Title: Graveyard Smash: Women of Horror Anthology Vol. 2
Release date: July 20, 2020
Well, this is embarrassing.
You see, I kinda… accidentally… received this yesterday and kinda… accidentally… read it in one sitting.
This anthology is STACKED. Jam packed with such amazing stories, I couldn’t stop. I initially was just going to read the first two stories of Vol.2 as well as Vol. 1 which Jill kindly sent my way… but that went out the window as soon as I read the opening story ‘Holes’ by R.A. Busby.
What I liked: Look, the TOC listing alone should get you excited to dive into these amazing authors stories. This is a veritable who’s who of Women in Horror and never once do these stories let up. It’ll sound cliched, but there is a story for everyone here.
Typically in an anthology, there are one or two ‘highlights,’ you know, the stories that were the strongest and are often marketed to entice buyers in. Much like a hit single for an album. Stunningly – there are no misses here. Every story was top notch, which really speaks to the level of story telling here.
‘Holes’ by R.A. Busby starts us off. This was an absolute hair-raising story about someones personal phobia and how it completes consumes all aspects of their life.
A few stories after, Sonora Taylor unleashes ‘The Clockmaker.’ Jesus. Wow. Look, I’m a massive fan of Taylor’s writing, but this story showed an entirely new level for her. I’ve praised ‘Weary Bones’ from her ‘Little Paranoias’ collection ever since reading this, but wow, this story was perfect.
‘Love You to Death’ by Yolanda Sfetsos will make you rethink visiting any establishment named Hades, and ‘Cicada Song’ by Michelle Renee Lane will have you second guessing just what is happening in the world when you hear those little critters singing.
‘Templo Mayor’ by V. Castro follows Renee Lane’s and if you’ve ever read any of Castro’s work, you’re in for a treat. I’d love to see V. dive into reworking or creating her own version of Indiana Jones/Lara Croft with the fantastic Mexican stories and myths she dives into so masterfully.
But don’t worry – things don’t slow down at all.
In fact, we get the one-two punch soon after of the stunningly dark ‘The Roll of the Dice’ by Beverley Lee, paired with ‘Rewake’ by Ellie Douglas. You could release that as a double feature and it would fly off the shelves. Absolutely fantastic stories.
The back nine stories of this anthology feature some hidden gems.
‘Graveyard of the Lost’ by Tracy Fahey was really great, a creep fest for sure, and I loved ‘The Snow Woman’ by Susan McCauley.
For me personally, the highlight of the second half was ‘The Invitation’ by Janine Pipe. The set up was swift, the usage of text messages between daughter and mom was bang-on needed for the story and the ending hits you like a ton of bricks. Great story and I’d love to see more of just what that world is.
All in all – this TOC knocks it out of the park
What I didn’t like: I adored this anthology, and even though I’m going through a ‘not wanting to read collections/anthologies’ phase in my head, I couldn’t put this down and have already started on Vol. 1. So, my one note here would be, I wish there wasn’t so many stories. The quality of stories was so strong, that splitting this up wouldn’t hurt either release (at least I don’t think so), which would in turn give some of the later stories in the anthology earlier billing.
Why you should buy it: A) IT’S AMAZING. B) LOOK AT THE FRIGGIN’ TOC?! C) I’m not lying here when I say the majority of these stories could easily find themselves shortlisted for a Stoker and when that happens, I’d still feel sad for the other stories not nominated. This was such a well done grouping of stories that each one worked to elevate the one immediately before and after.
Kudos to Kandisha Press for this release. This is a must read.