Howls From Hell: A Horror Anthology from HOWL Society Press

Howls From Hell was a thoroughly refreshing anthology to read. Filled, as it was, with names largely unfamiliar to me from my extensive reading, I had no idea what to expect when I started reading this ARC of the book.
The stories are as diverse as a horror anthology can be, with tales that entertain, unsettle, or force the reader to question what they’ve just read.
The foreword provided by Grady Hendrix took me back to my teens in a way I enjoyed. Though I must admit that my friends and I never played a game quite like “rehash” and I’m not sure I could have convinced anyone that it was a game worth playing, no matter how hard I might have tried. The theme of that foreword is one many–perhaps all–horror fans will find familiar, the way the films and literature of our youth provide us comfort as adulthood takes its toll, and we often find ourselves returning to the unconventional things that help to reinvigorate us and, at least temporarily, return us to those golden years of our youth.
It was no surprise, after reading that, to find the fantastic selections collected in this anthology. These were horror stories written by those who deeply and unabashedly adore horror in the way one does when it was one of their first loves.
There isn’t a bad story to be found in this book, but there were some that stood out more for me than others, so I’ll focus on them.
The infernally-oriented urban fantasy of J. W. Donley’s “The Pigeon Lied” paints a fascinating picture of a Seattle underground that puts the underground music scene there to shame.
“She’s Taken Away” by Shane Hawk is an entertaining and disturbing take on the evil twin tale.
The surreal, horrific folklore underlying Solomon Forse’s “Gooseberry Bramble” reminded me of the late 19th and early 20th-century horror stories of the American gothic authors.
“Possess and Serve” by Christopher O’Halloran blends a bit of Philip K. Dick’s “The Minority Report” with Richard K. Morgan’s “Altered Carbon” to produce a near-future mystery/suspense tale that kept me focused on the screen of my tablet until the end.
Finally, “It Gets In Your Eyes” by Joseph Andre Thomas showcases an eye infection from hell…something I found personally disturbing because I’ve got a bit of a phobia centered around eyes and injuries associated with the eyes.
These were just my favorites, your favorites might be different. You’ll have to read the book to find out for yourself.


Anoka by Shane Hawk

Shane Hawk’s Anoka is a short but potent collection of short stories that range in length from flash fiction like “Soilborne” and “Orange” to longer pieces like “Wounded.” Touching on a range of topics from the alcoholism endemic within reservation communities–as those familiar with indigenous culture will already be aware of–to the epidemic of missing girls and women from tribal communities…and mingling those real-life concerns with supernatural and sometimes downright surreal narrative elements.
This fictionalized version of Anoka, MN would make for a truly horrifying place to live, the implication being that horror lurks not far beneath the surface of everything there.
“Wounded” and “Imitate” are perhaps my two favorite stories in this collection, and there are some similarities between the two. The stories in question focus on protagonists who are trying to make amends for the choices they’ve made earlier in their lives only to have terrifying circumstances arise. There’s a sort of morality play involved, reminding you–as the reader– that no amount of trying to make your life better will necessarily relieve you from the guilt of your past or the influences of your earlier decisions and mistakes. It’s a harsh reality, but it is reality just the same.
I’m looking forward to seeing more from Shane Hawk down the line.