shitless afterwards. The 2nd, 4th, & 5th was the best of the bunch. That's pushing it for me, because the first wasn't scary but I enjoyed the theme and what it involved. Story 2 & 3 weren't bad, but I was really waiting for them to be over. They weren't something that I would pick up at tall. I've never read anything by Steve Berman & Kris Ripper before. I truly liked Kris Ripper story once everything came together! It was obvious but I definitely like the characters realistic reaction during the story. I guess my reaction is that I wasn't scared at all. Yeah, certain areas were a tad frightening, but with the cover and blurb I expected it to be WOW'd, and I'm left bereft wanting the fear that I was promised. I guess, I'll try to sum up each story without giving away the plots. Company by Roan Parrish Hmm, this was weird, and I kinda liked it. I loved the idea about being a loner like Nick and having a dream come true for it to diminish in the way that it did. Michael is someone Nick was absolutely in love with. I remember feeling like Nick could be delusional. I'm not sure if he was ever there, but being petty, jealous and mean towards the new guy was crazy. I'm stumbling here because it took me a total of 14 days to read this entire book. I'm trying to write this review without going back to re-read certain things. Love Roan's writing, I'm not surprised there. She's a really dope writer, and I'd always appreciate that from her. I didn't really care for the story overall. It wasn't my favorite, but it was entertaining. I wasn't scared though. Love Me True by Kris Ripper Now this I was confused about the most, but liked the outcome. It wasn't scary or horror for me, but I think being in Palmer's shoes is probably the worst thing that I would want to go through. It was certain catchy things that his partner was doing that had me suspicious, but pretty obvious towards the ending. I mean these two lived pretty normal lives in my opinion. I've never read anything by this author, and I'm slapping myself internally on why haven't I? I mean this is a story that people can relate to. The normalcy of everyday lives and then your world getting turned upside down. The one thing I really like is Palmer didn't second guess himself. He wasn't those clueless blondes on t.v. or movies who see the signs once evidence is stacked against a loved one, and constantly denies it could be them. I ended up enjoying it once I got more involved with the plot! I enjoyed the story enough to want to read more from this author! The Price of Meat by K.J. Charles Loved the setting of this story, but I wasn't really intrigued with the plot. I guess being more disgusted is what the author was going for. It definitely had Charles niche all over it. You can definitely tell its one of her works. I like Jo's gumption. She was a fighter, and never game up. True Story, I've never watched Sweeney Todd or read the book, but I did know the overall basis of the story. I would have preferred the Asylum as the background to the story personally, but I did enjoy the mini world she built surrounding the town. So much happened that we didn't necessarily get to see Jo & Arabella's relationship blossom. It wasn't present and didn't give me the romantic notion I wanted from it. His Mouth Will Taste of Chernobyl by Steve Berman My first read by this author. Oh my goodness, I loved the mystery behind the flask. I'm not sold on any of the characters. Steve to me, was a super flake. I liked him at times, and at other times he disappointed me. I don't know what I would have done if I was in Steve's shoes. That flask is definitely dangerous, but the story didn't move me at all. It wasn't an ounce of horror in it. I kinda wanted to group it in with the buddy fraternity movies. Legion: A Love Story by Avon Gale Leave it to Avon Gale to write my favorite story out of all of them. This was super scary. I had to put it down in the evening because I was scared something weird was going to happen. Jason is staffed at this unknown facility to watch and not engage with this entity. It seems easy, all he has to do is make daily recordings of what he sees. Well that all goes to shit when he decides to engage. From here on out, it's bananas. The entity known as "Cain" is an I don't know what he really is. He's scary I can tell you that. Jason is slowing losing his mind. He reaches out to different forums and people on helping him figure it out. He thinks he's taking part of a psychological research with the U.S. Government. I wouldn't put it pass them to do something like this. From the very beginning I was intrigued with this story. It was good and that ending had me holding my breath. Really good horror story. Beauties by J.A. Rock I expect nothing less from J.A. Rock. This was my second favorite. I was not disappointed. #TeamIra for the win!!!! This amazing writer wrote a world where Artificial Beings existed. If I can sum it up in 4 words it'll be My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (Shout out to Kanye, love this album). That is literally what I kept thinking over and over. It was one of those stories that on the outside it seems perfect, but underneath it was brimming with treachery, and chaos. Lester!!! Poor Lester, tried to do something nice. This story confirms on why in the future SHE won't be participating in ROBOTS of any kind. No ma'am, I'm not going to let something MAN created get the one up on me. I really enjoyed this story alot. I could definitely read more of this.  

  7. 5 out of 5

    Roxana Chirilă

    I enjoyed this more than Stephen King's "It" and found it scarier. There, I've said it. Since all the authors are romance authors (as far as I know), I was expecting this to be a collection of romantic stories with a horror setting and the usual happy ending. Instead, it's mostly a collection of tales in which the creepy gets creepier and people die. "The Price of Meat" by K.J. Charles (which I'd read before) is the one exception - it's a relatively optimistic penny dreadful-type story inspired by I enjoyed this more than Stephen King's "It" and found it scarier. There, I've said it. Since all the authors are romance authors (as far as I know), I was expecting this to be a collection of romantic stories with a horror setting and the usual happy ending. Instead, it's mostly a collection of tales in which the creepy gets creepier and people die. "The Price of Meat" by K.J. Charles (which I'd read before) is the one exception - it's a relatively optimistic penny dreadful-type story inspired by Sweeney Todd. A young woman finds employment in a creepy barber shop in exchange for a policeman recovering her beloved from a madhouse. People get killed and eaten like cattle there - but there's a happy ending and the love runs strong. With the rest of the stories, the horror tends to take over as people fall in love or lust with the wrong creature. The collection is pretty tame when it comes to violence and gore, but it does a great job when it comes to creating atmosphere, at least as far as I'm concerned.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Amy Cousins

    I am my friends' favorite person to go see scary movies with, because I squeal and shriek and hide behind my hands while clutching their arm or curling up in a ball in my seat. So when I got a chance to read ALL IN FEAR, a queer horror anthology that releases December 1st, I almost hid under the bed. But this collection features a bunch of my absolute favorite authors, so I dug deep for courage and say, "HELL, YES, PLEASE GIMME NOW." I finished it this morning & I'm still thinking about these st I am my friends' favorite person to go see scary movies with, because I squeal and shriek and hide behind my hands while clutching their arm or curling up in a ball in my seat. So when I got a chance to read ALL IN FEAR, a queer horror anthology that releases December 1st, I almost hid under the bed. But this collection features a bunch of my absolute favorite authors, so I dug deep for courage and say, "HELL, YES, PLEASE GIMME NOW." I finished it this morning & I'm still thinking about these stories. They made me shiver and cringe and have to put my Kindle down for a moment to take deep breaths to quell my anxiety, but they're so damn well written I was 100% sucked in to their utterly fascinating worlds. Some of the stories have happy endings, and others the only endings they could possible have, but I enjoyed the whole collection. ALL IN FEAR is creepy as hell and totally mesmerizing. Highly rec'd.

