deathsrealm

BOOK INFO

Length: 316 Pages

Publisher: Grey Matter Press

As longtime readers of The Horror Bookshelf are probably already aware, I am a huge fan of the anthology collections released by Grey Matter Press. Each anthology they have released has featured a different theme, but the level of talent contained within the pages and the publisher’s commitment to outstanding dark fiction is apparent in every volume. After reading all of their releases, Grey Matter Press has established themselves as one of the few publishers who I would read any of their books without question based on the merit of their past releases.

When I heard about the release of Death’s Realm, it immediately became one of my most anticipated releases of 2015 and I must say, it did not disappoint. Contained within the anthology are 16 original horror tales that explore the unknowns of the afterlife. These are not your typical ghost or haunted house stories though, there is a ton of variety that push the boundaries of the genre to some exciting places!

As with any of Grey Matter Press’ previous anthologies, it is hard to pick favorites as each author conjures up some truly frightening and original stories that are sure to please horror fans. Everyone will have their own favorites, but these were a few that really stood out to me and beg for future re-reads.

“Some Other Day” by John F.D. Taff – My most anticipated story from this collection was John F.D. Taff’s latest, “Some Other Day”. It is the story of a father and his son struggling to deal with the aftermath of the death of the mother. The father slips into a downward spiral of depression, haunted by the constant memories of his wife while his son desperately clings to the few things that remind him of his mother. Despite their attempts at moving on, they never talk about their feelings and it takes a devastating event to bring them closer together and finally confront their grief. I have been a fan of Taff’s work ever since I first discovered him and it seems like he is operating at the peak of his powers lately. This story is downright heartbreaking and packs an emotional punch that makes it obvious why Taff has been dubbed “The King of Pain”. Now I could be totally wrong (and I probably am), but while reading this story, I couldn’t help but think of possible connections to the world depicted in “The Long, Long Breakdown” from Taff’s stellar collection The End in all Beginnings.

JG Faherty “Foxhole” – “Foxhole” follows two soldiers – Gaston and Pierre- who are childhood friends who find themselves in the midst of a war set in an undetermined future. Finding themselves outnumbered, the two friends must lean on each other for any hope of survival. They are lost in the jungle with no weapons, radio or food and all seems lost. Faherty’s writing is vivid and perfectly captures the brutality and carnage of war and the desperation felt by the characters. The twist at the end is a little predictable, but the way it is handled still sent shivers down my spine.

Brian Fatah Steele’s “Harder You Fall” – I remember reading Steele’s story “Delicate Spaces” in Dark Visions – Volume 1 and it was definitely one of the most frightening haunting stories I have read, so I was pretty excited to read what he came up with for Death’s Realm. “Harder You Fall” is a unique story of revenge that details the work of Madeline and Cavallero, necromancers who use their supernatural gifts to prey on the dead for their own personal gain. Madeline is dependent on Cavallero since he discovered her at her darkest point and helped her develop her powers to control and make sense of the frightening visions that led to her running away from home. However, it quickly becomes clear to Madeline that Cavallero has ulterior motives and she struggles with guilt over what Cavallero has helped her become and the things he made her witness. Madeline finally reaches her breaking point and turns to the spirits she has helped exploit to try to make things right. Steele’s descriptions of the spirits are truly horrifying, but the true evil comes from the sickening actions of the living characters.

Paul Michael Anderson’s “To Touch The Dead” takes place in a futuristic setting where people die and are given a serial number. Long after the people are gone, all that remains of their lives are personal belongings that contain traces of psychic energy which are stored in the building for the People’s History Project. These belongings are only accessible to Memory Coordinator’s, people who are able to tap into this energy and record the last moments of their owners before moving on to the next case. However, Gregor is not like most Memory Coordinators. I get the impression the Memory Coordinators and those behind the People’s History Project are emotionless and go about their duties with a sense of detachment, but Gregor is different. Gregor develops empathy for those who have passed on and digs deeper into the artifacts than any other Memory Coordinator in order to truly remember the people who others have long since forgotten. He pushes his abilities to the limit in his efforts and ultimately pays a heavy price.

All of these stories fall within the horror genre and are highly entertaining, but they also achieve something much more meaningful as they uncover some very raw and human emotions. Matthew Pegg’s “March Hays” contains plenty of chills, but at its core is the story of love and has a very touching ending. Jane Brook’s “The Weight” puts a supernatural spin on dealing with traumas of the past and learning to let go.

Death’s Realm is a truly great collection. I may have only highlighted a few of my favorites, but the anthology is full of great stories by some truly amazing authors. There is something for every horror fan here, whether you lean more towards atmospheric horror (Gregory L. Norris’ “Drowning”) or some of the bloodier takes on the genre (Simon Dewar and Karen Runge’s “High Art”). This collection is not to be missed!

2015 is shaping up to be a huge year for Grey Matter Press with at least three more books scheduled for release. First up is the brand new John F.D. Taff novella The Sunken Cathedralwhich will be released in March. There are also two more anthologies on the horizon, the music inspired Savage Beasts and Monsters. I am definitely looking forward to all of these releases as they are all on my “Most Anticipated Reads of 2015” list!

Rating: 5/5

LINKS

Grey Matter Press’ Official Website

List of authors and stories featured in Death’s Realm

Purchase Death’s Realm from Grey Matter Press

Gregory L. Norris “Behold: Death’s Realm!” –  Gregory L. Norris and the other authors appearing in Death’s Realm share the inspiration behind their respective stories. I highly recommend those who have read Death’s Realm to give this a read!

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Comments
  1. anthonyriveragmp says:

    I would like to extend my most heartfelt thanks to you here at The Horror Bookshelf blog for your kind words about our DEATH’S REALM Anthology. I especially appreciate your in-depth and thoughtful approach to reviewing our books and the work of our author contributors. Your approach to the enjoyment of literature is very apparent in your words, and the nuanced details you uncover are always a joy to experience. – Tony

    • Thanks so much for commenting Tony and I am glad you liked the review. You and Sharon always do a fantastic job and I have found tons of great authors thanks to Grey Matter Press’ anthologies!

      • anthonyriveragmp says:

        Thanks, Rich. That is our goal, to provide interesting and entertaining books for the horror fiction community by helping bring some exceptional new voices to the forefront. It’s nice to hear we are having some effect.

  2. Bare Wicked Books says:

    Reblogged this on Bare Wicked Books.

  3. Tony and Sharon do a great job! Glad you liked the antho, Rich! I think the whole thing is pretty damn good. And thanks for the kind words about my piece. Glad you liked it! Just wait for The Sunken Cathedral. Heh….

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