Slice of Paradise - A Beach Vacation Horror Anthology
The first release from Andrew Robert’s Darklit press was a call out to the horror community for submission pieces for vacation Horror, and he was inundated with the responses – over 300 – to the point that the anthology was expanded to two linked books, Slice of Paradise and Beach Bodies, released simultaneously.
There are some familiar Horror community names in here, including, but not limited to: Philip Fracassi, Drew Starling, Denver Grenell, Craig Wallwork, Aiden Merchant, Spencer Hamilton, Nick Kolakowski, Scott J Moses, etc. I say familiar, I use that word in regards to myself, names of the authors whom I have read -but I am the first to acknowledge that I am just at the start of my journey into Indie Horror. My point is that I was drawn to the book due to its lineup, and with Andrew Robert and Ben Long on as editors, well – this feels pretty much like a labor of love.
So how does it read? Very strong. I’ll say that from the outset. Both Mark Towse (Nana) and Drew Starling (The Sentinel) deliver widely different approaches to the theme from the get-go, with their pieces "Secret beach" and "Night dive" respectively. Towse providing dream-like supernatural horror, Sterling a horror legend made flesh, in one the MC’s triumph, in the other it all goes south. That rhythm remains for the rest of the book, and I have to say it’s impressive – I never felt that themes or stories were similar – each Author brought their own style and voice to the table. A real mix-up of stories.
Some of the stories hit home more than the others, that’s true of every anthology, Rowan Hill’s "They eat people, you know?" was great – a nice twist included – I’ll be eagerly awaiting her debut novel released in February from D&T press – “In the arctic sun” – if it is half as good as her short here, it’s going to be fantastic.
Philip Fracassi (Boys in the valley) delivers with “The Guardian”, no spoilers from me because this was horrific, great tension, I didn’t want it to end, and has reminded me to read more from him. I went and bought Beneath a pale sky on the back of this. Job done, Philip.
Spencer Hamilton’s (The Fear) "Out of the shadows, into the sun" provided some great cosmic horror god-type evil, and the storytelling was top shelf. "Zipline", by Nick Kolakowski had some really great body horror, the kind of thing that isn’t gonna buff out in the wash and had me on the edge of my seat.
Highlight of the Anthology, for me, was Craig Wallwork’s disgusting, nasty, horrific Body Horror short “Misery Guts”. I’m not even going to try to explain how awful this situation is. It is nasty, jaw-dropping nasty, involuntary shudder as you read it nasty, and wonderfully sequenced, the storytelling here shining off the page.
Of the seventeen shorts here, only three weren’t my thing. Well written regardless, they just didn’t match me. I have to say that the authors in this anthology brought their A-game to the table, this is getting an unbiased 5 ⭐ ‘s out of 5 and a ton of catching up to do on my behalf. Philip, Spencer, Rowan, Nick, Craig – I have my sights set on you all next month.
Andrew, Ben, you hit this one out of the park. Great opening Anthology, guys. I look forward to the second half. My thanks go out to Andrew Robert for the ARC copy, in exchange for an honest review.
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