  9. 4 out of 5

    neverwhere

    This review originally appeared on Just Love: Queer Book Reviews (and is much prettier there!) Co-reviewed with JLR member Mel Michele: I was excited to read this anthology when it was announced, curious to see how these romance authors would interpret a horror theme. I don’t consider myself a horror fan, although a surprising number of my favourite stories do contain horror elements, or are written by authors who are well known in the genre. I’m very pleased to know my excitement was not misplace This review originally appeared on Just Love: Queer Book Reviews (and is much prettier there!) Co-reviewed with JLR member Mel Michele: I was excited to read this anthology when it was announced, curious to see how these romance authors would interpret a horror theme. I don’t consider myself a horror fan, although a surprising number of my favourite stories do contain horror elements, or are written by authors who are well known in the genre. I’m very pleased to know my excitement was not misplaced, as this is a superb collection covering many different writing styles and genres, and I’m sure every reader will find something they enjoy. For me the best thing about this anthology is that it absolutely made me want to read more by every author – the quality of work is fantastic, and I truly cannot wait to devour everything I haven’t yet read. Our ratings for each story can be found in the reviews Company Tags: M/M Pairing, Gay Characters, Young Adult, Vampire, School Mel: The first stories I read by Roan were some of her other short stories and they were so convincing that I tried her Middle of Somewhere series, so I’m not at all surprised that her contribution to this anthology is another winner for me. I love the first person narration, the pacing is exceptionally great, and I was creeped out by this scary tale, like, jeeez, I still have goosebumps and shivers just writing this. What stands out for me here, and what makes this story even more horrible is the layer of subconsciousness that weaves through it, addressing the question whether only ‘real’ horrors are scary or whether realness actually matters. Company tells a story of loneliness and how we cope with it. I think it can be read quite literally—YAY CREEPY VAMPIRE—but also metaphorically—OH GOD, I THINK THIS IS EVEN WORSE. However, there are some wonderfully romantic scenes here as well, which were so lovely and made me happy—for the time being. 5 stars Michele: Although we’re friendly on social media and her books have been on my radar for a while, this was my first Roan Parrish story, and wow, this was definitely a helluva introduction to her work. It’s no wonder Roan is praised for her exceptional writing style, I was ensnared by her words immediately, being more lyrical, introspective and allegorical than I’m generally used to seeing in mm romance. The first person narration really made Nick’s loneliness, then relief after finding Michel tangible, as well as his increasing desperation and fear, and as Nick continually questioned reality, the reader does too. Ultimately the truth behind his madness is left unstated, but as the central conceit of the story is whether things need to be ‘real’ to be ‘true’, it doesn’t matter. I was just as spellbound by this tale as Nick was for his companion, saviour and eventual torturer, and just as helpless to resist. Amazing. 4.5 stars Love Me True Tags: M/M Pairing, Bisexual Characters, Contemporary, BDSM, Murder Mel: I love Kris Ripper’s easy-going writing style. It sucks me right in and it’s always fun to follow zir narration and story telling. It’s often combined with scorching hot stuff and that makes it even better. That’s the case in this short story as well, but the horror aspect of Love Me True didn’t quite work for me. Well, the content is, to be fair, quite horrible, but it didn’t feel like it to me while reading. I was rather mostly turned on and the minimal dread I was feeling came mostly from having read the blurb. Overall, the idea of never really knowing whom you love remained too much on the surface for me. 2.5 stars Michele: It’s funny, Kris Ripper’s colloquial style is one that I’m usually quite indifferent to but ze seems to have perfected it, the immediacy and intimacy of zir writing is always so engaging and enjoyable, even when the story isn’t my particular cup of tea. It also helps that ze writes incredible BDSM, so naturally I’m going to be a bit swayed by that. The Price of Meat Tags: F/F Pairing, Lesbian Characters, Historical, Asylum, Body Mutilation Mel: Uhhhhh. While I love to be scared, I cannot with gore and, uff, this story is too much. I’m totally grossed out. Like, this is great horror. Really well written, too, but… DNF, no rating Michele: Full disclosure: I was a first reader (and very kindly acknowledged in the preface, thank you KJ!) for this story so I already knew what to expect beforehand. I don’t enjoy being scared, but I’m usually okay with gore (as long as it’s not torture porn like Saw and its ilk, no thank you), so I’m sure it’s no surprise that my comments will be rather different from Mel’s! I may not like being scared but I’m a fan of the macabre and all things Gothic, so a re-imagining of the original tale behind Sweeney Todd was right up my alley. I might be (hugely) biased as I adore all of KJ’s work, but there is some absolutely stellar writing here, with turns of phrase that alternately made me laugh and shudder from the creeping psychological fear. The opening chapter depicting a visit to an insane asylum was actually the most repulsive to me, as the tour guide, with his lascivious gaze for the ‘tender flesh in his care’ and the brutal daily life of the inmates, was too realistically evil. Apart from a few detailed descriptions of the ‘failed experiments’ I honestly didn’t find this story to be all that gory, but then I also love a musical where the ‘protagonists’ sing about the various taste sensations different professions elicit once consumed, so perhaps I’m an outlier, hehe. The queered main characters characters were all great – I especially loved fierce, intensely competent Joanna, and the way her relationship with Arabella was portrayed so sweetly, in contrast to the gruesome main plot, and with charmingly humourous narration. The Price of Meat is an excellent penny dreadful tale, purposefully sensationalist and, if you can stomach it, a fabulous read. 4.5 stars His Mouth Will Taste of Chernobyl Tags: M/M Pairing, Gay Character, Paranormal, Fraternity, Magic Content Warnings: Homophobia, Body Mutilation, Non-Consensual Sex (Off-Page), Abusive Relationships to Parent and Boyfriend (Off-Page) Mel: So, fraternities and their pledging process are a horror all in themselves, if you ask me. Combined with the horror genre, this short story really is horrible. This was my first story by the author and you may consider me positively surprised. The writing is solid, the characters and plot have depths despite the short story format. I also really like the mystical/magical element in here, and what I find spectacular is the subtle yet prominent theme of internalised homophobia and shame that develops into something even hopeful and better. 4 stars Michele: Totally agree with all of Mel’s thoughts, fraternities and what they represent are innately horrific to me, so I had trouble getting through the first few pages which were upsetting on several levels for physical violence, homophobia and coercion. I was not expecting to like this story at all, but in many ways it turned out to be the most ‘positive’ story in the anthology – if you can make allowances for the terrible things that happen throughout, of course. But unlike for so many other characters depicted in these stories, there was a way to escape here, not just the magical torment but societal and self-imposed ones as well. Well, some of them, anyway. Steve Berman is a new to me author and I was pleased by this solid, well done take on supernatural and all too human horrors, so I’ll be looking to read more by him in the future. 3.5 stars Legion: A Love Story Tags: M/M Pairing, Gay Character, Paranormal, Demons, Experiment, Military Content Warnings: Capture, Nightmares Mel: Holy Fuck! Right from the start I was lured in by this creepy tale. Thinking about the premise alone sends ghosty shivers up my spine. Goose Bump Alert! But creepy is not all there is to the story. It’s so funny I laughed out loud a lot, because of Jason’s voice, and because of the google searches he does, and the mails he writes and receives. It’s also quite unexpectedly sexy And mysterious and suffocating. I loved reading this a lot. I kinda devoured it even. Well written, well developed, and the format is well chosen. Revealing the story through journals, mails, voice recordings etc. was a great choice. 5 stars Michele: Oh my GOD. There’s really no other way to describe my reaction to this story, unless you want a series of gifs of people freaking out and flailing :D I know Avon Gale as a hockey guru, but she should definitely write more paranormal stories because she is fantastic at it. If you want to judge this anthology by whether or not it gives you nightmares, this would be the stand out tale because holy shit it so did. I also laughed out loud, which I wasn’t expecting at all, and was a welcome respite from the unceasing creepiness. The epistolary format was extremely effective to highlight Jason’s isolation and humour (those Google searches! The reddit subforum!), and knowing there’s nothing anything the reader, or anyone else can do as these things have already happened added an extra layer of fear. My one complaint would be that the first part was intensely creepy – no spoilers but that moment *with the pointing* made me squeak and gasp very loudly – but as Jason begins to form a relationship with the creature, despite the wonderful reveal of his nature I stopped being frightened, although I probably should have been more so. I also would have liked to know more about the facility and what the scientists were doing there, but as Jason had no idea, neither did we. And that’s fine! I was just so intrigued I wanted more, which is never a bad thing. Basically, read this story. And then quiver in fear with the rest of us. #theentityisactive 4.5 stars Beauties Tags: M/M Pairing, Science Fiction, Sex Slaves Content Warnings: Rape, Non-Con, Titillation Mel: Yeah, so… I only made it a few pages into this. Having survived (and liked!) the author’s The Grand Ballast, I thought I was prepared. I wasn’t. Or maybe I’ve changed. Or maybe I haven’t. Sex slaves—be they human or AI—seems like something I cannot read about, in general. The non-con is pouring off the pages (haha, the few I’ve read). Which is not to say that this is a bad story. It’s well written, as far as I can tell, and, well, I really have read too little to say anything of substance here, sorry. DNF, no rating Michele: This was also really difficult for me to read, and nearly gave up several times. But I’m glad I persevered, because it was certainly an intriguing take on the ‘traditional’ sexbot trope. I recently proofread a full length novel with a similar premise of ‘educating/rehabilitating a non-compliant pleasure android’, and the two interpretations could not have been more different, as the novel being sold as a ‘true’ romance treated noncon as standard, rather than something to abhor and acceptable to fight against as in this story. Needless to say I preferred JA Rock’s version, even if it was still extremely uncomfortable to read. I actually felt the most revulsion towards this tale, which is an interesting meta commentary on what truly constitutes ‘horror’, I think. Sexual slavery is never something I enjoy, but the focus on the importance of consent from the POV character kept me going, and as a transhumanist the issues regarding selfhood and the ‘realness’ of artificial lifeforms addressed within the story are fascinating to me, and I really liked having these questions asked by the ‘Beauty’ himself. Anyone following the current Westworld tv series will probably want to read this too. While I guessed the major plot ‘twist’ early on, the additional information in Ira’s backstory and resolution of Lester and Ira’s relationship was unexpected, but I suppose I shouldn’t have been too surprised – this is a horror anthology, after all. ;-) I don’t really know how to rate this, so I’m averaging personal distaste of the subject matter with appreciation for a well executed story. 2.5 stars

