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The Dead Inside

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Our identity is the essence of who we are … But what if our identity is threatened? What if our family members or partners reject our identity? What if educators and employers push us to conform to their prejudices or expectations for us? When we twist, contort, bleed, unravel, and die on the vine—what becomes of the pieces that remain? How much can we cut before there’s n Our identity is the essence of who we are … But what if our identity is threatened? What if our family members or partners reject our identity? What if educators and employers push us to conform to their prejudices or expectations for us? When we twist, contort, bleed, unravel, and die on the vine—what becomes of the pieces that remain? How much can we cut before there’s nothing left? Through the pages of The Dead Inside, some of the best horror writers of our era examine the forces that can threaten our identity, exposing the ways identity horror threatens our well-being, our dreams, our very existence. Featuring stories and poems by: S. H. Cooper, M. Lopes da Silva, Paul Michael Anderson, K. P. Kulski, Robert Bagnall, Belicia Rhea, Eric Raglin, Robert Stahl, Sarah Jackson, Daniel Barnett, R.J. Joseph, Sam Kyung Yoo, A. K. Dennis, Ali Seay, Michelle Cadiz, Joe Koch, Jaecyn Boné, Avra Margariti, Michelle Mellon, Evelyn Freeling, Katie Young, Marcus Woodman, Sarah Wu, Elle Turpitt, Renee Cronley, Mary Rajotte, Patrick Tumblety, Roxie Voorhees, Tabatha Wood, and Scott J. Moses Foreword by weird and horror author Donyae Coles


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Our identity is the essence of who we are … But what if our identity is threatened? What if our family members or partners reject our identity? What if educators and employers push us to conform to their prejudices or expectations for us? When we twist, contort, bleed, unravel, and die on the vine—what becomes of the pieces that remain? How much can we cut before there’s n Our identity is the essence of who we are … But what if our identity is threatened? What if our family members or partners reject our identity? What if educators and employers push us to conform to their prejudices or expectations for us? When we twist, contort, bleed, unravel, and die on the vine—what becomes of the pieces that remain? How much can we cut before there’s nothing left? Through the pages of The Dead Inside, some of the best horror writers of our era examine the forces that can threaten our identity, exposing the ways identity horror threatens our well-being, our dreams, our very existence. Featuring stories and poems by: S. H. Cooper, M. Lopes da Silva, Paul Michael Anderson, K. P. Kulski, Robert Bagnall, Belicia Rhea, Eric Raglin, Robert Stahl, Sarah Jackson, Daniel Barnett, R.J. Joseph, Sam Kyung Yoo, A. K. Dennis, Ali Seay, Michelle Cadiz, Joe Koch, Jaecyn Boné, Avra Margariti, Michelle Mellon, Evelyn Freeling, Katie Young, Marcus Woodman, Sarah Wu, Elle Turpitt, Renee Cronley, Mary Rajotte, Patrick Tumblety, Roxie Voorhees, Tabatha Wood, and Scott J. Moses Foreword by weird and horror author Donyae Coles

