Epeolatry Book Review: The Horror Collection: Sapphire Edition Edited by Natasha Sinclair


Our reviews may contain affiliate links. If you purchase something through the links in this article we may receive a small commission or referral fee. This happens without any additional cost to you.

Title: The Horror Collection: Sapphire Edition
Author: Natasha Sinclair
Publisher: KJK Publishing
Genre: Horror
Release Date: 14th, December, 2022
Synopsis: The bloodthirsty master of terror, Kevin J. Kennedy, once again brings insatiable horror readers a tremendous variety of original fiction from some of the best in the business.

Thirteen is unlucky for some — KJK Publishing has put together a memorable Horror feast for the mammoth thirteenth book in this series. It’s perhaps our favourite number!

From rising indie talent to authors who have been in the industry for decades. Your appetite is guaranteed a veritable smorgasbord of styles and subgenres to feed the pallet. Join us between the pages of this bestselling horror series for the thirteenth time.

Thirteen is considered to be an unlucky number, and as evident from people’s wariness with the date Friday 13th, it might always be associated as a bad superstition, but not to KJK Publishing, who are celebrating their thirteenth publication of The Horror Collection. They are proud to publish The Sapphire Edition with a range of authors, new and established ones in the horror community with a variety of horror subgenres and styles. I was keen to read such fresh meat during the holidays, especially the short stories about Christmas, and I was not disappointed.


The Sapphire Edition sparkled from the get-go with the immersive story ‘The Oak’ by Steve Stred. ‘The Oak’ tackled the uncomfortable topic of bullying when it becomes extreme, so it was easy for me to empathise and understand why the main character Dan seeks the oak monster to end his anguish. Stred’s well-paced structure took its time to reveal the oak monster and once it did, there was no rush for the thrilling ending. The ending has a fantastic description of the action, almost like I was watching a scene from a movie.


One of my favourites was ‘The Noose’ by Nick Roberts, a cowboy adventure horror with action and a spooky ghost. I love a good haunting, but ‘The Noose’ had me bewitched with its inner tale of morals with crime and redemption. Robert’s cowboy Wade has an interesting personality, and with a fantastic plot twist, Wade becomes almost like a hero. I think cowboy stories are tricky to write especially when adding horror elements, so I tip my hat to Roberts on a job well done.


Another favourite of mine was ‘Enjoy your Show’ by Christina Bergling, a heart-in-my-mouth tense horror in a cinema. Bergling’s character Janelle goes alone to watch a romance film, and is so enraptured with the film, she is unaware of the danger inside the empty cinema. I love the cinema and often go to see a viewing by myself, but after reading ‘Enjoy your Show’, I’m now rethinking it. With a clever use of the five senses, Bergling’s description is spot-on creepy, and even now I shudder at the thought of being trapped inside a cinema, vulnerable, with no escape and no way to call for help.


Two other stories stood out for me and included ‘Anti-Claus’ by Graham Masterton. It was a bizarre Christmas tale with embedded details that set up a fictional past, folklore and setting so well to where it could be real. Masterton structures the tale well with no wasteful scenes or descriptions that lead to a dark ending and a twist that you won’t see coming. Now I may not agree with the twist, as I believe the anti-claus has no light side to him and is quite all-knowing so the twist couldn’t be possible, but for a different side to the anti-claus, Masterton has written a thrilling alternative. Last, the other story that stood out for me was ‘Skin Flick’ by Shaun Hutson due to how nauseating the body horror was. ‘Skin Flick’ starts out with a normal couple’s holiday scenario and Hutson transforms it into a supernatural infected landscape which preys on the unsuspecting sun-obsessed humans. I was unprepared for the transformation and squirmed when it came to deep descriptions about body parts in the sand.


There were some stories, however, that I felt missed the mark such as ‘Cursed’ by R.E. Sargent where the character Danny finds a corpse after digging on a construction site and steals the corpse’s ring. The premise was an interesting concept, but as the ring mesmerised Danny, it was too much like Gollum’s obsession from Lord of the Rings. The structure needed further development too, for example Danny changes his location, running away, but this doesn’t change his fate, so the description of the new setting seems unnecessary. I felt there was a lot more telling than showing in ‘Cursed’ and perhaps it was this that put me off completely.


Another story that I felt had missed the mark was ‘In Search of the Blue-Footed Booby’ by Eric Butler. It seemed to be about three groups of characters who end up in the same location. The first group was a snuff film set, the second were a group of teenagers, and the third were supernatural characters used as a surprise element. At first the plot was good with the teenagers intervening to save the girl on the snuff film set, but when the third group of characters entered, I became lost and confused. The supernatural characters reminded me of The Hobbit and felt like the plot had gone downhill into a type of crazy wonderland.


The Sapphire Edition is full of stories to terrify with no obvious theme connecting them all except for the writers’ enjoyment towards horror itself. Horror has many subgenres, so it is unsurprising that some stories left me bewildered and frowning, but overall The Sapphire Edition was a delight to read with its eeriness, revolting body horror, tension, suspense, supernatural elements and weirdness. I’m glad I read it over the holidays and into the new year. For me, it was the perfect way to relax, relishing in a fictional world where characters had it harder, had to strive to succeed, had to adapt to survive or succumb to the darkness that is threatening their existence. The Sapphire Edition has human nature at the heart of its horror with no compromising on its horrifying, hair-raising, hand-trembling style. It allures even the most experienced horror reader to delve between its pages, but do so carefully.


Available from Amazon.

You may also like...