Title: Gutted: Beautiful Horror Stories
Author(s): Stephanie M. Wytovich, Brain Kirk, Lisa Mannetti, Neil Gaiman, Christopher Coake, Mercedes M. Yardley, Paul Tremblay, Damien Angelica Walters, Richard Thomas, Clive Barker, John F.D Taff, Amanda Gowin, Kevin Lucia, Maria Alexander, Josh Malerman, Ramsey Campbell
Editor: Doug Murano & D. Alexander Ward
Publisher: Crystal Lake Publishing
I’d never really invested my time into anthologies or short stories before. Perhaps I felt hard to connect with characters in such a short space of time; I felt I wouldn’t be engrossed, I wouldn’t be swept away into another universe unlike (most) regular novels. Why would I bother reading something that is going to end in just a few pages?
But then I read Gutted.
“There is beauty all around us, and there is horror all around us. Sometimes, its impossible to tell the difference.” – Forward
These stories really are beautiful… in the most twisted, personal and unthinkable ways possible. Each story and their writer has been specifically hand-picked because of the writing style and the impressions they make on your mind. I love horror as a genre. I mean, subtle horror, the everyday, ordinary horrors that creep up on you and make you shiver because there is an element of reality weaved into them. This anthology certainty delivers.
I won’t pretend to understand why these stories have been placed in a particular order, though the first is written as a poem and perfectly sets the tone for the rest of the book. However, it is the second, written in prose that really made me take notice. ‘Picking Splinters from a Sex Slave’ by Brian kirk, is written from the point of view of a father whose daughter has just been found after years of kidnap. Not only does the writing capture you in the first instance, there is something eerily relevant that it could be happening somewhere right now… as you are reading.
Each story ends in some sort of ghastly revelation which might make your heart stop beating for just a second. I found each one to be an occasion were I curse myself for not being able to write it. I read it on kindle, and what I found thrilling was the interactive story ‘A Haunted House is A Wheel Upon Which Some Are Broken’ by Paul Tremblay. Our protagonist, Fiona goes back to her parents home and follows the ‘ghosts’ of her childhood. Each chapter gives you an option to decide which room you want her to enter in the house.T his one is almost like a children’s story, although in much more adult surroundings.
I’m so happy I found this anthology and it has definitely changed my mind about short stories. I alsolove the illustrations at the start of each chapter which were produced by Luke Spooner, reminding me a little of old fairytales. Here are just a few examples:
Maybe this is the best kind of horror; short, sweet and scarily moving.
“Then she saw their faces, their true faces, with their masks off. Everyone had vampire smiles and glitter-dark eyes, fingers hooked into cruel talons. Hateful and predatory. Monstrous. So sharp and clear, she wondered how she didn’t see it before.” On the Other Side of the Door, Everything Changes – Damien Walters
Cover Art by Caitlin Hackett