I set the bar very high for anthologies. Why? because I’ve read some incredible books over the past 18 months and in these were some incredible short stories. Monsters Exist features a number of writers that I am acquainted with, though I never let this get in the way of me posting my honest opinion.
I much prefer a themed anthology rather than one that merely collects a number of “horror” stories that have little connection with each other. Monsters Exist is about…wait for it….MONSTERS! I like monsters quite a bit, so I was keen to dive into this. Cryptid horror, tales of myth and legend, it’s all good stuff, but where does this book stack up compared to other anthologies I have previously enjoyed? Well, as with a lot of anthologies and short story collections there are always some entries that speak to you more than others, and this is certainly the case with Monsters Exist. I felt a couple of the tales sort of wash over me a little, not necessarily leaving a bad taste in the mouth but more guilty of not being too memorable, more just okay. However, when it’s good, it’s real good and I have chosen to focus on a few of the stories that really worked for me.
The anthology gets off to a solid start with Master Vermin by Wallace Boothill. The Rats by James Herbert is one of my favourite horror books. So, no real surprises as to what the story is about, but I did enjoy it and the ending is particularly good. Theresa Braun’s Goatman tale is also cool but it was Wicked Congregation by Gary Buller that I really enjoyed. Human sacrifice and fairies! A nice story, well-written, creepy and fun. I really enjoyed this one, five stars. It wasn’t what I expected at all, so kudos to Mr Buller. Playing Dead by S. E. Casey is also cool with its dark carny vibe. Eclipse at Wolfcreek is a Mothman story and a pretty damn good one too, and John Palisano’s tale of the Criatura was fun and gory. I really enjoyed Bitten by Christopher Powers. Spiders give most people the creeps, but especially when they are the size of dogs! Very cool, made me itch and the ending was a winner. A standout story for me. My favourite story goes to Leo Robertson with Kelpies. A weird tale about a man enticed into the water by a mysterious, seductive mer-woman thing! Loved it, especially the ending which is top, top draw. Final tale Bloodstream Revolution was interesting with its Chupacabras and a Mexican revolution, another solid story and a nice way to finish things off.
Overall, I really quite enjoyed this. I was able to remember something positive about most of the tales when finished, and this is a good thing with an anthology. A few of the writers are familiar, though I had never read of their work until now, so I’m keen for more, and my attention has been brought towards others featured here as well. A diverse and interesting collection in which none of the stories are bad, but some stuck out more than others.
4/5 boogeymen from the Grim Reader.
Pick up a copy from here.