What sorts of things go bump in the night? What monstrous things come to feast upon your flesh and bone? Are they real or imagined, and in the end does it really matter?

Jeani Rector and Dean H. Wild bring us an exciting anthology of horror stories, featuring both tried and true masters of the genre and up-and-coming practitioners. The Horror Zine’s Book of Monster Stories brings together more than thirty spine-tingling tales of terror, each of them featuring some monstrous being of myth and modern culture. Writers such as Bentley Little, Tim Waggoner, Terry Grimwood, Brian J. Smith, and even Jeani Rector herself have all crafted wonderful stories that are original to this anthology. And when I say wonderful, I mean exactly that, because these stories will absolutely knock your socks off.


The book opens with a poem by Jeff Oliver, a rising star in the horror community for his dark poetry. “The Monsters That We Fear” sets the tone for what we are about to enjoy, and in so doing seems to craft a ritual for going out into the darker reaches of monster lore. Jeff’s verse rings true, as any good poetry should.

And with that, some highlights from the actual stories themselves:

Bentley Little’s story, “That Summer,” really stood out to me—he didn’t get called the poet laureate of horror for nothing (Stephen King called him that, and the name is plastered on every paperback reissue of every BL novel). A story of a young boy who meets another boy, carrying his “mama” around in a waterlogged sack seems silly on its premise alone, but it’s just the kind of wonky premise that Little can pull off brilliantly. This tale was a personal highlight out of the whole book.

Another highlight would be Tim Waggoner’s tale. “The Man Who Could Talk to Monsters” deals with a different sort of private investigator called a “tulpamancer”, as in someone who investigates tulpas, the strange creatures born out of a guilty, shamed, or fearful person’s memories and traumatic events. These monsters vary in size and appearance, but they all border between reality and the other plane of existence. If the person to whom these creatures are tied to does not deal with the root cause of their trauma, these monsters will consume them. Edgar Manning is this story’s tulpamancer, and he helps a man named Ryan get to the root cause of his tulpa only to find out it has to do with a rival for his wife’s affections many years ago. The ending will twist you up inside, but it will also make you laugh at the cruel dark humor of it.

My third favorite story would have to be “The Scarecrow” by Keiran Meeks. Simply put, if spooky, seemingly lifeless scarecrows show up in your field from out of nowhere, don’t touch them. Don’t let them bite you, lest you become something “other”; something infested; something not quite dead but no longer alive. That carved-out smile of theirs has teeth, and the hay smells like rotted flesh…


This was a fantastic assortment of stories, as the three examples above will illustrate. I dare not give more away, as I want for you to dig in for yourself and see what terrors await you. Something monstrous, it would seem.

The Horror Zine’s Book of Monster Stories is available to purchase in paperback and e-Book formats here.

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