Ten Kinds of Trouble

Written by Ian Ashe

Peel: A collection of ten thriller stories. 

This collection was a mixed bag with individual story ratings ranging from three to nine out of ten. Many of the stories had gun violence, which began to feel formulaic after a few stories. Other types of violence are in fact represented, but the amount of guns pulled out was a heavy majority. All of the stories were highly suspenseful, and quickly pushed you through them. The stories were rather quick to read at around twelve pages. My favorite story was “After Everything Else”, mainly because of its open ending.

On the other hand, most of the stories were just gore with minimal plot and characters which resulted in the stories not being as effective or shocking when read together.

Nibble: “Killing people was his specialty, the thing he was known for, the reason he got out of bed every morning.”

I would recommend this to anyone who wants to read some gory thriller stories.

My Rating: 5 out of 10 shot and sliced apples

I received a free electronic copy of this book from the author via LibraryThing.

Ian Ashe’s Site

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Bloody Chester

Written by J.T. Petty, Illustrated by Hilary Florido & Colored by Hilary Sycamore

Peel: In this graphic novel, Chester’s hired to burn down an empty town with a superstitious backstory. 

The plot line moves quickly following Chester, or Lady Kate, on an adventure in the old, unromanticized, west. This is certainly a different take on the cowboys versus indians trope. The plot alone was very gripping and there’s an unexpected twist towards the end. Though none of the characters are particularly reliable or likable, they’re all very interesting to watch interact. Chester is especially interesting, as I found myself rooting for him even after he made bad decision after bad decision.

This was labeled for ages fourteen and up, which seems pretty low for the amount of violence, adult implications, ethnic slurs and swears. The art unfortunately wasn’t that great, and didn’t enrich the story at all. There may be different lettering in the final copy, but the one I received was typed rather than handwritten and in all capital letters. This is one of the few graphic novels I’ve read that would have been better as just a novel.

Nibble: “Only been here a month, but I’ve seen you take more beatings than a whore’s bed.”

I would recommend this to anyone who wants to read a gripping creepy tale, and doesn’t mind disliking the protagonist.

My Rating: 4 out of 10 dusty golden apples

I received an advanced free copy of this book from the publishers, First Second,via NetGalley.

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Devil’s Creek

Written by Paul Maitrejean

Peel: Erica’s car is slowly breaking down, and the only nearby place is a tiny town, Devil’s Creek. Once Erica arrives she finds out that there’s a local legend of the Angel of Death visiting every seventy years, and tonight he is said to visit.

Though the story starts off rather typically, around the middle it begins to veer off course and the ending is a lovely little twist that made the read worth it. The twist itself was perfect, though it had been hinted at and makes sense, it’s not the twist you expect. This is a very quick read, and is around twenty pages. The language throughout the story was simple, and the plot line pushed you to the end.

I would have liked to know a bit more about the protagonist, I didn’t care much if she was in danger. Unfortunately most of the value in this story was the twist, so it doesn’t have much rereading value.

Nibble: “Her return trip from researching the logging industry in northern Wisconsin had gone well up until ten miles back, when her Taurus started running funny and finally died on her.”

I would recommend this as a clever entertaining thriller.

My Rating: 6 out of 10 devilish red apples

I received a free electronic copy of this story from the author.

Paul Maitrejean’s Site

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The Trees: A Collection

By Todd Brabander

This is a collection of five quick stories- three shorts and two flashes. The stories were all easy to read, though a bit jumpy. All of the stories were very different from one another, fit a good amount of plot in their pages, and a few of them had surprising twists at the end. They each had unique bits of absurdity and horror in them. Sheltered was by far my favorite story of the collection, and the choppiness worked well for this story. The Trees in particular gave a vivid feel of forests in the Pacific Northwest. Unfortunately two of the stories, Laroche and The Trees, had predictable endings that took away from their building momentum. As a warning there is a touch of gore.

I would recommend these stories as a fun Sunday night read.

Nibble: “The robot felt something small give way under his foot.”

My Rating: 6 out of 10 fiery cursed apples

I received a free electronic copy of this book from the author via LibraryThing.

Night at the Demontorium

By Naima Haviland

This is a collection of five short horror stories with a touch of the supernatural. They all have strong introductions, and rather vivid imagery. The first piece is on addiction and has a rather interesting view on it. The collection is certainly not for the squeamish as there is quite a bit of gore. I found the last two stories, The Entrepreneur and Bedring were by far the strongest pieces.

The stories all read fairly easily and quickly, though I doubt they would hold up to multiple readings. The endings tended to rely on twists that were only interesting on a shallow level, with an exception of the Bedring. Bedring not only makes you question what a life is worth, but it also combined horror with suburbia most naturally.

I would recommend this to someone as a few quick and curious horror stories.

Nibble: “Before starting, she’d put duct tape over her mouth so her screaming wouldn’t bother the neighbors.”

My Rating: 5 out of 10 gory red apples

I received a free electronic copy of this book from the author via LibraryThing.

Small Magic

By Aaron Polson

I am going to start this review off by saying how awesome flash fiction is, especially in a collection. It’s like a bag of sea salt and pepper chips, you really want to enjoy them individually and let the flavor seep in your mouth… but you’re a pig and devour the whole bag one afternoon.

That’s basically what reading Small Magic was to me- a wicked bag of chips. It’s a collection of a little over seventy quick pieces. All the chapters were interesting, and surprising in some way. My favorites tended to have a subtle layer of horror just peeking out through a dim window. There were also quite a few chapters with interesting ideas on relations and society. Most chapters are horror stories, mixed into that there’s some of magical realism, romance, crime, humor, fantasy and science fiction.

As a warning, there is quite a bit of gore- beautifully written though- that may be a little too much for those of delicate mind. He produces some really image-evoking dark connections, like watering a groove of trees with blood.

I would recommend this to anyone for some intense Halloween short stories.

My favorite stories: Inheritance, Communion, Blue Collar Boys, Man Bites Man, The Date, Crenshaw’s Gift

I was also pleasantly surprised to see an amusing metafiction story about writing horror stories. A nibble from that, “No one likes to bleed in dark crimson rivulets of scarlet gore, and they will feel sympathy for Bob.”

My Rating: 9 out of 10 bloody scarlet apples

I received a free electronic copy of this book from the author via LibraryThing.