30 review for The Dead Inside

  1. 5 out of 5

    Ross Jeffery

    Not very often do I award anthologies five stars, generally in their inception there are usually a few stories that don’t land or they’re not for me. This one however although contained possibly two stories I didn’t enjoy as much as the others, still had me gripped and I took enjoyment out of each and every one. I’ve tried to give a brief slice of every story here (spoiler free I think) because I feel it’s important to talk about all the writers who are in this instead of a selected few. Laurel Not very often do I award anthologies five stars, generally in their inception there are usually a few stories that don’t land or they’re not for me. This one however although contained possibly two stories I didn’t enjoy as much as the others, still had me gripped and I took enjoyment out of each and every one. I’ve tried to give a brief slice of every story here (spoiler free I think) because I feel it’s important to talk about all the writers who are in this instead of a selected few. Laurel Hightower and Sandra Ruttan have edited a fever dream of identity horror that is wonderfully put together, the implementation of flash fiction and poetry help to give breathing spaces between the longer stories - there is so much brilliance here that it shows what a wonderful time it is for horror. So on with the show… From Within - S.H. Cooper - a wonderful story to open the collection. Our protagonist appears to be someone who is looked over, passed over for jobs, ignored by the people she seeks help from, but all of that brushing off has caused a painful welt to appear at the back of her neck, one that with each passing comment grows bigger and bigger, she remains silent, swallowing her words back down, the sarcastic retorts she’d wished she’d said. This is body horror and this is a story that weaves that trope extremely well, then ending was perfect! are you queer? - M. Lopes da Silva - A short piece of poetry that packs a punch, the line - ‘you were someone else back then because whenever you said: yes, this is me someone else said: no, you are not so you were not a big fat nothing!’ Really hit home the message of the story! Detritus (Ten Pieces) - Paul Michael Anderson - a grief riddled tale that pulls the reader into a remarkable coming of age tale, where a young boy runs the gamut of personal trauma, where he loses himself in the aftermath of what must be the most terrible incident a child could go through. A deeply honest and beguiling tale of love and loss and how those left behind cope or buckle under the weight of grief. My Skin Drum Garden - K.P. Kulski - told in beautifully poetic prose (akin to the work of LaRocca) this story of identity and race is one that will bloom in my mind for a long time, where I’ll curate my own garden, my own me, who I am not only on the outside, the me the world judges but the me on the inside, the me that winces at the cruel words the world throws. The story is also littered with references, conversational tidbits of racist remarks one here’s all too often, subtle word play or societal snippets of racist thinking, but each subtle reference is an axe to the chest to those it maims or offends - and this story makes you feel, it makes you feel so damn much it hurts. I bloody loved it! Arlecchino - Robert Bagnall - a flash piece which for me didn’t land as I’d hoped, there were some great ideas but I felt it relied to heavily on the final two line of the piece. I enjoyed the payoff and how the story finishes, but with the previous stories and the grandeur that they crafted this on felt a little out of place. A more somber piece, that I felt if it had a little more to it could have been even more powerful at the stories conclusion. Powering Down - Belicia Rhea - this story read like a fever dream, a stream of consciousness that had razor-sharp imagery, I think some of it went over my head but I enjoyed the hailstorm of emotion it conjured and the images it left in my brain twinkling like broken glass. The change in form also caused me to sit up and pay attention, in a good way. A Most Bulbous Congregation - Eric Raglin - a story that deals heavily on homophobia, a young boy is sent to a treatment centre (an old church) to be un-gayed by his parents. What awaits him there is nothing that I feel I want to describe in my review, as this story needs to be read and digested, consumed like the things in the tub consume (once you’ve read it you’ll know what I mean). A fabulous protagonist, a voice in the piece that I could read for hours, descriptions that make your blood crawl and at its core a theme that resonates and was told in unflinching prose. A fabulous story that gripped me from the very first sentence to the very last. One of my favourite in the collection. Evil, Inc. - Robert Stahl - a change of pace and a more comedic offering, which I really enjoyed, as we journey this story with our weary protagonist and his job. There are things afoot which seem odd and they begin to multiply, soon he’s wondering if the things that are happening are real and this story shows how power corrupts. Subsidence - Sarah Jackson - this is just a beautiful piece of flash fiction, not a lot happens but it doesn’t need to when the prose is so beautiful. I loved the ending of this one! What Friends Are For - Daniel Barnett - I’ve only ever read Barnett’s longer works, his Nightmare Land Series and if you’ve paid attention I’m the biggest fan of that groundbreaking series. And so what a delight it was to find a short story in here to savour. And savour I did. This has all the hallmarks of a masterful storyteller, characters, pacing, dread and a story that will smother you with its brilliance and all wrapped up in Barnett’s majestic prose. This is a story of physical abuse, domestic abuse and how someone moves on from that and what they leave behind. Another favourite story from the anthology. Black Like That - R.J.Joseph - a short poem about the blackness that lurks beneath the surface. The imagery on offer lives long in the memory. End Of The Line - Sam Kyung Yoo - a heartbreaking story of trying to belong in a body that you don’t. The story is full of brilliant lines that entertain but also cut like a knife. There’s pain here and it’s served brilliantly. A story that at its heart deals with the themes of gender and the quest of freedom whatever the cost. More - A.K. Dennis - we are treated to a very creepy offering here by Dennis, one that deals with motherhood and the exhaustion that follows. We feel the story is going one way and then bam - it diverts us into some truly unsettling imagery. Ending Is The Only Beginning - Ali Seay - this story follows a mother who is struggling with the tasks of being a single mother, of being everything to everyone and nothing to herself. She suffers from postnatal depression and it reads it’s head in this story as she looks to bring all the scattered pieces of her life back in line and see the picture her life should and could be if she does what’s needed to be done. Exposure - Michelle Cadiz - another beautiful poem, a fragment from a shattered window, the words the dancing light caught within its reflection. There’s beauty in this short poem and also heartache. Vertigo Autopsy - Joe Koch - this was amazing!! The change of format really mixed things up, in all the right ways, and really made the story stand out. It was also exceptionally written, it’s the type of story that you wished you were talented enough to write, the word-smithery on offer is delectable and full of weighted beauty. Showcasing a writer who is at the top of their game and shows no signs in slowing down. The Daughter She Wanted - Jaecyn Boné - a story about a mother and daughter and the struggles they face, a dark portrait of motherhood and being a daughter. All These Colors - Avra Margariti - another piece that paints vivid images in the readers mind. Cookies - Michelle Mellon - this was interesting and I really enjoyed the recurring theme of cookies. The way the writer uses these to define race / identity really worked and the way it’s written really pulls the reader in to the unfolding drama - it’s a fabulous piece of flash fiction (it’s pretty short so I’ll say it’s flash fiction) and the ending, that last paragraph was spot on! Selective Memory - Evelyn Freeling - this could be the best story in this anthology. I loved the almost Philip K Dick vibe to this one, and the way this science fiction type story is drenched in horror and the unknown. Our protagonist is trying to deal with her memories, one’s she doesn’t want, and so enlists the help of a Doctor who can remove her memories. As her treatment continues and her memories are erased, what will be left of the person she is, or was or thought she could be. Also the writing in this one is beguiling and pulled me into the story that it became a story that I just devoured - masterful in every way! The Creature and the Moon - Katie Young - Wow. Just wow. This is a lyrical treat, the imagery that is conjured is delectable and the flow of the prose just a delight to behold. A strong piece that really packs a punch… this story is contained, but I really wanted more, it deserves more! I’ll be checking out more work from Katie Young on this fabulous offering. It Eats Away At You - Marcus Woodman - this is my type of body horror, it’s dark, twisted and brutal - our transgender protagonist believes he’s pregnant but it’s not possible, but something is growing within him, something that he won’t be able to deny much longer. Bloody, brutal and brilliant. When The Darkness Smiles - Sarah Wu - interesting premise, I enjoyed the story telling angle but something with this one fell a little flat for me, just couldn’t get into the story or connect with the protagonist - but I’m sure other readers will dig it! You’re Never Fully Dressed - Elle Turpitt - I could relate to this story on many levels, relationships with mothers are tricky, they mould us into what we become, who we become and all those jibes or pruning that takes place can leave it’s mark (same with fathers too if you need to know) - but this story was brilliant and gets to the heart of that issues with meticulous detail and a rawness that brings up repressed feelings and emotions. Monstrous - Renee Cronley - this one does a wonderful job at disguising what it’s talking about - because it could be monsters, but I don’t know if it’s how it follows the previous story in the anthology or it’s meant to be this, but the monsters of this story, to me, are our parents. Oh, But Her Beautiful Eyes - Mary Rajotte - our protagonist is living under the shadow of her partners dead wife, so she decides to act. Creepy and unsettling. Bait & Tackle - Patrick Tumblety - I enjoyed this one, the voice in the piece is extremely engaging and I liked how the story unfolded. Cuca vai te Pegar - Roxie Voorhees - a young boy has to endure not only his mothers death but the monster that is left behind in the shape of his step-father - a truly heartbreaking story. But there is more to this story, like how much trauma can a body or a person take before they break completely, before they are pieces and parts of the person they were before, disassemble and muddled together. Love Song for the Dead - Tabatha Wood - one of the longest pieces of poetry in the anthology, but the bewitching prose and the imagery created really gets a stranglehold on the readers imagination and I felt every word. An Evaluation - Scott. J. Moses - a man finds himself at an interview, the most important interview of his life, but it doesn’t go as planned, because his interviewer knows more about him that it appears he does himself. The idea of this story is wonderfully original and also as it unravels we discover the brilliance behind its inception