  10. 4 out of 5

    Jean Roberta

    This is a small collection of queer horror tales, but they are diverse and powerful. Almost every horror staple you might expect – a demon, a vampire, several serial killers, artificial intelligence with a will of its own, magical objects, cannibalism – is here, except for a ghost. Strangely enough, there is no haunted house or castle in this anthology, but you won’t mind the lack of dead characters. The live ones are scary enough. In “Company” by Roan Parrish, a lonely boy encounters a mysteriou This is a small collection of queer horror tales, but they are diverse and powerful. Almost every horror staple you might expect – a demon, a vampire, several serial killers, artificial intelligence with a will of its own, magical objects, cannibalism – is here, except for a ghost. Strangely enough, there is no haunted house or castle in this anthology, but you won’t mind the lack of dead characters. The live ones are scary enough. In “Company” by Roan Parrish, a lonely boy encounters a mysterious stranger: “He wasn’t precisely real, though he was solid enough. My nose bumped his breastbone, but there was a certain not-thereness to him all the same.” The boy recognizes Michel, his favourite character in a graphic novel about sexy French vampires. What could go wrong? Michel doesn’t actually drink the narrator’s blood, but what he does is heartbreaking. “Love Me True” by Kris Ripper is completely realistic, and too possible. Palmer never thought he would find another bisexual switch until he met Jon, who is the perfect consolation for a mind-numbing job: “There’s nothing better after a truly shitty day than coming home, locking my boyfriend’s wrists in padded handcuffs, gagging him, and whaling on him with a paddle. Nothing is better than that feeling, that rush. Winning big at the blackjack table barely even comes close.” Palmer wants them to be “partners in crime” for the rest of their lives. Jon wants that too, but his vision of future joy is so far from Palmer’s that he has to explain it in graphic detail. And that changes everything. “The Price of Meat” by K. J. Charles is a variation on the plot of Sweeney Todd, the musical about a murderous Victorian barber. Charles’ story begins thus: “In the time of England’s steep decline, when Victor II sprawled on the throne and lost colonies as carelessly as a child loses toys, there stood a number of institutions that should never have been permitted to exist.” One of these institutions is Mr. Fogg’s madhouse, from which Miss Johanna Oakley is determined to rescue her beloved Arabella. Another is “the liberty of Alsatia,” an urban wasteland that the law cannot touch, and where Miss Oakley must discover why so many customers enter Mr. Sawney Reynard’s barber shop and so few emerge. In “His Mouth Will Taste of Chernobyl” by Steve Berman, gay narrator Steve is sent by his parents to New Orleans to attend Tulane University and join fraternity Zeta Psi, an experience guaranteed to be hellish. Before Steve leaves his home in New Jersey, however, his father gives him a magical cup, saying: “’You need to take this with you. It’s been in the family for generations. I took it to Princeton. Where you’re going, you’ll definitely need it.’” An underdog armed with such a talisman stands a good chance of survival, even against a bully whose nickname is “Chernobyl.” Steve learns that allies can be found in unexpected places. In “Legion: A Love Story” by Avon Gale, a young Marine named Jason is given a very unusual assignment: he is to record the temperature and barometric pressure in the military enclosure where a captured “entity” is being held. Needless to say, Jason is not to engage with the prisoner, but he can’t resist looking at it. He writes in his journal: “I’m a goddamn Marine. I’ve been in combat. I’ve seen people die. But last night I had a dream about that thing’s mouth and I woke up trying to scream.” The development of Jason’s fear and curiosity about the “thing” are recorded in a series of emails, Google searches, and journal entries. Eventually, the two are communicating, and Jason’s fear turns into – a different feeling. Is damnation real? Read this story and judge for yourself. “Beauties” by J.A. Rock is about the constructed beings known as “artificial intelligence.” In the world of this story, “Beauties” are created for a specific purpose: “At a presentation celebrating the public opening of Carnificiality, Lester Usole watched Dr. Anne Cullom fuck a pair of twin Beauties.” As a former trainer of A.I. babies, Lester is troubled by the sexual exploitation of adult versions who can hardly be distinguished from humans. Ira, a particular male Beauty who seems unsuited for submission, appeals to Lester’s empathy, and he brings Ira home. Lester’s treatment of Ira as a human companion with his own will has drastic consequences because Ira has a history that Lester doesn’t learn until it is too late. Each of these mini-novellas pulls the reader into a distinct, well-realized setting, where events unfold in ways that seem inevitable without being easily predictable. Some of these tales end on a hopeful note, and some end tragically when the protagonists realize they are trapped in various versions of Hell. This collection is likely to linger in your mind long after you’ve finished reading it. What happens to honest, kind and open-minded protagonists – like you or someone you know -- could happen to anyone. Sweet dreams.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Ana

    Company by Roan Parrish This was really nice, I really loved Nick, he was so sweet, it was hard not to love him. Michel was also nice, but just for the different reasons than Nick. He was so scary. I loved this character very much because I keep guessing all the time about what was on his mind. The plot is really good, is different, it had some nice romantic moments. I liked how Nick was very ambivalent about his feelings for Michel, I was great to see the doubt in him and how the relationship ch Company by Roan Parrish This was really nice, I really loved Nick, he was so sweet, it was hard not to love him. Michel was also nice, but just for the different reasons than Nick. He was so scary. I loved this character very much because I keep guessing all the time about what was on his mind. The plot is really good, is different, it had some nice romantic moments. I liked how Nick was very ambivalent about his feelings for Michel, I was great to see the doubt in him and how the relationship change. Love Me True by Kris Ripper One of the things I loved the most of this story was the BDSM, It kind of feel like those were the best moments in Palmer and Jon’s relationship. For most of the story everything seemed pretty normal, I loved the way how some perfectly normal life can suddenly became some horror story. It was a very realistic turn of events. The characters were nice, and their relationship was so lovely, they were percent together. The Price of Meat by KJ Charles This story had some of the elements that, generally, might make me not read it. Most importantly of them all, I don’t like reading historical that much. But it was a good example, to me, of how pushing boundaries is important sometimes. I loved it. I was so amazing, It was so strong on the mystery part. The plot was so good, It start a little slow but there was a moments when I just couldn’t stop reading, so exciting. The characters were very nice. I do feel like I didn’t get to know them as much as I would like. The only issue I had with it is that I want more, I wish I could get to know more of Johanna and Arabella’s relationship and there is a character near the end that I would really love to know his story. It’s my first book from the author, but judging by the way I felt reading this, It surely won’t be the last. His Mouth Will Taste of Chernobyl by Steve Berman I really liked Carl, he was such a sweet character, but I wasn’t sure about Steve. I just couldn’t care so much for him, but one thing I really liked of him, was his internal struggle of not become something he didn’t want. The secondary characters were interesting. I was a little confused at the beginning of the story, but after a while it was nice to guess the mystery behind the flask. Legion: A Love Story by Avon Gale This was so awful, but in the right kind of way. It was terrifying. I was so scared I thought I wouldn’t be able to sleep after finished reading this one. One of my usual reactions when I’m scared, which doesn’t happen often, is laughing, I don’t know why but that’s what I do. While reading this, I was laughing uncontrollably. There were times when I had to put the book down to pull myself together. And I even was afraid of being alone. The entity was an awful thing, something I would never read about. I know my limits and what scares me, and I think, if know what that thing was, I probably wouldn’t read it, but as I was blind to what it was I read it anyway. I don’t regret it because the story was amazing and I probably would have missed it. I’m speechless about it, I just was so frightened, but even then I think this was the story I liked the most. Is the first time I read something from this author, but someone who can create such strong emotion on a reader, it surely needs to be read. I will be looking for more books her. Beauties by J.A. Rock I really loved this story, but most of it I loved Ira, he was such a beautiful character, I liked everything about him, his apparent inability the feel emotions, the monotonous way he speak, how a non-human character can seemed more human than actual humans. The way he thinks, is also very interesting, especially in the last moments of the book. I liked Lester too, but I guess not as much as Ira. Some of the events, even though awfully sad, made such a great story. It was very unexpected, I really enjoyed it. Overall I think it was an amazing group of stories. There is a little bit of everything here. I think a lot of reader can enjoy it. It is important before reading it to know that it might not be happy endings in all of the stories, but regardless that fact, there are some really amazing stories told here. • ARC Provided by publisher

