Book review: Sussex Horror Stories – Anthology

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As I’ve said numerous times at this here blog, I do love a themed anthology and I was instantly drawn towards this particular one as I am a huge fan of small-town horror stories.

I recently devoured Shadows Over Mainstreet vol 2 and absolutely adored it. SOMS expertly delivered on the small-town atmosphere and added some wonderful H. P. Lovecraft influence to go along with it. In doing so, the editors delivered a collection of stories that freaked me out and left me fearful of turning off the lights. There wasn’t a bad tale inside of the entire book. Similarly with the excellent Imposter Syndrome anthology. Again, this collection of stories blew me away in the way the contributors tackled the subject from such different angles.

Sadly, Sussex Horrors fell a little way short of Shadows Over Mainstreet vol 2 and Imposter Syndrome. The anthology wasn’t a disaster by any means, but it didn’t exactly leave me breathless either. Of the stories I really enjoyed, Furzby Holt by Jonathan Broughton had all the right ingredients with its peculiar locals and a man looking for answers in the wrong town and Mark Cassell’s final entry called Away In A Mangler was a bloody story, and a good one to boot. This story told of strange shop owners and someone badly in need of work. I really enjoyed this, it reminded me of House of a 1000 Corpses (the Rob Zombie movie), particularly towards the end.

It’s a case of different strokes for different folks with anthologies. I could’ve done without The Pensioner Pirates of Marine Parade and a couple of the shorter stories were too short for me to remember anything about them. The first couple of stories were solid enough, but angry birds and spiders?! I’ve read similar tales elsewhere and to me, they came across as being a little too safe. I’d love to read more stories about weird locals, cults, and whatever else goes on behind closed doors.

So far, 2018 has been a great year for anthologies and as a result, I set the bar very high. Sussex Horrors was a case of being solid rather than spectacular. With the market for horror anthologies being so flooded and the fact that I’ve come across some excellent books in recent time I just needed more from this one.

3/5 closed amusement arcades from the Grim Reader.

Pick up a copy from here.

 

SUSSEX HORRORS

 

Three Sussex authors … Twelve horror stories.

Take a terrifying journey to a coastline associated with candyfloss and amusement arcades, and see it stripped to the bone.

Whether it’s seagulls that prove to be more than a nuisance, the mysterious inhabitants of a forgotten village, or a fisherman whose Easter eggs are not for consumption, the horrors are always there … and much closer than we care to admit.

 

Stories include:

 

Mark Cassell’s

– The Rebirth

– The Commission

– Demon Alcohol

– Away in a Mangler

 

Jonathan Broughton’s

– The Stealth of Spiders

– You Have One Message

– Furzby Holt

– The Pensioner Pirates of Marine Parade

 

Rayne Hall’s

– Seagulls

– Normal, Considering the Weather

– Scruples

– Double Rainbows

  25 comments for “Book review: Sussex Horror Stories – Anthology

  1. 14 Mar 2018 at 2:33 am

    Ah, so the length of a story of a story is a factor in whether or not its memorable for you? That’s interesting. Perhaps unusual? It would be interesting to know how many readers find longer stories more memorable than shorter ones, how many remember shorter stories better, and for how many the length isn’t a factor. (I’m just pondering hypothetically… your review has planted this question in my mind now and I’m wondering if anyone has done any research on this.)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ralitsa Stoyanova
      22 Mar 2018 at 10:53 pm

      As a copywriter and a writer, I think that every word has its own power and energy and we don’t have to use 100 words when we can say it with 10. So, I really enjoy well-written short stories.

      Liked by 2 people

      • 25 Mar 2018 at 7:36 am

        I like stories of any length, really. But sometimes I’m in the mood for a quick read, and at other times I want to really immerse myself in a story for a long time. I guess the reviewer is consistently an ‘immerse’ type.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. 14 Mar 2018 at 9:05 am

    Small towns already seem creepy, so it does seem like the perfect theme for horror stories lol. Sorry this anthology was a bit disappointing after the other one you read, but solid is still good!

    Liked by 1 person

    • 25 Mar 2018 at 7:38 am

      That’s interesting. So small towns in themselves are creepy to you? Hmm, I wonder how many readers share that feeling. There may be something we writers can do with this. 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

      • 25 Mar 2018 at 12:06 pm

        I mean, they’re not automatically creepy, I guess? But I feel like they easily can be. Maybe it’s the way everyone knows everyone else’s business that’s weird to me. But maybe that’s just me since I grew up in a big city lol.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Vladimir Egalite
    21 Mar 2018 at 8:27 am

    The “Seagulls” story is actually quite intriguing precisely because it’s seagulls. Unexpectable terror obviously inspired by Hitchcock’s movie. It’s interesting how an author can make your skin crawl from…seagulls, don’t you think?

