The Final Masquerade anthology starts with a bang with a story about professional killers who take out the terminally ill. It has a great slasher vibe and focuses on the artistry of the kill. Other stories of note include an unexpectedly sexy tree, a very unusual washing machine repairman, and a suicide prevention hotline worker who has a gift for convincing people to do it.
With so many authors there is a huge variety in the stories and styles, from the supernatural to the more mundane. Most of them end in death. There are twenty tales in this collection. All, as the title suggests, are a masquerade in some form – people and things not as they initially appear. Sometimes even the protagonist is not who we would think and expectations are flipped. The authors do some unique things with characters and take some refreshing approaches. One story is even told from the point of view of a dog. Inevitably, when the mask is removed there is darkness beneath the facade in various forms.
The theme of masquerade that ties the collection together is well used throughout. Unfortunately, I found there were more misses than hits in the collection. An anthology is always going to be a mixed bag and depend on the reader as to which they like. While I certainly enjoyed many of them, there were those that didn’t really grab me and draw me in.
Reviewed by Andrew Tadman @thebooksofblood