  12. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    I was so excited to read this anthology, even though I’m a baby when it comes to horror movies and books. I get scared very easily, but I also love to challenge myself to read books out of my comfort zone. A collection of queer horror tales was the perfect way to do this. It also helps that this anthology featured a few of my favourite queer romance authors, as well as many I have been meaning to read for a while. It was a great way to get a taste of their writing, and I definitely enjoyed the st I was so excited to read this anthology, even though I’m a baby when it comes to horror movies and books. I get scared very easily, but I also love to challenge myself to read books out of my comfort zone. A collection of queer horror tales was the perfect way to do this. It also helps that this anthology featured a few of my favourite queer romance authors, as well as many I have been meaning to read for a while. It was a great way to get a taste of their writing, and I definitely enjoyed the stories. I also love how this anthology doesn’t just feature paranormal horror, but horror of all varieties: depression, finding out a terrible secret about your lover, people being taken advantage of, college fraternities, government projects, futuristic society. There’s something for everyone in this anthology. Company by Roan Parrish Roan Parrish is a massive name in the m/m romance community, but I have as yet to read any of her work. Company is the first short story in the anthology and it was the perfect, creepy start to the collection. Nick, a lonely high school student, has his life changed when his favourite vampire character from a beloved comic book series is suddenly brought to life – but he’s not sure if Michel is real or not. When a new boy arrives at school and Nick begins to fall for him, Michel suddenly turns cruel and violent, and he’s ruining Nick’s life. Parrish’s writing was lyrical yet set a disturbing, menacing mood that was also depicted through Michel. Nick was a very relatable protagonist – his loneliness was hard to read and you can’t help but feel for him, but that has nothing on how chilling his fear and anxiety is as he begins to question reality. Company was a tantalising story that has the reader examining what is real right along with Nick. My only criticism would be the ending: although it did ultimately make sense with the plot, I felt like I was left on a cliffhanger, desperately wanting to know more! 4 stars Love Me True by Kris Ripper Love Me True is a story that rips you apart. The blurb is purposely vague and, while the majority of the story is romantic and happy, I had this sick feeling in my stomach as I began to piece bits together. Palmer is about to propose to the love of his life, who is as equally into BDSM and power play in the bedroom as he is. When Jon says yes, Palmer thinks that his life is finally complete. He should have known better. This story doesn’t feature any paranormal or supernatural activity, the horror is in how realistic and almost commonplace the plot is. It’s literally a lover’s worst nightmare, and I read in dread once everything comes together. This story does feature a non-monogamous relationship, and I have never been the biggest fan of books with that romance (probably because they’re written quite fetish-like!), but in this novel my eyes were opened to different types of relationships. Story time: my greatest fear is to have what happened to Palmer happen to me. To those you have read the story, I know you’re laughing at me (because it’s ridiculous and will never happen), but from ages 14-16, I read crime novels almost exclusively, and in so many of them, these circumstances unfolded. I think my adolescent brain took this plot line and embedded it in me and that’s why this story really spoke to me 😂. All in all, Love Me True is the creepiest, and saddest, short story of the anthology. 4 stars The Price of Meat by K.J. Charles You all know KJ and I go way back … well, I go way back with KJ, she doesn’t know me from a bar of soap, but I have read ALL of her bibliography, and I have to say The Price of Meat is the most terrifying. The only f/f story in the anthology, The Price of Meat is KJ’s queer take on the Sweeny Todd tale, and it is as gory and frightening as you already think it will be. KJ’s writing was first-rate in this story and completely sets the tone as a 19th century penny dreadful. I was drawn in from the very first line, and the story became a favourite the moment the heroine Johanna opened her mouth and spoke. She’s fierce and more capable than any of the male characters. The plot was gruesome and, frankly, horrifying, but so creative too. KJ was inspired by the Sweeny Todd story to be sure, but she’s clearly stamped her own unique mark to the tale. The Price of Meat is the most horrifying of the horror collection, and if you can handle this story, you can handle anything. 4.5 stars His Mouth Will Taste of Chernobyl by Steve Berman TW: Homophobia, non-con, body mutilation Although not horror in the immediate sense, this short story is based on the hazing set in college fraternities, a horror in their own sense. But I absolutely love realistic horror, especially the kind that focuses on coming-of-age stories, as is the case with His Mouth Will Taste of Chernobyl. This story was chock full of angst and it was probably the sickening story of the collection. The characters are awful people – of course they are, they’re college frat buddies! – but Steve, the narrator, had a strong voice and he knew exactly who he was and didn’t change for anyone, despite the rampant homophobia – internalised and outspoken – he experienced. I was also intrigued by the slight magical-realism element of the story, and how that developed through the plot. This was also one of the few novellas that made me have a smile on my face by the time I finished the story. 4 stars Legion: A Love Story by Avon Gale I’ve only recently discovered the fantastic novels from Avon Gale, and I’m slowly making my way through her Scoring Chances series. Reading Legion proved to me that Gale one of the leading voices in queer fiction, and I will be reading all of her work now. Staff Sergeant Jason Essex of the U.S. Marine Corps has been given a strange assignment: he has to monitor a ‘being’ in an enclosure for eight weeks, with no contact with any other people for that entire time. This story is the best of the collection, and I am still thinking about it weeks after I finished reading it (I’ve also reread it like three times since). Legion is written through form of an epistolary format: through a collection of emails, diary entries, Google searches, and voice memos. Right off the bat, this story is unique in how it was written – and it only gets better from there. I was following along with Jason’s fear and anxiety as he researched what it could possibly be. And then, suddenly, I began to worry for a whole different reason. I loved the development of Jason’s relationship with the being, from fear to interest to … well, you’ll have to read it to find out. 5 stars Beauties by L.A. Rock TW: Rape, and non-con (alluded to quite strongly/off-page) The last story is the most disturbing/nauseating of the anthology, as it depicts a world where sexual slavery is rampant through the creation of AIs (artificial intelligence). I don’t enjoy stories about sexual slavery, because often they tend to focus more on titillation then about the issues of slavery or even the character overcoming their circumstances, but the importance of consent was a major theme in this story, and the mentions of rape were called out by the protagonist. But still, this is a hard story to read. Beauties is, frankly, a terrifying story about what life would be like if robots gained sentience on an almost-but-not-quite human level – they can’t quite comprehend human morals, and that is where the horror comes into play. Lester, the protagonist, had a soft-spot for AIs and he, for lack of a better term, ‘adopted’ a difficult AI called Ira, and attempted to quell his behaviour. The story was a little confusing as there is a deeper mystery at play, but everything came together at the conclusion … and certainly not in the way the reader would imagine. A well-executed story, but your enjoyment will depend on your reading experiences and tastes. 3 stars

  13. 5 out of 5

    Lisa The Novel Approach

    4.5 Stars ~ The appeal of horror for me has always been in the cerebral. The ominous places an author can take my imagination is one of the things I love about the genre; but then, that push one step further into a physical response—the chills and heart pumping adrenaline spikes—elevates the reading experience to another level. The irresistable appeal of the anthology All in Fear began with its contributing authors and ended with its deliciously frightening storytelling. Each of the novellas in t 4.5 Stars ~ The appeal of horror for me has always been in the cerebral. The ominous places an author can take my imagination is one of the things I love about the genre; but then, that push one step further into a physical response—the chills and heart pumping adrenaline spikes—elevates the reading experience to another level. The irresistable appeal of the anthology All in Fear began with its contributing authors and ended with its deliciously frightening storytelling. Each of the novellas in this collection share a common thread in that they are a reminder that life is fragile, fear is a reality and reality is sometimes terrifying, and sometimes, the monsters are human. There is a touching aspect to them too, though; a poignant spot within their darkness that brings with it an emotional connection to the characters. KJ Charles’ The Price of Meat and Steve Berman’s His Mouth Will Taste of Chernobyl come closest to what could be called a happy ending. Avon Gale’s Legion: A Love Story notches its way in there as well—if you stretch your definition of happy just a bit—but the absolute best part of all the stories is wading through some horribly good madness along the way. There’s so much to whet the horror hungry appetite in this book, an abundance of dark themes to sink your teeth into. Roan Parrish’s covetous vampire in Company does not share well and his obsession with Nick Levy exacts a dear price from the boy. Kris Ripper’s Love Me True is a sinister and twisted love story that proves the course of true love never did run smooth, and, in fact, can be downright deadly. KJ Charles’ The Price of Meat pays homage to Sweeney Todd and gives new meaning to the saying “you are what you eat,” and does so in the author’s inimitable style. His Mouth Will Taste of Chernobyl, Steve Berman’s take on fraternities and hazing, adds a bit more malevolence and a helping of black magic to the collection. Rounding things out is Legion: A Love Story, Avon Gale’s take on a military assignment that puts Marine Staff Sergeant Jason Essex in direct proximity with temptation and an entity that will go on to change his life forever–the only way to get rid of a temptation, after all, is to yield to it. And finally, J.A. Rock’s Beauties brings the anthology to a close, introducing artificial intelligence in a story that Mary Shelley might have appreciated for its Frankenstein-esque theme of man’s obsession with creating life without considering the ramifications of playing the God creator. These ten-second-summaries are but a mere scratch on the surface of the deeper elements of each story, and there isn’t a single one I didn’t relish every word of; though I will say that Berman’s “Chernobyl” reads more like flash fiction than the others, which I feel offered more fully realized story arcs. Still, All in Fear is a fantastic collection of dark and intriguing storytelling, with some lovely twists and some twisted lovelies, just in time to bring a little horror to the holidays. Reviewed by Lisa for The Novel Approach Reviews

  14. 4 out of 5

    Georgie-who-is-Sarah-Drew

    I think perhaps horror isn't my thing. It always seems to be irredeemably negative, at least based on the majority of the stories in this anthology. The KJ Charles is the most interesting of the selection by a long margin. That's not to say the others aren't well-written, but I've just not got my head round reading things where the interest is in "exactly how is this all going to end in bloodshed, the annihilation of hope, and the gruesome dismemberment of limbs and souls?" I think perhaps horror isn't my thing. It always seems to be irredeemably negative, at least based on the majority of the stories in this anthology. The KJ Charles is the most interesting of the selection by a long margin. That's not to say the others aren't well-written, but I've just not got my head round reading things where the interest is in "exactly how is this all going to end in bloodshed, the annihilation of hope, and the gruesome dismemberment of limbs and souls?"

