Cobrak's Books of the Dead reviews Castle Heights!!
Hey jerkoffs, Cobrak here to tell you about Castle Heights, a pretty great horror anthology I finished reading a couple days ago. I ended up with an extra copy, so if this sounds like something you'd dig, send me an interesting email HERE (link email@example.com) by midnight on 7/17 and I'll ship it to one random bookworm.
First off, full disclosure. A couple months ago my friend, and fellow AICN contributor, Freddy Beans, sent me a message letting me know he has a short story being published in an upcoming anthology. I ordered a copy and I asked him if he would mind if I wrote a review for the book on the site if I ended up liking it. I ended up liking it a quite a lot. Being the cool guy he is, Fred also sent me a copy, which is why I have an extra to give away.
With the tagline "18 Storeys, 18 Stories," it seemed like a neat concept, with each story taking place on a different floor of the eponymous apartment building. But I didn't realize how interwoven the tales would be. There are several events, like a power outage, a televised boxing match, fireworks going off, and more, that are used to tie the stories together. It was a lot of fun spotting moments and going, "oooh! That happened because of that story." It gives it a real sense of cohesion that I've never seen in an anthology written by multiple authors. I'm really not sure how they pulled it off without all the author's being in constant conversation with each other.
The variety of stories is really refreshing too. I went in expecting 18 ghost stories, and the first story cemented that idea... right up until it's last couple pages hit me with a twist I didn't see coming at all, placing it firmly into a different subgenre.that I happen to love. The further I got in, the more I was delighted to find variety of monsters, madmen, and more.
Since the tales all occur pretty much simultaneously, I began to get a sense of the camera pulling back slowly, revealing a building in utter chaos. From a mad scientist pulling deadly creatures into our dimension on one floor, to a vengeful dickhead of a bird on another. And sixteen other floors filled with things such as nymphomanic vampires, sentient man-eating blobs, cults, demons, time travelers, homicidal germaphobes; even the walls themselves are dangerous on one floor. I began to get a strong Cabin in the Woods vibe, which is a great thing.
This brings me to my only real criticism: I wish there would have been a final story that put a bow atop the whole package. There's a story in the back half, written by one of the editors, that shows the authorities arriving that would have been a great coda had it been slightly expanded and placed last. But I think overall that's a small criticism for such an entertaining read.
I give it 4 out of 5 creepy bellboys.
You can read it free with Kindle unlimited, or pick up the physical or Kindle copy HERE. (Link https://www.amazon.com/dp/B095M4CB6B/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apa_glt_fabc_DP96GQ0TQY5XCX6C9E49 )
Hope everyone is having a great summer! Stay cool!