Best Collections 2021

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I’m a huge fan of the short story, and I try to read as many as I can each year, this year has been another great journey into this world. I also find that short story collections (single-authored ones) are also a great way to discover new talent, a way to test drive a creative voice before pulling the trigger and buying one of their longer works, so trust me, these have all been test-driven and I recommend them all!

1. I Spit Myself Out

Tracy Fahey

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I Spit Myself Out needs to be on everyone’s reading list, although it deals with many issues around womanhood it never alienates the male reader. These are topics that men should be reading, digesting and exposing themselves to, it’s urgent reading and I couldn’t praise it highly enough!

‘Fahey delivers the most beguiling collection in years – a devastating glimpse into the horrors of the body, mind and soul!’

2. The Gulp

Alan Baxter

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An arrestingly brilliant collection of horror that bewitches its reader and pollutes the mind with Baxter’s mastery of horror in all its dark shades, whatever you do this year, makes sure you take a trip to The Gulp!

3. Goblin

Josh Malerman

Goblin by Josh Malerman

A masterclass in atmospheric and small town horror – welcome to Goblin.

I love the use of the elements to elicit a reaction from my readers, Juniper was scorching heat, Tome was constant rain, my third book in my Juniper series will have plenty of… you’ll have to wait and see! The elements is an underused tool in my opinion, one that should be used more in fiction, it helps create the tone for a book and that’s what Malerman does here. He sets the tone.

Damn he sets it well.

4. The Strange Thing We Become and Other Dark Tales

Eric LaRocca

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Eric LaRocca is the dark prince of the horror genre, a unique, brave and masterful writer who unsettles the reader time and time again with his imagination and then comforts us with his beautifully crafted prose!

5. The Razorblades In My Head

Donnie Goodman

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I’m excited and desperate to see what Donnie does next and hope it’s something bigger – a novella or a novel, something I can really sink my teeth into and devour!

Also – damn that cover is amazing! Cover of the year contender if that’s a thing or not – it should be!

6. Faces Beyond The Veil

Mitch Sebourn

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Mitch Sebourn shows once again with the stories in ‘Faces Beyond The Veil’ that he is a breath of fresh air in the indie horror scene. Most if not all of these stories find their mark and offer a perfect tasting board for those looking for a new writer – in this collection we get to glimpse the many facets of Sebourn’s writing, and all of them point to his brilliance at storytelling.

7. Paths Best Left Untrodden

Kev Harrison

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Kev is a brilliant raconteur and the king of slow-burn horror and anything folklore – this collection of stories complies many of his previously published stories and others too into a nightmarish vision where each story sets you in a state of unease and leaves you open to the twisted drippings of his mind. I bloody loved it.

8. Sinister Mix

Brian Bowyer

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Barbaric, brutal, twisting and turning oh and a typewriter! This one is bananas crazy, but I enjoyed it, the way that out two protagonists are so desensitised to what their lives have become is almost comical and Bowyer delivers some cracking lines in the face of such butchery. A fitting way to end this most brutal of collections.

9. Anoka

Shane Hawk

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Anoka is a fabulous little collection of Indigenous Horror and one that I really enjoyed, I loved his ability to bring myth and lore that I was unaware of to his stories. The use of flash fiction and short stories works well in giving the reader time to absorb Hawk’s hard-hitting prose – the hype is real and I look forward to reading more from Hawk in the future.

10. Twisted: Tainted Tales

Janine Pipe

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Janine Pipe bring us her debut collection of stories, a writer who I first came to discover in a few anthologies has now collated many of her previously published stories into on fun horror filled debut collection. A solid collection that shows above all Janine Pipe’s range and love of all things horror, a collection in my opinion should provide one thing and that is variety and variety that makes me want to pick up more work by that author and this does exactly that!

11. Spontaneous Human Combustion

Richard Thomas

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‘Transgressive, dark and masterfully written – with ‘Spontaneous Human Combustion’ Thomas forces the reader to run the gamut of human emotions. With beguiling and devastating prose one can’t help but see the beauty in the macabre morsels Thomas has given us to consume. A truly breathtaking collection.’

12. Someone To Share My Nightmares

Sonora Taylor

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Whether it is short fiction or longer works Sonora Taylor’s name is synonymous with nightmares and disturbing fiction. I’m a huge fan of Taylor’s work and when the opportunity arose to get an ARC of her latest collection ‘Someone to Share My Nightmares’ I enjoyed being able to peek behind the curtain, I stood there quivering as my hand held back the curtain, my knuckles turning white as I gazed upon the new nightmares she’s committed to the page and as I read the beauty of her new horrific tales.

This is an interesting collection that showcases yet again that Taylor is a master of the macabre and her short work is nightmare inducing and soul shredding brilliance – oh and she can write some erotica too, writes it so well it’ll make you blush.

Reviewed by Ross Jeffery

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