  2. 4 out of 5

    Yvonne (The Coycaterpillar Reads)

    The Dead Inside is a horror anthology that tackles the sensitive subject of identity. Never have I read an anthology that so profoundly affected a part of my heart. I am secure in my identity, I know who I am, what I am meant to do in terms of my career, and how I project myself to others. However, I have close friends who aren’t secure in their identities. They struggle to accept their sexuality, and their gender, they deserve to feel this inner peace without persecution. It very rarely plays o The Dead Inside is a horror anthology that tackles the sensitive subject of identity. Never have I read an anthology that so profoundly affected a part of my heart. I am secure in my identity, I know who I am, what I am meant to do in terms of my career, and how I project myself to others. However, I have close friends who aren’t secure in their identities. They struggle to accept their sexuality, and their gender, they deserve to feel this inner peace without persecution. It very rarely plays out this way and this anthology examines the horror of both the human psyche and the hurt it can inflict on itself and others. The Dead Inside is a phenomenal collection of short stories by authors that know how to break down the walls of the heart and build bridges between experience and fact. I don’t envy the job of the two editors, Laurel Hightower, and Susan Ruttan. The quality of the final stories is some of the best I have had the pleasure of reading. Long short stories and poems are sprinkled for maximum effect throughout the anthology and the impact is like a punch to the face. I don’t want to talk about the stories individually too much, but I do want to mention a few that affected me immensely. From Within by S.H. Cooper is the perfect start to The Dead Inside. Katy is preparing for the promotion of her career, but she doesn’t expect to get something else instead. It’s gruesome and shocking and Cooper always brings her A-game. The author is always able to trigger something in me. The urge to create something unique and invigorating is clear to see, and I constantly hunger to consume more of Cooper’s work. Are You Queer? By M. Lopes da Silva is an exquisite poem about both acceptance and hate. It is a poem that really makes you think. It makes you question both your own sexuality and how you treat others. What really is normal? My normal might not be someone else’s but that shouldn’t make it a topic of ridicule. We are all human and we all deserve love and respect. A Most Bulbous Congregation by Eric Raglin is my favourite story in this collection. It might be an unpopular opinion, but I detest all religions. I am a proud atheist for many reasons but their unbridled homophobia and views toward abortion just leave me feeling disgusted. Raglin has examined the very real human horror that is steeped within the church. There is no horror more disturbing than that committed by humans in the name of a supernatural being. The imagery and prose of this story left me ignoring everything else and just absorbing the emotional resonance that it emitted. The Dead Inside is a guidebook to horror, a masterclass in how identity can both make us and break us. Disturbing, utterly original. This is something special.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Austrian Spencer