    Liked by 2 people

    • 25 Mar 2018 at 7:40 am

      Actually, the story wasn’t inspired by Hitchcock’s movie. It was inspired by seagulls. 🙂 I was sitting in my flat in St Leonards, and three seagulls came and sat outside the window. They looked at the same time innocently pretty and ferociously greedy. This made me wonder: “What if….?”

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Crina Vasile
    22 Mar 2018 at 2:05 am

    The horror effect of reading Rayne Hall’s “Scruples” is still with me. I like to read only one story a day. In the end I want to quantify which tale have the strongest effect on me.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Shenae
    23 Mar 2018 at 4:19 am

    There are levels to this horror business. Sounds like what it takes to leave you breathless would probably haunt some of us for the rest of our lives lol. I appreciate your perspective though and as you said, “Different strokes for different folks.” Do you think that if you had read it before you read the other horror stories that you would have reviewed it differently?

    Liked by 1 person

    • 23 Mar 2018 at 5:24 am

      I don’t think so. I’ve read hundreds of anthologies over the years. I didn’t mind Sussex Horrors, but compared to what I’ve read this year already, it didn’t quite measure up. I just felt it was a missed opportunity. The authors maybe could have created a whole mythos around the country, but instead chose to put together a collection of horror stories that mentioned the odd building in Sussex. The horror genre is swamped with anthologies, as a reader, I needed something more.

      Like

    • 25 Mar 2018 at 7:42 am

      I think fear is personal, and a reader’s reaction to a horror story depends not just on their literary taste but also on their individual fears. Most of us have ‘triggers’, certain things that really creep us out or send us into panic attacks. Whenever a story touches a trigger, that story will resonate.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. 23 Mar 2018 at 5:03 am

    Interesting review. Will probably still give it a go.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Jonathan Broughton
    23 Mar 2018 at 8:18 pm

    Thanks for reviewing Sussex Horrors, Grim Reader. Interesting point about the length of the stories. One of my favourite shorts, you probably know it, is a flash fiction piece often attributed to Earnest Hemingway. ‘For Sale. Baby Boots. Never Worn.’
    Thanks for hosting 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • 25 Mar 2018 at 7:45 am

      Strong though the six-word baby boots story is, I always wonder if it would not have been even stronger (more absorbing) if fleshed out as a full story, with characters, conflicts, setting etc.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Jonathan Broughton
        27 Mar 2018 at 5:39 am

        I must admit, I love it just as it is. It sets my imagination tingling.

        Like

  8. Aimee
    24 Mar 2018 at 5:55 am

    I enjoy atmospheric horror. Hearing about this anthology has piqued my interest in Sussex. I’d like to learn more about it now.

    Liked by 2 people

    • 25 Mar 2018 at 7:46 am

      If you learn more about Sussex, or visit the region, I hope you won’t be disappointed. The county isn’t full of creepiness. Unless you look for creepiness 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  9. D. Neer
    26 Mar 2018 at 4:04 am

    Thanks for the honest review, Grim Reader, it’s always nice to see such a review from a blogger.
    The anthology still sounds like my kind of read though, so I’ll definitely give it a go!

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Matthew Johnson
    26 Mar 2018 at 6:46 am

    We should always appreciate honesty. Different people – different opinions. I, myself, focus more on the content than the length. Can’t wait to read the stories!

    Liked by 2 people

  11. 26 Mar 2018 at 6:48 am

    As do I, but the content didn’t excite.

    Like

  12. Renny
    5 Apr 2018 at 2:56 am

    I’m not really a fan of small town horror stories, as you aptly stated, different strokes for different folks. Angry shop owners, people looking for jobs, angry birds, not really the kind of story to give one goosebumps.
    Great right up all the same.

    Like

  13. 13 Apr 2018 at 9:17 pm

    Your honest review is a breath if fresh air. It is nice to seethe different opinions of this book.

    Having said that, I still want to read the book and make my own conclusion of the book. I love Rayne Halls writing in general.

    Like

    • 14 Apr 2018 at 6:40 am

      Thanks! It’s certainly not bad, it simply didn’t work for me.

      Like

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