Is Horror Bites Magazine #6 any good?
Full disclosure, I was provided with a free copy through Tony Evans. But, if you question whether or not that makes me biased, then check this out. My first impression of the cover was that it was difficult to read with text blending into the artwork. Something that could easily be fixed with a few drop shadows added to the text. Easy. For that I’ll dock one star.
Do you consider me biased now?
When I read an anthology, I hope that at least half of the stories are strong enough to hold my attention and entertain. Since this is a horror magazine, I also hope that the stories that hold my attention can at least take me to a dark place, at least for a moment anyway. For me horror is a cleanse for the constant serving of sugar-coated plastic content, the family friendly crap, the good vibes and blinded optimism found on TV, in popular music, and such.
Horror Bites Magazine #6 meets this criteria, and the stories that come to mind are In The Closet by G. H. Finn, Come In by DJ Tyrer, Nowhere to Land by Rick McQuiston, and The Annual Soiree by Tony Evans.
In The Closet tells a story of a writer that tries to get away from distractions to better catch that muse, something most writers can relate to. However, what happens next not so much. Told with a strong presence of foreboding dread, the story leads us to the crux like how good cheese leads a rat to a trap. We know the protagonist shouldn’t explore the nagging curiosities, yet they pester and pester until the voice of reason just gives in.
Interesting fact, I had the chance to publish this story. I don’t recall the anthology that we were working on during that time. I want to say it was Real American Horror, and I felt then that the story wouldn’t fit in. With that said, I’m glad to see that it found a home.
Nowhere to Land messed with me mentally. A very strange and bizarre read that kept me captivated as a widow tries to find her husband in a backyard that is no longer just a backyard. The vivid imagery was so surreal, leaving me breathless and wondering what did I just read.
I’m familiar with some of McQuiston’s work. He was published in the Tome back in the day, and I still enjoy reading one of his subs when they come in. Perhaps, I ought to become more familiar, because from what I know so far this was the most surreal and existential piece of his yet.
Lastly, let me talk about The Annual Soiree. Tony gave me a free copy so I should be as objective as possible, right? The Annual Soiree tells the story of an employee that received an invite to a secretive annual soiree that people speculate leads to better promotions and jobs elsewhere.
As someone who has worked office jobs, the characters are very believable, even the eccentric boss towards the end. The way the gossip and rumor circled around this mysterious party seemed very plausible.
While the plot isn’t new, and the story had a few grammatical errors, the same could be said for some of the others. Regardless, Tony’s willingness to go all out in the end, to deliver the gritty details, made for a good, entertaining, and disturbing story.
Overall, Horror Bites Magazine #6 is a good horror anthology that is totally worth your time and money. I don’t say that lightly.