    I was really excited when the TOC of The Dead inside was mentioned some time ago on Twitter, not only because it had some names I knew but also because it held some authors that I had wanted to read for a while now, and this was a perfect opportunity to discover their voices. All of it wrapped up in a bow by having Laurel Hightower and Sandra Ruttan editing – Laurel – whose voice I had fallen in love with from Crossroads over a year ago, and Sandra, whose Bio on Goodreads is to die for and whi I was really excited when the TOC of The Dead inside was mentioned some time ago on Twitter, not only because it had some names I knew but also because it held some authors that I had wanted to read for a while now, and this was a perfect opportunity to discover their voices. All of it wrapped up in a bow by having Laurel Hightower and Sandra Ruttan editing – Laurel – whose voice I had fallen in love with from Crossroads over a year ago, and Sandra, whose Bio on Goodreads is to die for and which is very similar to my own, minus the bombs. Go check that one out. Ross Jeffery did the honors, going through every different story in his review on Goodreads, so I’ll cherry-pick and comment on the anthology as a whole. I have to say that this anthology feels massive. It has so many stories in it – 30 shorts and poems. It feels like an anthology and a half, you really are getting your money’s worth- weighing in with a whopping 422 pages long. I refer to Alan Moore’s definition of a good book – "It’s a good book if it can be used, say, in the middle of the night, to stun a burglar". It can, not only by hitting them over the head but also by inviting them to read the contents. Kudos to both editors, there is a consistent feel of quality to the writing and presentation. S.H.Cooper ’s From Within sets the tone of the book and raises the storytelling bar. Paul Michael Anderson ’s Detritus ensured I checked out his Goodreads page and bought Standalone – one of his many works – I loved the focus on character, the feeling of backstory, the bigger world Paul presented. Excellent work – It felt like a real-life story, with real-life concerns and a master at the helm. Mr. Anderson (not to get all matrix-y on you), I’ll be reading you soon. Superb work. Highlights for me were discovering Robert Bagnall , Sarah Jackson & Marcus Woodman , all of whom I’ll read more from this year – I have you on my TBR list. Great shorts, folks. Mary Rajotte , Scott J. Moses , Eric Raglin , Patrick Tumblety and Katie Young (Authors I have previously read) all brought their A-games with pieces that impressed/revolted me, with the stand-out piece (highlight of the book) once again belonging to Daniel Barnett – his what friends are for was just wonderful to read, the prose raising the piece up into reader bliss once again. Keep them coming, Hal, I have to say that Marcus Woodman gave you a run for your money, Daniel, I do love a bit of body horror. Honestly, the sheer amount of talent and cohesive quality of all of the pieces dictate my grading of the book, and it’s wrapped up in more Gemma Amor cover quality goodness, this is going to get a 5 out of 5 ⭐ ‘s. Thank you to Laurel Hightower and Sandra Ruttan and Dark Dispatch for the ARC copy

  4. 5 out of 5

    Jamie Stewart

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. The Dead Inside In an anthology of stories all dealing with identity. I was very fortunate to be given a ARC in exchange for an honest review, which I have given for several of the stories in the collection. See below: From Within by S. H. Cooper Today was the day, the day everything changes for Katy as she starts her new job as office manager. Or so she believes. Things don’t turn out that way, nor do turn out in anyway that Katy could be possible be ready for! A grand opener for the collection, The Dead Inside In an anthology of stories all dealing with identity. I was very fortunate to be given a ARC in exchange for an honest review, which I have given for several of the stories in the collection. See below: From Within by S. H. Cooper Today was the day, the day everything changes for Katy as she starts her new job as office manager. Or so she believes. Things don’t turn out that way, nor do turn out in anyway that Katy could be possible be ready for! A grand opener for the collection, the writing is smooth, effortless and engaging to read. 4 Stars. are you queer? by Lopes da Silva Next up is a interesting piece of poetry. I’m too dumb to be able to critically analyse poetry, but I enjoyed this. 4 Stars. Detritus (Ten pieces) by Paul Michael Anderson A longer piece that takes the reader on a story anguish and tension as high School student Kevin is struggles to cope following his mother’s suicide. The tension comes from the heavy thread of will Kevin follow in his mother’s footsteps, it’s tough stuff that reaches deep. 4.5 Stars My Skin Drum Garden by K. P. Kulski Another cutting story that slices deep propelled by fantastic descriptive imagery. 5 Stars A Most Bulbous Congregation Wes is taken for conversion therapy by his parents, the reader immediately feeling sympathy for him whenever his father informs him that he ‘really wants Wes to try this time,’ this time being his third experience of conversion therapy. In a nice twist of events it isn’t long until Wes’s boyfriend, Taimoor, makes an appearance with the aim to save him. This story goes to some dark, gruesome places. I felt horror and fear for what might happen Wes and Taimoor then joy for what happens to those inflicting their heinous belief’s on them. 5 Stars More by A. K. Dennis Ray Bradbury wrote a harrowing story about an infant trying to kill its mother called The Little Assassin. This story, which is equally as harrowing if not more thanks to its intense atmosphere, made me recall that story. Why is it so harrowing? Because there’s a honesty to the story, that of a mother whose been constantly woken from sleep by her crying child. 5 Stars

