Bad Neighborhood is a short story and poetry horror anthology, themed around the idea of “home.” Interestingly, the book came into being as the result of a Kickstarter campaign started by editor Fox Emm. The premise was to fund an extreme horror anthology inspired by the splatterpunk sub-genre. As a depraved gore hound, I’m definitely a fan of splatterpunk. For those who don’t know, I’d describe splatterpunk as extremely violent and limit pushing in both intensity and gore. Sounds fun, right?
I’ll give some highlights and tell you about the stories I enjoyed the most. These are really short stories that pack a punch so I won’t go into much detail or spoil anything. There were 29 poets and authors who contributed to this anthology, so that’s a lot of stories!
The collection starts off with a bang with Hugh Warren’s Intruder, which is fast paced, violent and ends with a nice twist.
Invitation Only by John McGuiggan: Very enjoyable, lots of visceral gore, and some extremely disturbing scenes which I relished. This was the kind of boundary pushing story I was looking for. The horror is extreme and will definitely make you wince. It was a story I was left begging for more of, and I could see it as a novella at least. An interesting character at the heart of it with some fascinating issues.
Home Defense by Mac Jones: A great spin on a home invasion tale with the tables turned. Lashings of gore.
The Kindest Cut by Lori M. Myers: This story is about a very deserving and graphic comeuppance for an abusive husband.
Makin’ Groceries by Kathryn M. Hearst: I’m a bit biased towards authors writing about Louisiana and the bayous, but this was a really fun tale – a nice mix of myth and perversion with a Cajun twist.
A Personal Hell by Donald Jacob Uitlugt: Now this was good splatter; nice succinct body horror grossness.
Drip by Fox Emm: An excellent gruesome haunted/possessed house tale. This would be great as a novella to continue the story.
Home at Last by Richard Ayre: This might be my favorite – a clever refreshing twist on the home theme, a possession story with plentiful blood and guts.
All the stories are based around the theme of home, and many of the authors were able to use it as a jumping off point to create some great stories. So we have stories about home invasion, one of the most common fears, especially given that it’s a real possibility. This makes the horror realistic, adding tension to the reader’s experience. Many of the stories focus on the domestic side of the home and the relationships between husbands and wives. As you might expect, these are generally not healthy relationships, but acts of domestic violence are punished with aplomb. There is also an exploration of the premise that a person’s home is their castle and to what extreme lengths people will go to protect it.
The editor acknowledges that the book didn’t stay as firmly rooted in splatterpunk as intended by the Kickstarter campaign. There is enough gore and violence to satisfy most, but those looking for extremely extreme horror might not find exactly what they are looking for.
All in all it’s a mixed bag. Some of the stories are really short so it’s hard to have a ton of depth to draw you in. The best thing about this anthology is that it’s a great way for readers to discover new authors and then look for more of their works. I’ve certainly found a few names who I’ll be looking to read more from. Following each story there is an “about the author” section, so you can visit their websites and look for other works. The book is very much the sum of its parts and there are enough gems in here to warrant reading it. I’d love to see a follow up anthology based on a different theme.
Words: Andrew Tadman @thebooksofblood