  15. 5 out of 5

    Anton Prosser

    A nice array of creepy stories

  16. 4 out of 5

    Sammy Goode

    Overall I would rate this collection very high and recommend it to anyone who loves a bit of the macabre. Let’s take a look at each story individually. Company by Roan Parrish Company by Roan Parrish was by far one of the creepiest of the stories in this anthology. Nick’s life is basically a mess—his parents are divorcing, his own social life is, at first, seemingly stable but quickly changes making him a loner and to make matters worse his favorite comic book character—a vampire, seems to have co Overall I would rate this collection very high and recommend it to anyone who loves a bit of the macabre. Let’s take a look at each story individually. Company by Roan Parrish Company by Roan Parrish was by far one of the creepiest of the stories in this anthology. Nick’s life is basically a mess—his parents are divorcing, his own social life is, at first, seemingly stable but quickly changes making him a loner and to make matters worse his favorite comic book character—a vampire, seems to have come to life…or has he? Michel appears to Nick one evening and then disappears only to return sporadically, causing Nick to long for the mysterious man. However, when Nick becomes friends with a new boy in class, the tables turn swiftly and the strange Michel warns Nick that accidents often happen to those who don’t do as he likes. That’s when Nick’s new friend, turned boyfriend, starts to get injured. Now Nick has a decision to make—continue seeing his boyfriend or give him up—all for the cold arms of a ghost? Most definitely this story keeps the reader guessing as to what exactly Michel truly is—an apparition of a teenager desperate for love and companionship or a true demon come to life with a very jealous and deadly view on relationships. Either way, Michel keeps coming around just enough to make poor Nick both dependent on his affections and later absolutely terrified of disobeying him. It is an uneasy seesaw of emotions that roil about in this short tale that skirts the edges of insanity—and leaves one guessing clear to the end. Rating: 4 Stars Love Me True by Kris Ripper Love me True was a rather creepy mystery that unfortunately gave away just a few too many clues too soon. I found the premise to be very intriguing but also realized I knew exactly where the story was headed way before the big mystery was revealed. Palmer is in a open relationship with Jon—both are into some serious BDSM and kink and both are switches—alternating the role of Dom and submissive quite easily. As Palmer states this alone is a rare find and the author does the give and take between the two men very well. Their interactions are pretty intense and be forewarned there is some interesting kink going on here including a definite foot fetish on Palmer’s part. After Palmer decides he is truly in love with Jon and wants to make their relationship permanent, he runs into a former high school friend who he also had a one night stand with back in the day. Yes, Palmer is bisexual. He has a rather odd conversation with her regarding superheroes and how common folk can be just that. He dismisses it as a bit of strange interaction until a few weeks later when she shows up in his building’s laundry room and threatens him with handcuffs and essentially attempts to kidnap him. During this bizarre incident, she keeps talking about how he knew what was happening and how he somehow had to be involved. After he manages to escape, Palmer realizes she must have been talking about the string of murders that are happening at local casinos—a place he often goes to in order to gamble—something he enjoys. Later when he tells Jon of all that has happened, Palmer discovers that the “Poker Killer” is a lot closer than he ever imagined. This story had a lot going for it—not the least of which was a definite chemistry that was established quickly and believably between Palmer and Jon. As far as the bit of interaction between the girl from school and Palmer, I felt that to be a bit unfinished—too little explanation and a bit contrived. However, with the big reveal at the end it was so very plausible that Palmer was totally unaware of exactly how close he was to danger and how lucky he was that he found out in time. All in all, the mystery element to this tale was a bit too easy and underdeveloped to really bear the weight of being the key to the entire plot even though the characters were very enjoyable. Rating: 3 stars The Price Of Meat By KJ Charles By far my favorite story, The Price Of Meat by KJ Charles mixed just enough of the macabre with face paced action to produce a story so dark and sinister it gave me the chills. Those familiar with the musical or movie version of Sweeney Todd will delight in this interesting offshoot of the tale that actually has some basis in reality as to locale and the police corruption of the time. But unlike the versions we may be familiar with, author KJ Charles takes us into a horrific place that is off limits to any police authority—and what goes on there is akin to your worst nightmare. When Johanna visits her friend in Fogg’s asylum it is with the intent on discovering a way to free her sweet Arabella. Arabella is an heiress who is to come into her fortune in a few short months and whose relatives have tried everything including “accidents” to end her life so that they can reap her money. While at the asylum, Johanna is asked by another prisoner, Toby, to carry a message concerning the barber, Sawney Reynard of Fleet Street. Toby tells her that Colonel Jeffrey must learn about the man and stop him before it is too late. Seeing a way to strike a bargain and possibly get her sweet Arabella released, Johanna goes to the Colonel with the story. Unfortunately the Colonel has no jurisdiction over Fogg’s asylum and just as little over the place Reynard lives—his shop being right on the border to Alsatia. In fact it is rumored that the back of his shop leads to the gutters and back alleys of the foul Alsatia, that no man land that harbors criminals and murderers but where police have no leave to enter. Rebuffed by the Colonel who instead can only send a sternly worded letter on Arabella’s behalf, Johanna sets out to infiltrate the barbershop and make herself a useful spy for the Colonel. However, plans backfire when Johanna is found out and taken below, into the bowels of a place so foul and unnatural that there is sure to be no rescue for the poor woman but only torture and, if she is lucky, death. This story was an incredible gem—frightening, suspenseful and so very creepy, it kept the reader hopping with its various twists and turns. Right up to the end where a surprise character is revealed who knows quite a bit about the good Colonel and absolutely could have been the basis for another short story all in itself. I would love to see this author expand this short into a full length novel—there is so much to these characters and the area of London they inhabit that begs to be explored further. Suffice it to say that by story’s end, you are thoroughly entrenched in the saga and desperate to read more about these fascinating people. Rating: 5 stars His Mouth Will Taste Of Chernobyl by Steve Berman First off let me say that this is my first encounter with this author’s work but it will not be my last. With a true sense of voice and nicely developed characters who are just this side of strange, Steve Berman takes us into the pledge class of a college fraternity where good old hazing has a definite sadistic twist. One of the pledges, Steve, carries with him his Bailey flask—as he calls it—a magic flask that conforms to whomever drinks from it. In other words if I wanted Grey Goose Vodka and voiced that, when I tipped the flask to drink it would indeed be grey goose and it would never run empty. However an interesting side effect of this charming container is that the drinker than has unbridled lust for the owner, who in this case doesn’t always like what he has done but seems unable to stop himself. You see Steve never really wanted to pledge Zeta Psi but his father, who has mostly contempt for his gay son, would not pay the tuition to Tulane if he chose not to. So, in the end, Steve endures the frat hazing and the tawdry sex with the pledge master, Nobel, and tries not to hate what he senses he has become. But when the flask falls into the hands of another pledge—a guy Steve senses is actually straight and whom he genuinely cares about, the tables turn and things become very real. Now all Steve wants is to turn back time and rid himself of the flask; undo the fatal moment of lust between himself and Carl and at least salvage the friendship they once shared. But it may be too late… Gosh I wish this story had been longer. These were fascinating characters and we just began to scratch the possibilities between them and hear bits and pieces about who they were by the stories end. I wanted to see just what could potentially develop between Carl and Steve and if that darn flask was still holding Steve captive in so many ways. I really enjoyed this one—but needed just a bit more story to satisfy my thirst. Rating: 4.5 stars Legion: A Love Story by Avon Gale Holy Moly, what did I just read? Avon Gale has written perhaps the strangest story in this antho and truly the one that made my skin crawl the most. Essentially, reading Legion: A Love Story was like watching someone devolve into madness—and the entire time you hear yourself muttering, “don’t do it—run away”. Jason Essex is a marine who is assigned to watch what appears to be some type of nonhuman entity in an isolated cell while the normal crew who supervises goes on a two-month vacation. At first, his daily record keeping of time and barometric pressure and the location of said entity is almost mundane. Then the thing…wakes up… By the end of this story, Jason has given it a name, Cain, and the life he knew, the sanity to which he held dear and yes, perhaps, his very soul have all…changed. Hands down this story was the most intense in terms of chipping away at one’s nerves. Avon Gale writes so well—so intensely that you most definitely feel as though you are right there with Jason, keeping watch and slowly losing pieces of your sanity. The creature locked away is perhaps the most inherently evil thing I have ever witnessed on the written page and it makes your skin crawl and yet, like Jason, you are drawn inexorably closer and closer to it and by the end need to see what will happen if Jason does indeed release it to the world. Suffice it to say you will need to read this little horror gem in order to find out for yourself. Rating: 5 stars Beauties by J.A. Rock I love that author J.A. Rock writes what I like to call thinking man novels. She poses questions through her literature that gives one pause—makes one dig deep to answer and always spark the imagination. With her contribution to the anthology we delve into the area of Abs or artificial beings. To call them robots would to minimize their intelligence, their range of emotions and their critical thinking abilities. And when we are finally introduced to Ira, a “beautie” gone wrong we are most definitely aware we have met something not quite human that thinks and feels and, yes, calculates. Lester is an engineer that works with infant Abs. When he is sent to view a new line of Abs that are being engineered for the more violent pleasures such as dubious consent or rape, he is both sickened and fascinated by the way in which they react to stimuli. Then he sees Ira and suddenly Lester knows that Ira is different. Even though he is warned that Ira is violent and unpredictable—not quite right, Lester buys him and brings him home, determined to somehow tame him—modify him into being calmer, more rational, more approachable. From the very beginning it is obvious that Ira is a boiling cauldron of contradictions and something is just not quite right. Before long, Lester is both mesmerized and repelled by Ira and as time goes on and more is revealed about Ira’s true origins, Lester realizes that something is very, very wrong indeed about Ira. As always, this author creates characters with depth and layers—even artificial ones. With each chapter, you find that she peals back another layer in her story and allows a deeper glimpse at the real decay and horror beneath the surface. As you read, you find it easy to place yourself in the role of her characters and when the narrative begins to question the motives of those same characters you find yourself examining your own motivations. It is an imaginative and gifted author who can make you feel that you are a part of her story—that her characters are really microcosms of real people—yourself included. I love this author and this story was just top notch. The fact that it ended horrifically with a nightmarish twist made it all the better. Rating: 5 stars

