Epeolatry Book Review: Third Corona Book of Horror Stories


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Title: The Third Corona Book of Horror Stories
Author: Various, ed. Lewis Williams
Genre: Horror
Publisher: Corona Books UK
Release Date: 1st October, 2019

Synopsis: In response to our worldwide call, we received a total of 824 horror short story submissions for this book – adding up to a staggering total of over three million words. But we read them all, selecting only the best of the best stories to include in this book. That is why when we say this book is something special, we mean it and that when we say it contains the best in new horror short stories, that is no hyperbole. We love horror, and the stories included in this book prove that it’s a genre where great imagination and great writing are more than possible. From the opening story ‘Suds and Monsters’, which might put you off washing dishes for good, to the closing story ‘Scythe’, which brings the proceedings to a short sharp close, each contribution will bring new horrors to unsettle you. We can guarantee you will find brilliant new horror writing here, but what you won’t find is a collection full of those who have star names (yet). We’re proud to include here both a story from at least one author who has sold books in the millions and a story from at least one author whose work has never been published before. We’ve simply included the very, very best of the stories, without fear or favour, to bring you the very best modern horror anthology possible.

Corona Publishing is in their own words, a ‘UK-based independent publishers of the brilliant, innovative and quirky.’

I attended the UK Ghost Story Festival in Derby and met the two people behind Corona—Lewis Williams and Sue Eaton.  We sat for an interview which has appeared on the Horror Tree site https://horrortree.com/guest-post-uk-ghost-story-festival/.

Since I’d already been aware of Corona Books, I made a mental note to read their latest anthology collection, The Third Corona Book of Horror Stories (224 pages).

Corona received an overwhelming number of submissions—824—for this anthology. One submission was from me; my story received an ‘honourable mention’.

19 dark tales have been gathered from both sides of the Atlantic. Experienced writers and at least one début author are included in this collection. So, there is a mix of US and Brit-style dialogue and slang.

A variety of horrors await the reader. The anthology is well edited and put together; I was impressed by the quality.

The opening story ‘Suds and Monsters’ by Christopher Stanley proved to be a strong start. You’ll never view doing the washing the same way again! Horrific. 

Tricia Lowther’s, ‘The Haunting of April’, also grabbed my attention. 

‘Heights’, apart from being well written with a climbing scale of spooky haunting, stars a dog. And I am rather fond of dogs. 

Jo Gilmour’s, ‘Angel’, is visceral. It tugs at your guts and heart right from the ominous opening line, ‘Daddy always wanted a boy.’ Which set my alarm bells ringing. 

A shout out to Jess Doyle’s, ‘Luna Too’, for originality and a twist I didn’t see coming. 

Probably my favourite story is, ‘Lily’s Kids’, by Florence Ann Marlowe. Marlowe’s tale leapt off the page and remained in my memory afterwards. Set in a small American town in the Depression era, and told mainly from a teenage boy’s point of view (Jimmy). It describes his and his younger sister’s fatal meeting with three children who are ‘raggedy scarecrows’—the titular Lily’s Kids. Marlowe builds the tension and allows readers to work out what’s going on by dropping hints, and yet holding back till the final skin-crawling reveal. Marlowe is a writer from whom I would like more stories to read.

There are no weak links in this anthology. All the stories pull their weight. Yes, there are stories I didn’t enjoy as much, but that I believe that goes to a reader’s personal taste. I did feel like a couple narratives finished a little early for me, and I would have liked more details from others.

Don’t miss out on the series of useful and interesting author biographies at the rear.

Overall a strong, entertaining anthology.

4/5 stars

Available on Amazon.

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