  5. 5 out of 5

    Alex | | findingmontauk1

    Oh wow.... OH WOW! This anthology is 100% amazing - the entire TOC is just filled with incredible story after incredible story. There are some poems/verse works sprinkled throughout which are great for the pacing and variety, too. All the authors really brought their A+ game and Laurel Hightower and Sandra Ruttan have put together this masterpiece. I cannot even imagine how difficult this must have been - but the result is pure fire! The range of themes and styles represented all cover just abou Oh wow.... OH WOW! This anthology is 100% amazing - the entire TOC is just filled with incredible story after incredible story. There are some poems/verse works sprinkled throughout which are great for the pacing and variety, too. All the authors really brought their A+ game and Laurel Hightower and Sandra Ruttan have put together this masterpiece. I cannot even imagine how difficult this must have been - but the result is pure fire! The range of themes and styles represented all cover just about every emotion you can think of. There are some new-to-me authors that I am so pleased to have on my radar now - this includes brand new authors to me and also authors I have seen around but this is the first time I am reading their work. All of these stories are dripping with personal truths, identity, and pure horror. A few of these stories had my skin crawling and scared to death, rife with chilling terrors I could feel with every part of me. And this cover?! Gemma Amor totally nailed it once again! Treat yourself to THE DEAD INSIDE as soon as you can!

  6. 4 out of 5

    D.K. Hundt

    THE DEAD INSIDE – Horror Anthology – Thirty Stories & Poetry ‘Our identity is the essence of who we are … But what if our identity is threatened? What if our family members or partners reject our identity? What if educators and employers push us to conform to their prejudices or expectations for us? When we twist, contort, bleed, unravel, and die on the vine—what becomes of the pieces that remain? How much can we cut before there’s nothing left?’ Edited by Laurel Hightower & Sandra Ruttan Foreword THE DEAD INSIDE – Horror Anthology – Thirty Stories & Poetry ‘Our identity is the essence of who we are … But what if our identity is threatened? What if our family members or partners reject our identity? What if educators and employers push us to conform to their prejudices or expectations for us? When we twist, contort, bleed, unravel, and die on the vine—what becomes of the pieces that remain? How much can we cut before there’s nothing left?’ Edited by Laurel Hightower & Sandra Ruttan Foreword By Donyae Coles The following are my favorites which include some afterthoughts: ‘From Within’ – by S. H. Cooper – Love! I see myself in this one. ‘are you queer?’ – by M. Lopes da Silva – My Heart! ‘Detritus (Ten Pieces)’ – by Paul Michael Anderson – There are no words. I’m in tears after reading this story. ‘Arlecchino’ – by Robert Bagnall – Creepy Good! ‘A Most Bulbous Congregation’ – by Eric Raglin – My Heart! ‘What Friends are For’ – by Daniel Barnett ‘Black Like That’ – by R. J. Joseph ‘End of the line’ – by Sam Kyung Yoo ‘More’ – by A. K. Dennis ‘The Daughter She Wanted’ – by Jaecyn Boné – My Heart! ‘All These Colors’ – by Avra Margariti ‘Cookies’ – by Michelle Mellon ‘But even after they’d taken away everything I always thought made me, I wanted to learn. So, I stepped outside of my black-and-white bubble and discovered so much more. And for that, I should thank them. Because the world had become my cookie jar. And I was ravenous.’ – YES! Love! ‘Selective Memory’ – by Evelyn Freeling ‘The Creature and the Moon’ – by Katie Young – My Heart! ‘It Eats Away at You’ – by Marcus Woodman ‘When the Darkness Smiles’ – by Sarah D. Wu – My Heart! I Love the imagery Wu’s words conjure up in my mind; the description is perfect. ‘You’re Never Fully Dressed’ – by Elle Turpitt – Love It! ‘Monstrous’ – by Renee Cronley ‘Bait & Tackle’ – by Patrick Tumblety – That Was Good! ‘Cuca vai te Pegar’ – by Roxie Voorhees – My Heart! ‘Love Song for the Dead’ – by Tabatha Wood – That Was Good! ‘An Evaluation’ – by Scott J. Moses – That Was Good! Thank you, Laurel Hightower and Dark Dispatch Publishing, for providing me with an eBook of THE DEAD INSIDE at the request of an honest review.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Scott Moses

    I had the pleasure of reading this in advance, (Full Disclosure: I have a story in this anthology), and I really have to hand it to Laurel and Sandra for what they’ve curated here. These stories are personal. These stories bleed.

