That’s how I should start every blog post when it comes to Horrific Tales, because I have not yet read a bad book they have published, and I have read a lot of them!!
So, one can understand my excitement when I heard that they were releasing their first anthology collection! For one, I believe that any self-respecting publisher should have at least one anthology in their catalogue.
So, here we are, Leaders of the Pack, twelve authors that knows how to write werewolves packed into a tantalizing little hardback.
Let’s go through each story:
Leaders of the Pack:
The Dead Brother Situation by Glenn Rolfe: I don’t know about you, but I prefer when they have a short short-story in a same themed anthology, just to wet your appetite and show you what’s what. This is short and sweet! Has all the important features: werewolf, gore and two rapey Hillbillies. Great start to the whole anthology!
Hunters Moon by David Wellington:
A vampire hunter ends up in werewolf territory when she is hunting an especially nasty vampire. With some engaging characters, nasty vampire encounters and interesting creatures from North American folklore, this story packs a punch!
The Original by David Watkins: Why does it feel natural when you combine romans legionaries and werewolves? Talons versus Gladius, Fangs versus Pilum… well, you catch my drift. Lots of legionary on werewolf action, good stuff!
The Kiss of Divna Antonov by Jonathan Janz:
Confession time 1: this is the first thing of writing I have read of Jonathan Janz, which is kind of embarrassing considering I have four of his books sitting on my TBR shelf and a few more to come. Now I feel I need to remedy this, mainly because of his compelling and fascinating writing! In this story alone he has woven a compelling werewolf narrative, with a feminist flavouring to it all!
The Great Storm by T W Piperbrook: Two young siblings try to survive in an apparent werewolf apocalypse, really intense and stressful story, with some added heartbreak sprinkled on top!
The Hunt by Thomas Emson:
Two narratives interwoven here, one is, two useless criminals are robbing a gas station, where the cashier might have more bite than bark. The second is a roman (again) army preparing an attack on a druid encampment. By the end you will get how these two are connected.
Outside of Nowhere by Ray Garton: We all have things that make our blood boil, in my case it is human trafficking, so this story set me a bit more on edge than usual, with some uncomfortable description of sexual abuse. Another story that packs a punch!
Blood Relations by Graeme Reynolds: Confession time 2: As one probably can guess, I am a big fan of Horrific Tales, but I have never read the High Moor trilogy, which were their first release. Well, I shall redeem my shortcomings quickly after reading this! This is some engaging storytelling and fascinating take on the werewolf mythos, here we have werewolves that embrace their lycanthropy and hunt down other werewolves that supress their inner wolf, whom when the full moon comes sits high on the night sky, become wild feral monstrosities whose mind is set on killing.
Hybrid: Bloodlines by Nick Stead: An ancient (roman, again) werewolf that is probably the last of his kind, is looking for a young boy that could be either the salvation or the undoing for all wolfkind, all the while whilst being hunted by werewolf hunters.
Evernight Circle by Matt Serafini: Nothing is scarier than gated suburban communities, add some marriage problems on top of that, well, then it almost comes as a relief when the werewolves appear! Some gnarly transformations in this story!
Lifeline by Paul Kane: Paul Kane is an author I have enjoyed the writings of before many a time! And this story is no exception! With themes of domestic abuse, grooming and rape, this also pulls a punch! When you start reading you wonder if this really is a werewolf story, don’t worry, it is!
Ivan's Night Out by Jeff Strand: And finally, we come to Jeff Strand’s story, a prequel to his Wolf Hunt series (which is brilliant!!!), featuring a nasty piece of work Ivan (from the title…). Whom can be described as being a quite big dick! Not in a nice way either. Whereas werewolves in the other stories are acting on instinct and hunger, Ivan kills because he is just a murderous bastard. Filled with gore and the usual Strand humour (I-should-not-be-laughing-of-this-but-I-will-anyways kind of humour).
So, in conclusion, this is an exhilarating anthology featuring a slate of talented writers! All the stories are varied and unique in their own way, sometimes in anthologies where all the stories share a theme, then they run a risk of being too similar, not in this case!
Fast paced and filled with the violence and gore you would expect from werewolf stories, and quite a few of them packs some punches (how many times did I use this, too many!).
The good thing here is that most of the stories are set in series of already established werewolf stories, so if one of the stories speaks to you more than the others, well, then you are in luck, there is more reading waiting for you!