Written by: Drake Morgan
In my opinion, independent press anthologies are a wonderful read. They offer a wide range of authors, many of whom you may not be familiar with or have only seen in passing. Evil Jester Digest, Volume Two is one such collection. While there are prominent names in horror, including Tim Waggoner and Holly Newstein, there are a host of others just as good lurking in the pages here.
The stories here are not the standard slasher/ splatter horror fare. The gore is minimal and the suspense is intense. Waggoner opens the collection with a disturbing look at a man driven by the past, of which he cannot escape. The story is not only great horror, but also a reflection on the long-term impact of the high school bully and his cronies. Where do those scapegoat kids go and who do they become? Waggoner’s answer will chill you to the bone. The stories include a wonderful post-World War II tale from Newstein and a painful look at abuse and justice from Gene O’Neill. The authors here resisted the urge to slip into the cliché and avoided the traditional serial killer gorefests. They instead looked into the dark, shadowy places in ourselves to find the horror that resides within us. Even the more traditional “monster” tales of zombies and vampires feel fresh and take on different, challenging perspectives.
This is a great collection for not only an introduction to established authors, but also for discovering some new, fresh talent out there. There’s some real talent here and I’m looking forward to plunging into a few novels from this bunch! As with any anthology, it does come down to taste. Zombie fans may be disappointed that there’s not more brain-crunching, but the fans out there looking for more tension than guts will be pleased. Read this one with the lights on!
Order your copy of Evil Jester Digest Volume 2 right here!