  8. 4 out of 5

    The World According To J!

    Video Review: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vbnoD... We are diving into the world of IDENTITY HORROR. The Dead inside is packed to the brim of edgy hard-hitting realistic stories that smack you in the face. We see Laurel Hightower and Sandra Ruttan tag teaming with editing duty. I would not want the task of narrowing this down to the 30 or so selections we have. My anxiety would be at an all-time high, but that is why we leave it in the hands of the professionals. This copy was sent to me back in Video Review: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vbnoD... We are diving into the world of IDENTITY HORROR. The Dead inside is packed to the brim of edgy hard-hitting realistic stories that smack you in the face. We see Laurel Hightower and Sandra Ruttan tag teaming with editing duty. I would not want the task of narrowing this down to the 30 or so selections we have. My anxiety would be at an all-time high, but that is why we leave it in the hands of the professionals. This copy was sent to me back in October, and being so damn popular and in high-demand for reviews, I just finished it. I remember reading the story by Ali Seay back in October in preparation of her appearance on Paper Cuts (The Future Award Winning Show/Podcast) and thinking “holy shit, if all of the stories are this good and devastating, we’re in for a fucking ride.” Then I kinda sat on it for a while. I shouldn’t have sat on it because this has a prime time players list of writers, along with a few I’ve never experienced before. Anthologies are like the sampler platter at Applebee’s. We get a bit of a teaser in forms of short stories. I use anthologies to find new voices out there in writing land. Not only does this one do the formula I’ve become obsessed with, mixing in poetry to help break up the monotony of any themes, but the editors had the great mindset to start the collection off with a selection from S.H. Cooper, who I’ve become a huge fan of ever since reading “Inheriting Her Ghosts.” So just put this one in the S.H. Cooper admiration pile. I think every selection in this collection is above terrific, but like every collection there are a few that hit me with a quick jab and an uppercut, leaving it’s mark. Like the previously mentioned stories from S.H. Cooper, “From Within,” and Ali Seay, “Ending Is The Only Beginning.” Both are great, crazy, interesting, and very realistic in a way. Cooper’s is more about a woman tired of taking shit and being looked over until finally her true self is released. Seay’s is, quite disturbing, and captures the depression a single mother goes through that is often overlooked. Eric Raglin knows how to infuriate people with his words. “A Most Bulbous Congregation” sucker-punched me in the nether regions. Eric bluntly puts it all out there. This deals with someone being sent to therapy, or a treatment place to not be gay. This story is one that seems all too real, because I think not only there are people in this World who would send their kid to one of these places, but these places actually fucking exist. I don’t remember the last time I got so angry with a short story. A couple of the poetry pieces that really fascinated me are “Black Like That” by R.J. Joseph and “All These Colors” by Avra Margariti. Both presented in a smooth lyrical way. I can actually see the selection by R.J. Joseph set to music, and performed in a spoken word format adding the passion to it. And “All These Colors” by Avra Margariti gives me a vivid kaleidoscope feel to it. Both very enjoyable. These are just a few examples of some of the stories in this collection. Again, all of them are great. I salute Laurel and Sandra for being able to pluck these stories from what I can only imagine were hundreds and hundreds of entries. I can’t find any faults with the individual stories and poems. Probably my only complaint or issue is the sheer size, mixed with the dreadful theme. I may be the only one that feels this way but I think with so many stories in this selection, the theme starts to take a toll on you after a while, like when you are on the 23rd story. I get it. It’s a lot to take in. I hate to say I wish it was 10 stories shorter, but I wish it was 10 stories shorter. Then you can come out with a volume 2. Now don’t get me wrong, I understand anthologies are huge sometimes, and they are not meant to be read all at once, but I sometimes see some that would be more effective if they were trimmed down a little. This may be one of those situations, but please feel free to disagree because really we’re getting more bang-for-our-buck. Overall this is a truly brilliant and fascinating collection of stories that will not only make you look at people a little differently, but look at yourself differently. It’s a strong and enlightening anthology to help us kick off a new year. And I think if you get the physical copy, it’ll be chunky enough to ward off any burglars or attackers.

  9. 4 out of 5

    ScaryShelley

    I absolutely loved this collection! The quality of writing is excellent, and the stories are original and chilling. Read my more in-depth review on Dreadfulesque: https://dreadfulesque.com/book-review... I absolutely loved this collection! The quality of writing is excellent, and the stories are original and chilling. Read my more in-depth review on Dreadfulesque: https://dreadfulesque.com/book-review...

