Malicious Deviance
Edited by Robert Essig

Library of the Living Dead
E-book, 356 pages
Review by Darkeva

Table of Contents

1. Taking out the Trash by Philip Roberts
2. Red Turns to Green by Del James
3. Love Refinished by Jeff Kozzi
4. Bad for Business by Michelle D. Sonnier
5. Shotgun Shelter by Jason Sizemore
6. Better than God by Lancer Kind
7. Margery’s Alternative Therapies by Tammi Pratt
8. Gossip Hounds of Sherry Town by James A. Sabata
9. Punishment by Travis Heermann
10. They Pissed on My Sofa by David A. Riley
11. Killing Klaas by Aaron Legler
12. Stalin’s Coal Mine by Richard Marsden
13. Six Cases of Beaujolais by John C. Caruso
14. Death and Decay by Natalie L. Sin
15. The Howling of the Wolves by Eric Pinder
16. Urination and Degradation by Keith Gouveia
17. A Wife from Hell by Uri Grey
18. Sea Glass by Jacob A. Boyd
19. Pied Piper by Robert Walford
20. Rats and Rednecks by Rob Rosen
21. El Dentisto que Corta by Mike Norris
22. Goodnight, Francine by Stacy Longo
23. Nil by Barry Rosenberg
24. Mr. Banjo by Tonia Brown
25. The Nasty Club by Jeffery Scott Sims

Robert Essig has collected 25 of the most blood curdling, unique horror tales in this anthology featuring some serious horror talents.

In the first story, “Taking out the Trash” by Philip Roberts, a dumpster can make things disappear, specifically bodies. A landlord starts stuffing his victims, tenants who don’t pay on time, in the trash. I thought this was a great concept and that it worked well. He eventually gets a “Telltale Heart” type symptom and hears wailing from within the trash. But there’s a monster in the shed; although I would have liked the story to be more drawn out and suspenseful with the monster, the ending is satisfying.

The second story, “Red Turns to Green,” has a terrific first line – “I love to bleed.” It’s instantly engaging and makes you want to read on. The title, of course, means that he makes money (green) when he bleeds (red). This is the tale of a wrestler set in the past from what I could tell (there are references to long-since retired wrestlers like Dusty Rhodes), and it has a great, blunt writing style, which perfectly fit this story. “Red Turns to Green” displays the brutal side of wrestling; Chase Loveless, the main character, takes us on a journey that chronicles his experiences in the wrestling world, and introduces us to his protégée, Eugene. When these two eventually spar, the story hits its high peak.

Best Story: “Bad for Business.” The Tooth Fairy is real. She eats teeth, and there’s more than one of her. This delightfully morbid story continues to reveal that a dentist’s grandfather kept a diary. Turns out good ol’ grandpa ate children’s teeth for energy. Then, inevitably, the grandson dentist succumbs to the same curse. But The Tooth Fairy is hungry, and the dentist, Roberto, is cruel. He deserves what he gets in the end. And believe me when I say that the fairies get sickening revenge.

“Margery’s Alternative Therapies” was another standout story for me. In it, an elderly woman, Margery, refuses to let her husband get the lap band surgery he needs after he’s had a heart attack, all because she doesn’t want him to eat hospital food, and to eat only her own cooking. But she doesn’t want him to eat any more food, either, because he’s fat. So she decides to take matters into her own hands, and the results are fascinating but disturbing.

On the popular children’s cartoon show, Arthur, which follows the exploits of a young mouse named Arthur and his family, his little sister, D.W., is the stereotypical annoying brat. On one episode, she dresses exactly like him and tries to imitate everything he does much to his annoyance. In “Nouveau Beaujolais,” our narrator has this problem with a guy he knows, Justin. The twist at the end is shocking.

“Ana’s Letters” is the uber-creepy story of a doomed teen romance with a suicide-committing girl. It’s touching and twisted at the same time. Be sure to read this one.

Robert Walford’s story is a powerful examination of what writer Hal Niedzviecki terms “Peep Culture” — the main character, Bishop, started a website for kids to post their suicide videos. The first video, dutifully depicted in the first part of the story, is truly disturbing. The twist in this story is also quite interesting and it turns out that the TV interviewer who speaks to Bishop, Garrison, isn’t a saint either, although he pretends to condemn what Bishop is doing.

Stacey Longo has created one of the most terrible and fearsome old women in the form of Francine in the story “Goodnight, Francine.” I mean bad. But I was very disappointed by the ending of this one, because I wanted to find out who was responsible for Francine’s downfall. And it was done in such a creative, unexpected way, too.

Overall, this is a strong anthology with some great writers, all writers I’d never previously heard of, although some of them are established within the genre. This is a collection of modern tales, only one historical, but mostly contemporary horror that doesn’t do much in the way of demons, ghosts, vampires, or werewolves, so you won’t find those familiar tropes in here. Instead, you’ll find bone-chilling tales that will stay on your mind a long time after you’ve finished reading them.

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