Thursday, October 6, 2016

Book Review: Nightmares Unhinged edited by Joshua Viola

Let me make one thing very clear: I’m not a horror kind of person. I’m the girl who jumps at the slightest noise and cried the first time Giles accidentally snuck up on me in our new house. For some crazy reason, Giles and I started binge watching Supernatural on Netflix about a month ago, and for some crazier reason, I really got sucked into it. Then, Giles brought home a copy of Nightmares Unhinged, a horror anthology. It sat on our table for a few days, staring at me. (Literally. It has a creepy skull on the cover!) I decided to be brave and I read the first story. In broad daylight, under a fuzzy blanket, with a cup of tea, and the cat on my lap. After the first story, I couldn’t...stop...reading...

Nightmares Unhinged is a collection of twenty short horror stories that run anywhere from slightly creepy to downright gruesome. There were stories that were funny (that was a happy surprise), twisty (uh...what just happened?!), and even one that took place on another planet. Those of you who listen to the Beyond the Trope podcast will recognize a few of the contributing authors: Aaron Michael Ritchey, Warren Hammond, and the editor, Joshua Viola (coming soon!). I can’t believe I’m going to say this, but I really liked these stories!

I loved the variety of stories that Viola pulled together. The first story was a classic monster tale, the second, a story that left me laughing, and the third could have been another story in the life of the narrator from Edgar Allan Poe’s The Raven. From there, I read stories that could have come straight from a summer horror flick, one about a seriously sketchy librarian, and another that made me physically sick to my stomach. If that isn’t enough variety, I don’t know what would be.

In the same vein, I liked that each story wasn’t dripping in gore, nor were they too much alike. In the forward and introduction of the anthology, Steve Alten and Joshua Viola made it clear that the anthology was a collection of stories that would give someone a nightmare at some point. I think they accomplished their goal. For example, there was one story I just simply didn’t get, but I’m sure it would creep the heck out of someone else. And the story Needles by Viola and Dean Wyant would have given me nightmares, if I hadn’t shut the book and read a few fairy tales before I turned out the light. Seriously guys...*shudder*

Finally, I enjoyed reading stories by friends of ours that were different from their other works. Aaron Michael Ritchey’s story Deep Woods left me seriously disturbed, and Warren Hammond’s Delicioso was so different from anything I’ve read of his, it made me wonder what dark, nasty little corner of his brain that one came from.

Before I read Nightmares Unhinged, the only other horror story I had read was Stephen King’s The Shining. And that was only because I “had” to when my friends in high school discovered my dad’s name is also Steven King. For a horror novice, this was a great reintroduction to the horror genre. Well done, ladies and gentlemen. I’m looking forward to the next one. 

Emily is kind of happy that she can put this book on the shelf so the skull on the cover will stop staring at her. She’s looking forward to Hex Publishers’ new anthology, CyberWorld, which is due out on November 10, 2016. Emily’s going to go read something happy now. 

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