  10. 4 out of 5

    Melissa

    The Dead Inside has spoiled me for all further anthologies. With most anthologies and short story collections, there’s always a few miss stories. With The Dead Inside, I rated mostly everything highly and liberally gave out five star ratings. Each one of the stories in this collection has to do with identity. It’s very personal, and I loved seeing a little bit into each author’s head as I read. There’s such a variety of stories that it’s hard to summarize—but they all come down to the main chara The Dead Inside has spoiled me for all further anthologies. With most anthologies and short story collections, there’s always a few miss stories. With The Dead Inside, I rated mostly everything highly and liberally gave out five star ratings. Each one of the stories in this collection has to do with identity. It’s very personal, and I loved seeing a little bit into each author’s head as I read. There’s such a variety of stories that it’s hard to summarize—but they all come down to the main character and their identities. This is also one of the most diverse collections I’ve ever read. I loved so many of the stories in this collection, but here are some of my favorites: From Within by S.H. Cooper A Most Bulbous Congregation by Eric Raglin Cookies by Michelle Mellon Selective Memory by Evelyn Freeling It Eats Away at You by Marcus Woodman Cuca vai te Pegar by Roxie Voorhees And of course, the poetry. It was so nice to have sprinklings of poetry in between the stories. They were all so beautiful, for all different reasons. There are a lot of content warnings in this book for the varying stories, but they are provided in the actual book. Please check these out before reading.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Sarah Huntington

    Review to be on Kendall reviews soon..... ( I will return with a link) In the mean time, I shall wander off and stitch my heart and soul back together or possibly, I will leave it all torn open.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Emma E. Murray

    Wow! A wonderful anthology and I highly recommend this one! So many talented authors and most of the stories and poems were a hit for me, with only a few misses but that’s just because of personal taste not because any of the stories/poems were weak. I am very impressed at the heart and soul each writer poured into these works. My absolute favorite was Evelyn Freeling’s “Selective Memory,” with my runner ups being Joe Koch’s “Vertigo Autopsy,” S.H. Cooper’s “From Within,” and “The Daughter She W Wow! A wonderful anthology and I highly recommend this one! So many talented authors and most of the stories and poems were a hit for me, with only a few misses but that’s just because of personal taste not because any of the stories/poems were weak. I am very impressed at the heart and soul each writer poured into these works. My absolute favorite was Evelyn Freeling’s “Selective Memory,” with my runner ups being Joe Koch’s “Vertigo Autopsy,” S.H. Cooper’s “From Within,” and “The Daughter She Wanted” by Jaecyn Boné. But once again, there are so many good pieces, it’s hard to pick favorites. Pick up this antho!! You won’t regret it!

  13. 4 out of 5

    Roxie Voorhees

    Amazing collection of identity horror. Contains my grief horror story, "Cuca Vai te Pegar", based on a Portuguese lullaby my grandmother sang to me as a child. Amazing collection of identity horror. Contains my grief horror story, "Cuca Vai te Pegar", based on a Portuguese lullaby my grandmother sang to me as a child.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Eva

    The first anthology I’m discussing is The Dead Inside edited by Laurel Hightower and Sandra Ruttan (Dark Dispatch). The first story in this anthology deals with all the nerves and anxieties of women in the workplace like the niceties we’re forced to indulge in, space, noise, panoptical time, and more. Stories in these settings have taken on a whole new meaning as they hearken to pre-pandemic settings. Nonetheless, with fluctuating returns to work, hybrid models, stresses of arranging home school The first anthology I’m discussing is The Dead Inside edited by Laurel Hightower and Sandra Ruttan (Dark Dispatch). The first story in this anthology deals with all the nerves and anxieties of women in the workplace like the niceties we’re forced to indulge in, space, noise, panoptical time, and more. Stories in these settings have taken on a whole new meaning as they hearken to pre-pandemic settings. Nonetheless, with fluctuating returns to work, hybrid models, stresses of arranging home schooling and taking care of kids, managing the home, etc., all while balancing the role of the Work You, really add up. A woman is convinced she has a particularly bad bug bite, possibly a spider. Other people at the office can see it as well. It gets worse every time she suffers an embarrassment or some jerk cuts in front of her in line or when the time and labour she has invested into her job don’t reflect back to her. The self-blame, self-chastisement, and repeated insistence to ourselves that we must have done something wrong, nags at the protagonist. Even though she knows she is dedicated and on time, she can’t help but question herself, and the insecurities eat away at her. I’m not going to spoil what happens next, because it will give away the brilliance of this story. What I will say is that this story is a brilliant metaphor that reflects all of the societal pressures and norms that women are told to conform to “or else.” . In another story, we get a Lionel Shriver-esque beginning with a teenage boy who gets into trouble an awful lot, coincidentally also named Kevin. At first it my strike readers as your typical ‘depressed and angsty emo teen’ point of view tale, and as a content warning, deals with suicide as well as bullying in high school. It will definitely twist your insides to get to the end. KP Kulski draws from her own experiences as a mixed-race person in “My Skin Drum Garden” and presents a visceral take of the horrific microaggressions that people go through. She writes painfully and beautifully at a time of more pronounced anti-Asian hate, and I hope that readers will join me in looking at ways to donate in support of Asian communities as written up by NY Magazine. The poems included in this anthology, including by Avra Margariti, are just as incisive and cutting as the stories. Rhonda Jackson Joseph’s poem, “Black Like That,” should be compulsory reading and also, it makes me angry that despite how much progress people (mostly non-Black people) think we have made, that the reality proves otherwise every single day. Here is a link for folks to donate to Black Lives Matter. Sam Kyung Yoo’s story of transness and the nuances of how the protagonist navigates thei path is tragic and painful and ultimately, very powerful. Here is a link to donate to the Trans Lifeline. As previously mentioned, suicide figures prominently in several of the stories and is a huge trigger for myself. I am also going to link to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention here. “More” by AK Dennis revolves around the horrors of new motherhood and is also very well-done, while Ali Seay’s “Ending is the Only Beginning” is gripping, painful, and questions the societal expectations placed on women to ‘have it all’–home, marriage, career, children, being good enough, fast enough, smart enough, organized enough, and ‘taking over the world.’ Many women have seen through this facade and know it is an unattainable and unfair standard that we are beholden to. Things are very difficult, which makes it unsurprising that the character has reached past the end of her tether multiple times. The ending is also a gut punch in this one. “Selective Memory” by Evelyn Freeling is not for the faint of heart. I could easily say that about all of the other stories in the anthology, and I do, but this one is … the narrator is so unreliable that I can’t even think of a word to capture what it feels like to be in her head. Definitely not one to miss. The same goes for “You’re Never Fully Dressed” by Elle Turpitt, while Mary Rajotte’s story “Oh, But Her Beautiful Eyes” lands one of the most twisted gut punches of the entire anthology and is beautifully written. Don’t miss out on The Dead Inside, one of the best horror anthologies of the year so far, which deserves to be nominated for all of the awards.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Michael Tichy

