I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.by & Cheryl Mullenax (editor), Randy Chandler (editor)
Published by Comet Press on June 1, 2016
Genres: Dark Fiction, Extreme Horror, Fiction, Horror, Occult & Supernatural
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YEAR'S BEST HARDEST HORROR Not your mama's best-of horror annual. This stuff comes from the edge of the abyss, stories you read at your own risk because you feel the abyss looking right back into you through the tainted lens of each twisted tale.
Some of the stories you'll find here are loaded with very graphic descriptions of violence, sex and depravities, while others may contain only one shocking moment of brutality. In others, the hardcore aspect may be less graphic and subtler than you might expect. Some of these quieter tales offer the reader some time to recover from the more disturbing ones preceding.
Most of the stories collected here are from small and specialty press anthologies, with a few from periodicals, like the prestigious Splatterpunk Zine in the UK and Thuglit here in the US. Bizarro is also represented with a couple of tales from the unlikely anthology Blood For You: A Literary Tribute To GG Allin from Weirdpunk Books. (If you're not familiar with the late GG Allin, you can find snippets from some of his outrageous and obscene punk shows online, which will increase your appreciation of those two tales.)
So for now, forget about that neighbor you suspect is a serial killer, don't worry about the drunk driver that could take you out on your next trip to the store, push those troubling news stories to the back of your mind and immerse yourself in the imaginary horrors at hand.
But don't be surprised if you sense something dark staring back at you from between the lines. That is to be expected when you enter these forbidding realms. With any luck, you may find something useful to help you survive the approaching Apocalypse.
I was amazed at the quality and versatility of the stories in the YEAR’S BEST HARDCORE HORROR Volume 1. Editors Randy Chandler, and Cheryl Mullenax compiled 19 tales with varying degrees of gore, mutilation, torture, violence, and sexual torment–bringing them together into one book for the fans of extreme, hardcore horror.
After I had read and rated each story, I was surprised to note that I had given a 5-star rating to seven of them, and a 4.5-star to an additional four! As in any collection, if I can say that I enjoyed at least half of the selections to some degree, I consider it a good purchase. In this book, I can honestly say that there were only two or three that I, personally, didn’t care for. All of the rest, I felt, brought something new and “fresh” to the genre.
While I’m not going to delve into every individual tale–I’ll leave that for other readers to discover for themselves–I will highlight some of my personal favorites.
–“Reborn”, by The Behrg. This one still makes me shudder every time I even think of it!
–“Eleanor”, by Jason Parent. I had read this one previously in the Dead Roses Anthology, and it was no less haunting and emotionally disturbing this time around! The ending will stay with you, indefinitely.
–“Exposed”, by Monica J. O’Rouke. This one is not for the squeamish . . .
–“Awakening”, by Jeff Strand. The dark, morbid humor he injects into his tales always make them a favorite of mine.
–“Worth the Having”, by Michael Paul Gonzalez. A new fiendish approach to the origins of Halloween.
–“Cleanup on Aisle 3”, by Adam Howe. An original concept that had me glued to every page of the story!
–“Where the Sun Don’t Shine”, by Pete Kahle. Nothing could have prepared me for this one . . .
Some other authors whose contributions made me want to look up more by them include Charles Austin Muir, Tony Knighton, George Cotronis, and Kristopher Triana.
All together, I felt that this was most certainly an above-average collection that fans of extreme horror will want to make sure they have a copy of.