What a great idea for a horror anthology. These eighteen stories, all set in Ohio, weave different aspects of the state into their terrifying narratives. From the cities of Cleveland and Columbus, to an old prison, a drowned town, an abandoned winery, and many other natural and notable locations, these stories place Ohio front and centre on the map of horror landscapes.
As with all anthologies, some stories stood out more than others.
The anthology starts strong with In The Clearing by Megan E. Hart, a creepy tale about a young woman who agrees to be a surrogate for a childless couple, and realizes the deal is too good to be true. With shades of Rosemary’s Baby, I liked how the details of the twisted scenario developed throughout the story.
Those Who Trespass by Tim McWhorter highlights the Ohio theme nicely, set in a real life abandoned winery. Three girls explore the creepy setting and find more than they bargained for. While a solid story, the characters behavior and dialogue made them appear much younger than their twenty-something years.
Randall Drum’s I Dream of Teeth chills to the bone in this superb tale of a serial killer with an original ability. One of my favorite stories, it combines great writing and scary scenes with an exciting idea.
Ohio is once more championed in Someone For Everybody by Marvin Brown. This high concept story has a lot going on, and I think it would have benefited from having more space to breathe. More science fiction or fantasy than horror, it has some interesting ideas I would have liked to see developed further.
Gwendolyn Kiste’s Seven Myths They Tell You About The Town Beneath The Lake haunts with a story of a woman obsessed with a sunken town and it’s denizens. There is something fascinating about sunken towns, but it’s the progression of the protagonist’s life story that makes this one another stand out favorite for me. So much emotion is packed into this deep, moving tale.
Every Good Deed… by Weston Kincade has many elements that I love in a story – dogs, discussion of mental illness, and the difficulties veterans often face. Unfortunately, despite this, I found the story overly sentimental and it failed to land.
Kealan Patrick Burke’s Reclamation fills the reader with dread in this masterclass in atmosphere. I loved everything about this story, from the 55 year old protagonist grieving her Maine Coon, to the ecological theme. Another firm favorite.
A Cure For Living by Rob E. Boley has an original and intriguing concept, which builds to a great resolution, but I would have loved a bit more world building to understand how such a machine as depicted in the story could be used for financial gain.
Garden Of Love Is Green by Tim Waggoner is an entertaining weird fiction piece that I found darkly humorous.
Unfortunately, David L. Day’s take on vampires in The Infernal Gift failed to work for me.
I loved the dark fantasy, mythological aspects to Patricia Lillie’s Wishing You The Best Year Ever, however I think a baseball fan would have got even more out of it.
It Came From The Lake by J. Thorn is an entertaining creature feature that I found darkly funny.
Rami Ungar’s Is Anyone There? is heartbreaking and horrific in an original take on a haunted prison. I loved how the author incorporated himself into the story. This multilayered, meta story packs in both scares and emotion.
Matt Betts’ All Ghosts Are Liars provides an interesting take on ‘careful what you wish for’. I found the depiction of the egocentric, aging actor very entertaining.
I’m not familiar with the Shawnee legend that Steven Saus’ Navigation By Starlight is based on, but I’d love to learn more about it. I admire what the author attempted with this tale, but it didn’t work for me.
Among The Wolves by Ray Pantle is a decent dystopian story that showcases some of Ohio’s beautiful wild spaces.
When Daddy Was All Fixed Up And Everybody Was Happy by Gary A Braunbeck is another story I would love to see expanded into a longer piece. The concept is so interesting, the layers of horror iconography so strong, and the characters so compelling, it was a shame that everything felt a little cramped and rushed. There is so much in this story that I would love to see it developed into a novel.
The anthology closed with Avocation by Lucy A Snyder. A competent piece, told in second person, I found the denouement obvious.
I couldn’t review this anthology without mentioning the wonderful cover by Greg Chapman.
Jess Landry does a great job as editor, and I hope this is merely the first of many books from this promising new publisher.
That Which Cannot Be Undone is a frightening anthology that has ensured if I ever visit Ohio, I will be very afraid.
I award The Which Cannot Be Undone…