This hefty anthology starts with a quotation by Neil Gaiman “Have you ever been in love? Horrible, isn’t it?”, which sets the tone for the following twenty stories, collected by editor AR Ward and illustrated by Ashley Van Elswick, apt to demonstrate the many faces of love. Or,to be precise, of twisted love.
Love is a feeling, a passion, which can take horrible routes, from cruelty to madness, from betrayal to murder, from degradation to violence, from stalking to vengeance, from obsession to death.
The various aspects of deviant love have been covered by the following authors: Kelly Piner, Lindz McLeod, Meg Sipos, Ashley Van Elswyk, Paige Johnson, Shannon Scott, Adam Down, Joshua Robinson, Antonia Rachel Ward, Matias Traviezo-Diaz, Caitlin Marceau, Simone leRoux, Cara Mast, Jenna Junior, Emma Kathryn, CM Lowry, Jelena Dunato, Julie Sevens, Andrew Joseph White and Allyson Floyd.
Commenting upon each story is an impossible task, so I will focus on the contributions which seem more accomplished to me. Alhough the book doesn’t include any actual masterpieces, the average quality is good enough and the following stories are, in my opinion, the best ones.
“Fade into You” by Meg Sipos is a body horror tale that investigats the hidden needs in a sex relationship. “Bumped” by Shannon Scott is an offbeat piece featuring a young woman simulating a non-existent pregnancy.
Antonia Rachel Ward contributes “Lilac Wine”, a rather predictable, yet engrossing tale of seduction and tale. Matias Travieso-Diaz provides “Rosalba”, a gentle ghost story about jealousy and murder.
In Emma Kathryn’s “Sister Smoke” we meet another kind of ghost, that of a burned woman, playing a role in the attempt of a girl to find a new kife by getting rid of his former husband.
The best story in the volume is perhaps “The Bloom” by Jenna Junior, the insightful analysis of a woman’s attraction for another woman and her final vengeance for being used but not loved.
I was not familiar with most of the authors featured in this anthology, but I’m going to keep an eye on some of the above names and on their next work.
3 /5 stars