    This is no easy read. We live in a time when throughout America, monsters are using the legal system to erase. To tell people they need to hide who they are or face dire consequences. In this volume you will find the monsters that grow in those haunted spaces in us where we withdraw to save what parts of us we can, and the real monsters who punish people for simply existing. The trauma depicted here is searing, but the strength is inspiring. These pages are full of those who will not break, who This is no easy read. We live in a time when throughout America, monsters are using the legal system to erase. To tell people they need to hide who they are or face dire consequences. In this volume you will find the monsters that grow in those haunted spaces in us where we withdraw to save what parts of us we can, and the real monsters who punish people for simply existing. The trauma depicted here is searing, but the strength is inspiring. These pages are full of those who will not break, who turn their pain into art and do so bravely and beautifully. It’s an important book. Painful in parts but warming with the promise of transcendence.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Kev Harrison

    Finished this a few weeks ago and forgot to update my goodreads. What a stunning collection of stories and poems. So many - if not all - of these entries have me moments where I paused, put the book down, and needed to compose myself before moving on. The perspectives and identities portrayed and represented so skilfully and artfully allowed me as a reader to experience their isolation, hurt, rage and other emotions so acutely. The curation of the anthology was masterful, too, the most difficult t Finished this a few weeks ago and forgot to update my goodreads. What a stunning collection of stories and poems. So many - if not all - of these entries have me moments where I paused, put the book down, and needed to compose myself before moving on. The perspectives and identities portrayed and represented so skilfully and artfully allowed me as a reader to experience their isolation, hurt, rage and other emotions so acutely. The curation of the anthology was masterful, too, the most difficult tales separated by elements of humour or poetry. Wonderful. All the stars

  17. 4 out of 5

    Kayla Martin-Gant

    Fantastic anthology with a lot of different, deeply interesting takes on the theme of identity. Some of them don't hit as hard, but even the ones that don't resonate with me still feel weighty with meaning, and I know those instances are more a matter of personal taste and experience on my part than anything to do with the writing itself. As soon as I finished, I wanted to start it over again. This is a lengthy one, but the stories all read quickly and are paced well, and they're all really engr Fantastic anthology with a lot of different, deeply interesting takes on the theme of identity. Some of them don't hit as hard, but even the ones that don't resonate with me still feel weighty with meaning, and I know those instances are more a matter of personal taste and experience on my part than anything to do with the writing itself. As soon as I finished, I wanted to start it over again. This is a lengthy one, but the stories all read quickly and are paced well, and they're all really engrossing!

  18. 4 out of 5

    Adperfectamconsilium - Gavin

    Review coming soon...

  19. 5 out of 5

    Sam

  20. 5 out of 5

    Spaka Eon

  21. 5 out of 5

    Leah Lindeman

  22. 5 out of 5

    K.P. Kulski

  23. 5 out of 5

    Angel Dey

  24. 4 out of 5

    N.J. Gallegos

  25. 4 out of 5

    journalofhorror

  26. 5 out of 5

    Vincent Anderson

  27. 4 out of 5

    Megan Kiekel Anderson

  28. 4 out of 5

    Samuel (Still Reading Sam) M.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Malin Berg

  30. 4 out of 5

    Eric Raglin

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