  17. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie GooglyEyes

    Beauties by J.A. Rock- 4* Well that ending is definitely NOT what I expected! This story is about a group of scientists that create infant artificial beings. They have an "elastic" brain that allows them to grow and shape themselves almost as a human baby brain would. Sometimes they send the brain off to another Dept to be put into a toddler body, so on and so forth. Other brains they take back to dissect to see how it's growing and all the new paths created, etc... The flip to this, the partners Beauties by J.A. Rock- 4* Well that ending is definitely NOT what I expected! This story is about a group of scientists that create infant artificial beings. They have an "elastic" brain that allows them to grow and shape themselves almost as a human baby brain would. Sometimes they send the brain off to another Dept to be put into a toddler body, so on and so forth. Other brains they take back to dissect to see how it's growing and all the new paths created, etc... The flip to this, the partners of the original creation broke off and one started Carnificiality, aimed towards personal pleasure. Mainly they create bots for different sexual experiences. Well, they somehow ended up with a brain that was unlike any they had before. Whether they really knew where it came from, or if it was just information they didn't want to give out is unclear. But Lester can't seem to not be intrigued by this AB while on a tour of this particular lab, that he ends up buying Ian. Ian is kind of a mystery. You can't tell if he's lying, there's things that he says that are very familiar, and there's just something "off" about him. But like Les, you're just as curious and can't stop reading. We learn about this ever elusive "Aaron" and the mystery of the frog fountain. But it's also so much more. There's a LOT packed into this short story. The characters, the world, I all very well written. Once you start you're not going out want to stop. Price of Meat by KJ Charles 3.5* 3.5* This was a nice (I use that term VERY loosely) short story for the season of haunting. A historical work of fiction that is based around Sweeney Todd and Fleet St. Of course this occurs after the cannibalistic​ barber, as there is a play on the name. There are also some added features such as the free, lawless land of Alstasia (thats not so free) and a scientist working on "special" surgeries. The story starts at the Asylum for the Weak Minded which I believe is a front to the Freemen of Alstasia. One brave woman decides she'll do anything to save her beloved who is locked up in the Asylum. She takes the word of a "deranged" boy to the magistrate and from here takes matters into her own hands by going undercover in the peculiar barbershop. No, there's no meat pies sold on the streets like in Sweeney Todd. This particular case is to control the so-called Free men in Alastria. You have the food, you have the power. Either you eat their meat or you risk trying to go back into normal society. It's all very creepy and thrilling. A non-stop read if you can stomach it! Love Me True by Kris Ripper 3* This story could have been really good but the word "like" was so over used it was actually distracting and took away from the story. I had to skip parts to get through all the "likes". It was too unbelievable, I don't think grown men would over phrase that word. Aside from that the story was pretty intriguing. I'm not sure how I would feel if that big of a secret was kept from me, or how I wouldn't have figured it out. I think I'd feel like the world's biggest dumbass. I actually feel really bad for Palmer. He was legit in love and maybe that's what blinded him to everything. Legion by Avon Gale 4" I'm not going to lie, I'm not exactly sure what I just read. All I know is it was a mind fuck and kind of hot in a very morbid way. Thank you, Avon, for making something so wrong feel so right. And also for making me think differently about demons 😂 When you think of the word legion, you think of a large army or vast quantities of something. In this case, I think it means host. Or maybe the many forms Cain can take. Going on this journey in Jason's POV (and not knowing what we're getting into) was very intense. I loved all the emails and recordings and the crazy nightmares, and the "erotic" ones as well. It was super intense. This entire anthology has been one large mind-bender. If that is your thing, then I say "Happy Haunting" and good luck ;)

  18. 4 out of 5

    Amber

    Company by Roan Parrish 3.5 Hearts This story had elements of paranormal, first love, and lust but I think overall what this story was was just plain sad. I mean this was overwhelmingly sad. I’m thinking Nick was incredibly mentally unstable so much so that it had a direct, negative impact on his life and personal relationships. Was Michel real? I don’t know? Was what he had with Nathaniel real? I don’t know. The reader is left with tons of questions at the end of this one. The only conclusion I c Company by Roan Parrish 3.5 Hearts This story had elements of paranormal, first love, and lust but I think overall what this story was was just plain sad. I mean this was overwhelmingly sad. I’m thinking Nick was incredibly mentally unstable so much so that it had a direct, negative impact on his life and personal relationships. Was Michel real? I don’t know? Was what he had with Nathaniel real? I don’t know. The reader is left with tons of questions at the end of this one. The only conclusion I can draw that makes the most sense is that this story was Nick suffered from some sort of mental illness or mood disorder to be able to conjure up Michel and for Michel’s presence to impact his life so much. It was scary in the sense that you never knew when Michel was going to show up or what he was going to do. Heartbreaking story but Roan Parrish is a masterful writer. I loved how Michel gave Nick a backbone at the beginning. This story does go to a dark place though so be prepared. Love Me True by Kris Ripper 4 Hearts This story was intense and crazy and smokin’ HOT! I knew going into this that there was going to be a twist and I’ll admit this author was really good at drawing this out and building up the suspense. I really didn’t want this to turn out how I thought it would. I really wanted the ending to be different. But alas….this was definitely a thriller. Palmer and Jon seemingly have the perfect life. The same interests, hobbies and a smokin’ hot sex life puts their happily ever after within sight. Unfortunately all isn’t what it seems in their happy lives. People have gone missing and a serial killer is on the loose. My favorite thing about this book was the connection that Palmer and Jon have. You can tell its true love. Again this book is riddled with twists and turns leading the reader on an action packed ride towards the end. The Price of Meat by KJ Charles 4 Hearts This was my first F/F romance and I was pleasantly surprised. While there was no sex in this story I really liked the glimpse into Johanna and Arabella’s relationship. Being an historical romance everything they felt was wrapped up tight but you could feel it glowing on the pages during their interactions. Arabella is the heir to a great fortune. Unfortunately her family is money hungry and has her deemed unfit and locked away. Johanna, Arabella’s beloved goes to great lengths to free her from an insane asylum. Agreeing to work for a psychopath barber puts Johanna directly into harm’s way. This was an interesting take on an old story. I appreciated the romance/love elements amongst the gore and pain. This author is an amazing storyteller and had me engrossed within the first few pages. Now I want more… His Mouth Will Taste of Chernobyl by Steve Berman 3 Hearts Now this story was BIZARRE!!! Like crazy bizarre…this one was more magic/spells than scary, in my opinion. I get what the author was going for though. This one focused more on what was causing these people to act the way they did in regards to this mysterious flask. Unfortunately though this one was probably my least favorite of the anthology but the visuals this author conjured up were visceral. The thought of “Noble” in general was nauseating but I liked how the author was so descriptive. Steve just started college and at the demand of his father pledged a fraternity. He doesn’t do this empty handed however. Steve’s father gives him a flask that has been handed down. Steve quickly learns that the flask is more than just a simple flask. This story captures the horrors of hazing and how hard college life is at times. There’s the insinuation of non-con sort of so be warned. There’s also the hope of a romantic relationship at the end which was nice. This was an ok story and good for this anthology just for the bizarre factor alone. Legion: A Love Story by Avon Gale 4.5 Hearts OMG….this was so friggin good!!! I need more, more, more….! I’m pretty new to this author but the way they worked this story was absolutely amazing. I was in suspense and on the edge of my seat throughout the whole story. I loved the build up and I loved every interaction between Cain and Jason. The writing and storytelling were so perfect…my only complaint is the fact that I need more!!! Jason is a Marine who has just been given very top secret, mysterious orders. He quickly finds out that his assignment is a being that is anything but human. At first things go ok but then things start happening….nightmares, sleepless nights, the stress of isolation and he breaks the biggest rule of all. He starts engaging the being. I was left with so many questions after reading this. It’s one of those books that would make an amazing TV show or movie. Scary, thrilling, suspenseful, with a little forbidden passion mixed in. Plus, the ending…ahhh, I need more!!! Beauties by J.A. Rock 4.5 Hearts This was another intense, page turning, thrill ride!! I think of all the stories this was the scariest. Beauties is mostly scary suspense with some really nasty gory elements. I don’t think it’ll come as a surprise that I truly adore JA Rock. This author always captures my attention with every word they right. Beauties is no exception… Beauties is set in a futuristic world where there are walking talking androids that are made. Lester’s job is the work with baby androids. Needless to say Lester is obsessed with artificial intelligence which in turn leads him to a conference where he picks up an android named Ira. Ira is an android but isn’t. He’s smarter, more emotional and carries a lot of human qualities. Ira is also very volatile even with Lester who is always incredibly kind to Ira. Like I mentioned there’s not romance here. This is purely suspense and it is riveting. There are so many twists, turns, secrets, etc….I just kept going because I had to figure out what was going on. This is such a great scary story. Recommend.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Angelique

