Lullabies For Suffering (Tales Of Addiction Horror): Edited By Mark Matthews
Reviewed by Steve Stred
- Paperback: 258 pages
- Publisher: Wicked Run Press (7 Jan. 2020)
Mark Matthews returns with seven stories to inflict emotional suffering. His previous effort (Gardens of Fiends) has been recommended to me a number of times. It is sitting on my TBR waiting to be read.
I read this collection over the course of a week, reading a new story each night. Matthews opens up with an introduction and within he says that each tale is novella length, allowing for each author to have the space to let their story grow and develop, which is a fantastic thing. Sometimes in packed collections, the stories feel stifled, unable to breathe.
I’m going to do a quick run-through of each story and then finish with some overall thoughts.
‘Sometimes They See Me’ by Kealan Patrick Burke. I enjoyed this story, but parts of it almost felt subdued. As though Kealan took his foot off of the gas pedal a few times instead of ramping things up. This story follows a pair of addicts as they navigate through a specific stage of life. I wished Burke would have gone super horrific in this, but overall, the story had a nice flow to it.
‘Monsters’ by Caroline Kepnes. This story was one of two stories here that I felt didn’t click. We get two POV’s between an older teen and a younger teen. The older teen is a boy and the younger a girl and the boy is asked to babysit out of the blue one evening. There is a lot to unpack here and Kepnes did a fantastic job of unravelling the ‘other’ parts to this story, but I found some of the internal dialogue stuff jumbled the story a bit.
‘Lizard’ by Mark Matthews. Outstanding story with a thoroughly engrossing narrative. I really dug this one. Matthews filled this story with a ton of emotion and as the story played out, I found myself wanting to yell about the decisions made by the main character.
‘The Melting Point of Meat’ by John F.D. Taff. Great story following an individual who is addicted to the euphoria she experiences while in pain. She connects with a researcher and things take a bonkers turn from there, flying into Barker land with some Lovecraftian landscapes. I think I would have enjoyed this story a bit more if it didn’t remind me in places of Taff’s story ‘Just a Phone Call Away’ that was in his last collection, ‘Little Black Spots.’
‘Beyond the Reef’ by Gabino Iglesias. This story was a lot of fun, even if it felt a bit disjointed between the main characters back story and the ‘twist’ that ratcheted this into creature horror. There was a great emotional element to the story that I felt let me connect with it a bit deeper.
‘Love is a Crematorium’ by Mercedes M. Yardley. If you thought this collection was going to end with a whimper instead of a bang – big time wrong. This story starts out innocently enough and then just grows and grows and morphs and morphs and before you know it you are bawling, your heart hurts and then it ends and you’re just crushed. Just a brutal look at young love. My only confusion from this story was at first I thought the characters were older than they actually were, so once that got sorted in my reading brain, things clicked.
Overall, a really devastating mix of stories that deliver a variety of takes on the theme of addiction. It works well that none of the stories really cover any of the same terrain.
KR: To celebrate the release of Lullabies For Suffering you can win 8 signed books featuring Caroline Kepnes, Kealan Patrick Burke, Mercedes M. Yardley, John F.D. Taff, Mark Matthews & Gabino Iglesias.
To enter this stunning competition please check out all the details by clicking the image below
Lullabies For Suffering
Addiction starts like a sweet lullaby sung by a trusted loved one. It washes away the pains of the day and wraps you in the warmness of the womb where nothing hurts and every dream is possible.
Yet soon enough, this warm state of bliss becomes a cold shiver, the ecstasy and dreams become nightmares, yet we can’t stop listening to the lullaby. We crave to hear the siren song as it rips us apart.
A powerful list of talent has woven tales featuring the insidious nature of addiction – damaged humans craving for highs and wholeness but finding something more tragic and horrific on the other side.
You’re invited to listen to these Lullabies for Suffering.
Steve Stred writes dark, bleak horror fiction.
Steve is the author of the novels Invisible & The Stranger, the novellas The Girl Who Hid in the Trees, Wagon Buddy, Yuri and Jane: the 816 Chronicles and two collections of short stories; Frostbitten: 12 Hymns of Misery and Left Hand Path: 13 More Tales of Black Magick, and the dark poetry collection Dim the Sun.
On September 1st, 2019 his second collection of dark poetry and drabbles called The Night Crawls In will arrive. This release was specifically created to help fund the 1st Annual LOHF Writers Grant.
Steve is also a voracious reader, reviewing everything he reads and submitting the majority of his reviews to be featured on Kendall Reviews.
Steve Stred is based in Edmonton, AB, Canada and lives with his wife, his son and their dog OJ.
You can follow Steve on Twitter @stevestred
You can visit Steve’s Official website here