People often think of writing as a solitary profession, and it’s true. Making new worlds out of pure imagination is an act that requires time spent quietly conjuring images, motions, smells, and sounds. It’s an art form created out of the miniature trinity of the author’s mind, their fingers, and the page. But even though the work is done alone, writers require other writers. Whether it’s a deep critique of our latest short story or simply the encouragement to keep writing, authors lean on each other for everything from support to inspiration.
The writers behind Howls from Hell: A Horror Anthology understand that need better than most. Birthed in the r/horrorlit subreddit and organized via Discord, the HOWL Society grew from a small group of like-minded fans to the largest online horror book club the world has ever seen. Along the way, the society began to expand beyond simply discussing published books as an increasing amount of horror writers joined their ranks. After months of sharing drafts, critiques, and rewrites, the group realized it was time to publish a collection of their work. The result is Howls from Hell, a collection of sixteen excellent new short horror stories guaranteed to please fans of the macabre.
While some editors center their collections around a theme, Howls from Hell’s strength is in its variety. Each new story sends the reader in a different direction, giving the anthology an exciting aura of discovery. With the flip of the page, readers will find themselves facing down terrors as diverse as the authors that created them. Mobster demons lurk in plain sight in Seattle in “The Pigeon Lied,” while “Gooseberry Bramble” clues a jury in to the terrible truth behind a string of children’s disappearances. Nothing is off limits as Howls from Hell’s protagonists battle against everything from man-eating vixens to therianthropic property owners.
There are too many exemplary titles in Howls from Hell to discuss them all here, but it’s worth highlighting just a few if only to show potential readers the vast array of sub genres this collection contains.
In “Red Punch Buggy,” B.O.B Jenkin takes readers on a wild ride into the absurd when a Good Samaritan discovers his impulse to help someone in need could have deadly implications. Jenkin’s story leaps off the page thanks to their clear character voice and intriguing plot. Simultaneously comical and chilling, short horror fiction fans will be reminded of Brian Evenson’s “The Brotherhood of Mutilation” thanks to Jenkin’s mastery of clever and clear miscommunication.
“It Gets in Your Eyes,” by Joseph Andre Thomas, is an absolute standout that will leave readers writhing in their chairs as Marnie and her boyfriend try to get to the bottom of her recent health issues. We’ve all encountered a doctor who just doesn’t believe us when we say something is wrong, and “It Gets in Your Eyes” takes this idea to its extreme—and bloody—end. This is grade-A medical horror with a twisted touch of the weird.
If Stephen King’s brand of character-meets-evil-object storytelling is your thing, Lindsey Ragsdale’s “A Fistful of Murder” will be right up your alley. No simple explanation can describe the journey this tale takes, but suffice it to say that even an innocuous cash transaction can be lethal when Ragsdale’s behind the wheel.
While the image of the author as a lonely genius behind a desk may never go away, Howls from Hell shows that when writers work together they can accomplish masterful things.
Howls from Hell publishes May 18 and is available for pre-order from most major booksellers.