    All In Fear, I liked this collection of horror story`s. The tales are well written en come al together on the theme of horror. Not your every day spooky,creepy,horror. but more refined,more under the skin. but horror al the same. I especially liked K.J.Charles`s story and the story By Roan Parrish. They were good fun and I would liked a full lenght off both. Arc was given by in exchange for an review All In Fear, I liked this collection of horror story`s. The tales are well written en come al together on the theme of horror. Not your every day spooky,creepy,horror. but more refined,more under the skin. but horror al the same. I especially liked K.J.Charles`s story and the story By Roan Parrish. They were good fun and I would liked a full lenght off both. Arc was given by in exchange for an review

  20. 4 out of 5

    Aldi

    3.5 stars rated up. Most of these were really good, although I would not necessarily have classified them all as horror - there's a wide variety here from serial killer mystery to historical/gothic penny dreadful, some paranormal sci-fi/urban fantasy-ish offerings and some dystopian. I do get that it's kind of hard to find a label that suits them all, though, so I guess "horror" was as close as it got. My favourite by far was K.J. Charles's story, "The Price of Meat," featuring a spunky, capable 3.5 stars rated up. Most of these were really good, although I would not necessarily have classified them all as horror - there's a wide variety here from serial killer mystery to historical/gothic penny dreadful, some paranormal sci-fi/urban fantasy-ish offerings and some dystopian. I do get that it's kind of hard to find a label that suits them all, though, so I guess "horror" was as close as it got. My favourite by far was K.J. Charles's story, "The Price of Meat," featuring a spunky, capable heroine (actually spunky and capable, not the Mary Sue version) in a fun, creepy, fast-paced reinvention of the Sweeney Todd myth set in an alternative version of Victorian London, complete with lesbian AND gay romance (wheee) and a truly delightful, snarky take on the penny dreadful style. Unusually for Charles, it didn't have any smut; on the one hand, I actually really appreciated that since it gave more focus to the story itself and worked better for the pacing; on the other hand, since this is the first time I've read K.J. Charles writing an f/f pairing and they were really lovely, I do feel a bit sad that we missed out on some f/f action while the male pairings ALWAYS get lots, lol. 4.5 stars. "Legion: A Love Story" by Avon Gale, featuring a soldier on a one-man mission to observe a strange entity kept imprisoned in a military enclosure, was also really interesting - I enjoyed the style and the way the author made use of technology-based recordings, internet, journal entries, etc. It was also genuinely creepy and the protagonist was well-drawn and sympathetic. The way his perception of the prisoner slowly changes (while also dealing with more mundane stuff like figuring out how to come out to his best friend via email) was really well developed. I loved the various email exchanges (and the Google search terms, lol) especially. 4 stars. "His Mouth Will Taste of Chernobyl" by Steve Berman was quite a unique take on the monkey's paw and other sinister wish-granting items. The setting (a fraternity during the pledge-hazing phase) was well realised and I liked the style - all the imagery was very evocative. It's aptly titled, as it's the kind of story you can almost taste and smell as you read. 3.5 stars. "Beauties" by J.A. Rock had a bit of a whiff of Westworld/Humans/other AI tales to it, featuring a scientist who purchases a highly realistic but malfunctioning AI/robot originally designed for sex (or for abuse, I should say - like I said, bit of a Westworld thing) to observe and work with him. The story was good if somewhat predictable, but I wasn't sure what to make of the main character, who seemed to oscillate a bit dramatically between sympathetic and really off-putting. It had a few gruesome bits but the psychological elements were much more intense. 3 stars. "Company" by Roan Parrish had some interesting ideas (what if that fictional character you really love suddenly appeared in your real life, and just how long would that be cool before it really fucked up your life) but was a bit handicapped by the choice to go with your staple stalking vampire character, which made the whole thing feel a bit tired (we live in a post-Twilight world - we know immortal bloodsucking controlling stalkers are not boyfriend material). The ending was also something of a let-down. 2.5 stars. "Love Me True" by Kris Ripper was the story I read last and to be honest, the one I liked the least. Partly that's because it was a crime/murder mystery rather than horror, and I just have no interest in that genre. That wasn't all, though. For one thing, the way the characters talked drove me up the wall - I'm sure it was meant to be "real" talk, but all the "like, uh, kinda, like, I mean, uhm, you know, I dunno, uh, like..." dialogue just made the 30+-year-old characters sound like young teenagers, and the main character particularly stupid (on top of his self-established stupidness about what his boyfriend was up to). I also hated all of Palmer's digs at Veronica's status as an ex-prom queen and his constant stereotyping and "funny" come-ons when talking to her. Apart from that, the story had a lot of kink, which, like, uh, you know, is, like, fine (:p), but there was a definite YKINMK element; and finally, I know this is billed as a horror collection but I could really have used a trigger warning for that sex scene that turned into a very graphic rape/murder fantasy. 1.5 stars.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Isabella ~Mikku-chan~

    *~~*ARC kindly provided by the author to me in exchange for an honest review *~~* Sometimes disturbing, sickening but always thrilling. Containing 6 marvelous stories with different themes and kind of styles. All worth a read. Some stories were more mind-play and the fear they created captured you, then other were disturbing in the description and you were horrified. After all the stories were totally different yet all sum one up: they are disturbing. Some of them can be called “classical”, some o *~~*ARC kindly provided by the author to me in exchange for an honest review *~~* Sometimes disturbing, sickening but always thrilling. Containing 6 marvelous stories with different themes and kind of styles. All worth a read. Some stories were more mind-play and the fear they created captured you, then other were disturbing in the description and you were horrified. After all the stories were totally different yet all sum one up: they are disturbing. Some of them can be called “classical”, some of them are really unique. For the hardcore gore/splatter lover this isn’t really an anthology I would recommend, because in parts it’s “too soft”, for horror beginners I would say: grab it, and of course for those who want to read about the authors and want to see a somekind “new site”. A few of the authors were new for me, so I have a good insight, other were known and I will continue reading further books. The whole antholgy though it contains a few weaker stories get 5 out of 5 stars from me. Review originally posted on my blog with added content Mikku-chan / A world full of words

  22. 4 out of 5

    Trader (RedHotBlueReads)

    There was a time in my life when I couldn't get enough of sci-fi/horror stories so when All In Fear became available to review, I was excited to take another trip down the dark side of fiction. I've been loving the queer fiction I've been reading this year too, so it was a perfect match for me. These stories have exactly what I like in a horror story -- writing that will make you feel the tension, suspense and horror as the story builds with some big and little surprises along that way that you m There was a time in my life when I couldn't get enough of sci-fi/horror stories so when All In Fear became available to review, I was excited to take another trip down the dark side of fiction. I've been loving the queer fiction I've been reading this year too, so it was a perfect match for me. These stories have exactly what I like in a horror story -- writing that will make you feel the tension, suspense and horror as the story builds with some big and little surprises along that way that you might have seen coming, but might not. I thought all the authors crafted horror tales for maximum effect. There' a nice variety of sub-genres in this anthology which I loved. From paranormal to artificial intelligence, there's something for everyone in All In Fear. The stories are just the right size for reading in an evening (although you might not want to read them before bedtime! Definitely recommended for horror fans. ARC provided for review.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Lada

    Company was a story about having "evil" Louis de Pointe du Lac as your imaginary friend. Love Me True was the most realistic story that could happen to any of us in RL. Skipped The Price of Meat because historical asylums plus FF are not my cup of tea. Skimmed His Mouth Will Taste of Chernobyl because I didn't like reading story about pledging a fraternity. Legion: A Love Story was such a well-written, captivating horror/love story. So glad that they got their HEA ;) Beauties was a horrifying story. Company was a story about having "evil" Louis de Pointe du Lac as your imaginary friend. Love Me True was the most realistic story that could happen to any of us in RL. Skipped The Price of Meat because historical asylums plus FF are not my cup of tea. Skimmed His Mouth Will Taste of Chernobyl because I didn't like reading story about pledging a fraternity. Legion: A Love Story was such a well-written, captivating horror/love story. So glad that they got their HEA ;) Beauties was a horrifying story. It's really dark and scary. All in all, this anthology is really a collection of horror stories, but with gay/lesbian MCs. My favorite is definitely Avon Gale's Legion: A Love Story.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Alicia

    I don't do horror but I *do* do KJ Charles and Kris Ripper. I couldn't read these just before bed, but in the light of day, none of them were too unsettling for me. And they all go for the unsettling, rather than the gross-out. I don't do horror but I *do* do KJ Charles and Kris Ripper. I couldn't read these just before bed, but in the light of day, none of them were too unsettling for me. And they all go for the unsettling, rather than the gross-out.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Kira

    One of the best short story collections I've ever had the pleasure to read. Every story was excellent. One of the best short story collections I've ever had the pleasure to read. Every story was excellent.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Simon

    Fantastic. Every story chilling, compelling. Some new authors I'm looking forward to reading more of. Fantastic. Every story chilling, compelling. Some new authors I'm looking forward to reading more of.

