Year’s Best Hardcore Horror Vol 1
I listened to the audio of this book and thought that Joe Hempel was a fantastic narrator. I did find a few editing mistakes and not all the stories were for me, for that I knocked off half a star. On the whole this was a very good collection.
The stories in order were:
"Worth the having" by Michael Paul Gonzalez - A somewhat stomach churning look at what happens when you get everything you wish for and the price you have to pay. This one had me cringing at the details in some parts, a great start to the collection.
"Awakening" by Jeff Strand - Hilarious story where a psychopath realises he's a serial killer. I love strand's style and this one didn't disappoint.
"Readings off the charts" by Adam Cesare - Paranormal investigators rope in an unsuspecting amateur as they try and collect data. This was a bit predictable and I realised what the ending would be about half way through. This didn't spoil my enjoyment of it.
"Reborn" by The Behrg - A story of why churches no longer take in abandoned babies. This one was pretty brutal and had the added bonus of making you question the narrator.
"What's worst" by David James Keaton - Jason sees a dead baby on the road and decides to take it for a drive in his car. Very trippy read that has you seriously questioning the moral compass of the narrator. It didn't do much for me except make me angry. This story will seriously test some readers boundaries.
"Dead end" by Kristopher Triana - A serial killer notes something very familiar with the hitchhiker he picks up. A nice twist in the end with this story.
"What you wish for" by Lillith Morgan - Two people live out their fantasies, consequence free. Only one of them hasn't bargained on being attracted to a fledgling killer. Some romance and sex mixed in with the gore for this story, I enjoyed the writing but thought it could have been edited better to condense the story a bit more.
"King Shits" by Charles Austin Muir - A trucker dishes out brutal justice to bullies. Very violent and highly enjoyable.
"Cleanup On Aisle 3" by Adam Howe - What should have been a quick robbery turns into a cat and mouse game as the storekeeper turns the tables. Great story with a satisfying ending, it was also a lot more emotional than I was expecting.
"Bath Salt Fetus" by George Palacious - Maria is pregnant and wants to get rid of her baby, to do this she tries a new drug which has interesting side effects. Wrong, just very, very wrong.
"Bored With Brutality" by MP Johnson - Rocker GG Allen decides to live a normal life. This was one of the weaker stories for me and didn't really hold my interest.
"Exposed" by Monica J. O'Rourke - A mother is desperate to find her child and decides to take the law into her own hands. How far will she go to find out the truth. Some eye watering detail in this story which ends with a great twist.
"Eleanor" by Jason Parent - Father Stuart takes in disfigured baby Eleanor after she is abandoned on the steps of the church. As she becomes a teenager their relationship becomes more intense and confusing to them both. A slow burn story with a heartbreaking ending.
"The Scavengers" by Tony Knighton - Brutal story of 2 ivory poachers who will do anything to get a bigger share of the deal. Things do not go to plan. Great story, I love karma.
"The Most Important Miracle" by Scott Emerson - All hail the God of Breakfast. A diner cook turns psychotic and decides to cook a breakfast to remember. Short and not at all sweet but very enjoyable.
"Hungry For Control" by Clare de Lune - A woman who was in a mutually abusive relationship before the zombie plague, sees a chance to get some revenge. I really enjoyed the story even though I thought the MC wasn't very likeable and was just as sexually abusive as her ex.
"Clarissa" by Robert Essig & Jack Bantry - Pregnant Clarissa plots to escape the basement where she's been kept for years under the guard of her rapist. All is not as it seems as her chance arrives. Depressing and disturbing especially when you think of some of the real life equivalents.
"Where The Sun Don't Shine" by Pete Kahle - Gordy wakes up after being on a trip for 4 days but can't remember anything about the trip and is exhibiting strange behaviour. This starts of with Gordy waking up covered in blood, mud and vomit and then alternates between the actual trip and the continuing aftermath. Creature feature that was great fun to read.
"Blackbird Lullaby" by George Cotronis - Romance blossoms in a support group for people whose demons are literally killing them. A nice end to the collection although perhaps a little too short to get much out of it.