  27. 5 out of 5

    B.A. Brock

    Review (story blurb–then review): Company by Roan Parrish NICK LEVY’S family is falling apart and he has no friends, but at least he can escape into the world of his favorite comic book series, The Face of the Vampire. Naturally, when the vampire in question shows up one day, Nick is enthralled. After all, what could be better than his own personal fantasy made real? Except that Nick isn’t exactly sure whether Michel is real or not. And when the arrival of a new boy in school promises romance, Nic Review (story blurb–then review): Company by Roan Parrish NICK LEVY’S family is falling apart and he has no friends, but at least he can escape into the world of his favorite comic book series, The Face of the Vampire. Naturally, when the vampire in question shows up one day, Nick is enthralled. After all, what could be better than his own personal fantasy made real? Except that Nick isn’t exactly sure whether Michel is real or not. And when the arrival of a new boy in school promises romance, Nick sees a side of Michel he never could have imagined. This Michel is cruel, jealous… and he’ll do anything to keep Nick for himself. I HATE to pick favorites in anthologies, but this story exceeded my wildest expectations. Wow. It was achingly beautiful and terrible, and everything I wanted in a horror anthology. I literally put the book down immediately after finishing and told everyone I had just read the best queer science fiction horror anthology in my life, and they’d better read it. Considering this is the first story, that’s saying how confident I was in the quality of this anthology. The characters were exceptional. The scenery added to the misery of the protagonist perfectly. The plot was knuckled-whitening good. Probably my favorite part of this story was how the author completely mind-fucked me. By the end of the story I couldn’t tell you what was real and what wasn’t. And I like it like that. Love Me True by Kris Ripper PALMER’S LIFE is as good as it gets. Well, okay, so he hates his mind-numbing office job. But he’s found a hot, smart, incredibly kinky guy. The sex is explosive. The power play is off the hook. And if he gets his way, Jon will soon be his husband. When Palmer asks, Jon says yes. For the first time ever, Palmer thinks things might be really good. Sure, bad things happen in the world—to other people. But this is all he needs: Jon at the end of the day, in their bed, arms around him. How could he have possibly been so stupid? I LOVED this story too. Sure, I kinda saw where this was going, a mile away, but it still entertained me. I think what probably threw me for the biggest loop was how much I identified with Jon’s side of the story. Palmer was clearly the protagonist, but Jon just seemed… so happy with Palmer and their relationship. He was clearly selfish, and they were both not quite right in the head, but I was impressed with how I was sucked in–even knowing what was going to happen–that was the true genius of this piece and I’m afraid to say more because I’d ruin it. The Price of Meat by KJ Charles JOHANNA OAKLEY will do anything to save her beloved Arabella from the cruelty of Mr Fogg’s madhouse—but ‘anything’ turns out to be more than she bargained for when she finds herself working for a man suspected of worse than murder. As Johanna is plunged from the horror of Sawney Reynard’s barber shop into the foul, lawless labyrinth at the heart of London, can she or anyone get out alive? THIS WAS one of the most unsettling pieces in the anthology, for me. Possibly because the practice of locking women away in an institution, to punish them for not being ideal wives for men, was something done not too long ago. ‘Frigidity’ is an idea that makes me shudder with it’s insidious connotations. The gall of those who are given the privilege of power boggles my mind and terrifies me more than fiction ever good. Be wary of this one…. His Mouth Will Taste of Chernobyl by Steve Berman JOINING ZETA Psi isn’t Steve’s dream, it’s his dad’s. Nevertheless his dad’s gift of the mysterious Bailey flask gets Steve an in to the frat house, and maybe his best shot at being accepted on campus. But the flask’s silver sheen may only be lighting his way into the darkness at the heart of the frat—and the darkness he’s learning is within himself. Steve wants to choose who he is, but choices are dropping like flies as he learns the true mystery of the Bailey flask. How does he give back a gift that’s also a curse? THIS WAS another story where I sort of knew where it was headed, but I completely respected how it got me there. There wasn’t anything lovable about Steve, which made him sort of an antihero, and I think the ending was more a try-fail than anything, but it was still poignant, still relevant to this day and age, and still horrifically good. For some odd reason Lord of the Flies came to mind–chilling–and perfect for this anthology. Legion: A Love Story by Avon Gale STAFF SERGEANT JASON ESSEX, YOU HAVE RECEIVED THE FOLLOWING ORDERS FROM THE UNITED STATES MARINE CORPS: REPORT TO: CAIN INSTITUTE [ADDRESS REDACTED] ACTIVE DUTY COMMITMENT: GUARD AN ENTITY CURRENTLY HELD IN AN ENCLOSURE AT THE CAIN INSTITUTE. RECORD DAILY MEASUREMENTS. KEEP ANY AND ALL PERSONS FROM ENTERING OR LEAVING THE FACILITY. ENSURE THE ENTITY REMAINS COMPLETELY INCARCERATED. OBSERVE THE ENTITY WITHOUT ENGAGING. ADDITIONAL INSTRUCTIONS: THIS ASSIGNMENT WILL BE CARRIED OUT IN FULL ISOLATION. PLEASE BE ADVISED. Holy shit I loved this story. And I have to admit, the ending sort of surprised me, thanks to the epilogue. Without the epilogue this would have been an entirely different piece. What really worked for me was the suspense. Holy shit. The entire story (except the epilogue) is told in letters Jason writes to various people: himself, his friends, and to his superiors in the military. It was impressive how effective that method of storytelling was, and I give Gale five glorious stars for that alone. The plot was brilliant. As I said, the epilogue changed the entire message of the story for me. I can’t go into details, obviously, but I urge you to read this story. It was amazing. Holy shit. (I keep saying that, but seriously, read this story.) Beauties by J.A. Rock WHEN DR. Lester Usole attends an event at AI developer Carnificiality, he’s introduced to Beauties: artificial beings designed to provide tailored sexual experiences for their human owners. Lester isn’t interested in sex—but he is fascinated by Ira, a Beauty too violent to be sold. Lester convinces Carnificiality to give Ira to him. Lester has always wanted the chance to work with an adult AI, and around Lester, Ira isn’t violent. He’s strangely innocent, uncannily perceptive, and his company does much to ease Lester’s loneliness. Except something’s not quite right: Ira roams at night, even when Lester’s sure he’s locked Ira’s door. Soon Lester is certain of only one thing: Ira has a secret. Something that will link their pasts and change the course of their future—if Lester is willing to face what’s on the inside. THIS WAS another story where the ending sort of surprised me, and not because it ended up somewhere where I thought it wouldn’t, but more how the epilogue kinda pushed the boundaries of my palate, if you will. Because of how terrifying and horrible the gruesome details were, my brain may have blanked out the ultimate message of the piece, and I’m uncertain I want to take the deep breath necessary to analyze it further… which of course means it was a perfect addition to this anthology. *shivers*

  28. 5 out of 5

    Mitya

    None of these really felt like horror to me, minus maybe Legion somewhat. Company - Nothing about this one was compelling. It was predictable from start to finish, and all the things that might have made it interesting were left vague or completely unexplained. Love Me True - this story seemed more interesting in being erotica than horror. Again, predictable. I was kind of hoping the end at least would take a dark turn, but it didn't The Price of Meat - predictable, nothing particularly stood out. None of these really felt like horror to me, minus maybe Legion somewhat. Company - Nothing about this one was compelling. It was predictable from start to finish, and all the things that might have made it interesting were left vague or completely unexplained. Love Me True - this story seemed more interesting in being erotica than horror. Again, predictable. I was kind of hoping the end at least would take a dark turn, but it didn't The Price of Meat - predictable, nothing particularly stood out. the setting was great, but the rest of the story was meh His Mouth Will Taste of Chernobyl - I hated every single thing about this story Legion - This at least was an engaging read, even if it too was predictable. I think it would have been stronger without the weird, annoying 2nd Person POV epilogue Beauties - the most creative of the bunch, I mostly liked the end, even if the overall message/theme was rather rote.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Ann

    As with many short story collections, I found the whole book a little uneven. One of the stories, while I enjoyed reading it, did not come off as horror at all. I not only saw where the plot was going very early on, but even if I hadn't, it still wasn't scary. I loved the Sweeney Todd retelling, which is no surprise, as I love both the author and Sweeney Todd. Absolutely the scariest story for me was Legion. Super creepy! I think it'd have been even better with the brief epilogue though. I'd have As with many short story collections, I found the whole book a little uneven. One of the stories, while I enjoyed reading it, did not come off as horror at all. I not only saw where the plot was going very early on, but even if I hadn't, it still wasn't scary. I loved the Sweeney Todd retelling, which is no surprise, as I love both the author and Sweeney Todd. Absolutely the scariest story for me was Legion. Super creepy! I think it'd have been even better with the brief epilogue though. I'd have liked it to end with ambiguous laughter. (Which of them is laughing? Is it joyful or malicious and triumphant? We can't know....until the epilogue and then we do.)

  30. 5 out of 5

    ~Katan~

    4.5 stars KJ Charles's participation brought me to this book (her name is a guarantee of a good story, and that stands true in this case too), and it ended up in an encounter with the works of other also very talented authors. Ok, this is a wonderful collection. It's been such a long time since I enjoyed horror this much. In these tales, the theme of loneliness is beautifully entwined with the elements of horror, rendering them at the same time compelling and sad. Honorable mention: Beauties (J.A. R 4.5 stars KJ Charles's participation brought me to this book (her name is a guarantee of a good story, and that stands true in this case too), and it ended up in an encounter with the works of other also very talented authors. Ok, this is a wonderful collection. It's been such a long time since I enjoyed horror this much. In these tales, the theme of loneliness is beautifully entwined with the elements of horror, rendering them at the same time compelling and sad. Honorable mention: Beauties (J.A. Rock), thanks to which the book concluded with an amazing bang of creepiness.

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