Please note this book was reviewed prior to the revelation of author’s identity and actions. Please read this statement from Riptide Publishing for more information.
Lead Me Into Darkness (Anthology)
Authors: Santino Hassell, J.C. Lillis, J.R. Gray,
Kris Ripper, and Roan Parrish
This is a short anthology collection just in time for Halloween, filled with five super creepy graveyard stories from five incredibly talented authors! And best of all, IT’S FREE!
No, this isn’t a trick… it’s definitely a treat! So check out my reviews of each story, and then go grab your copy.
One thing to note, though, is that most of the stories in this anthology are set in pre-existing universes. So if you, like me, have not read some of these authors, you may feel a bit lost at times. But it’s still an excellent chance to find new books to check out… my TBR list has definitely grown!
Take You Farther, by Santino Hassell (a Stygian short)
I just finished Stygian a couple of days ago (my review), so having a follow-up story in this anthology is awesome!
He was the most beautiful monster Watts had ever seen.
Because I suspect a lot of people still haven’t finished Stygian, I’ll avoid talking about the plot of the short story. It picks up a couple of months after Stygian ends, and focuses on Watts and Quince as they try to adapt to their new lives. Watts is still an emotionally constipated dick, but he’s also a brilliantly complex character, and Santino has a way with words that makes the eerie feel beautiful.
Memory Hill, by J.C. Lillis
Billy Hartigan’s been dead for ten years, and it’s really pissing him off. Stuck in Memory Hill Cemetery due to “unfinished business,” he fritters away the long days playing monster movies in his head, reliving the glory days of his indie band, and mourning his missed chance at love with his best friend. Then one Halloween he gets a visit from troubled teen geek Todd Racklin, the last living fan of Billy’s old band. Todd needs some beyond-the-grave help from his idol–and his visits might hold the key to Billy’s release from Memory Hill.
J.C. is a new author for me, but I’m a fan now, that’s for sure! Todd is incredibly sweet, in a geeky, overly-earnest way…
Todd Racklin is so raw and embarrassing I can barely stand to hover three inches from him.
Normally I struggle with second-hand embarrassment when I read a character like Todd, but his sincerity and devotion are really admirable! Told over eleven years, we get to see Todd grow and find his Happily Ever After through Billy’s eyes, as Billy waits for his own After.
Grave Circumstances, by J.R. Gray
So this story is set in J.R.’s Bound series universe, although I didn’t realize that going in. Made me very confused at first, because they were talking about slaves and cravats, and I couldn’t figure out what time period it was! But once I sorted things out (and realized “slave” was probably in a BDSM sense), I could sink into the story.
Secret agendas collide with guns, ghosts and confusing erections, on a tour through a haunted graveyard. Jesse’s been carrying a secret and needs a night alone with George. But George has his own agenda, leading Jesse into darkness, the fright of his life, and a blinding release he won’t soon forget.
The story itself is really fantastic, and I’m intrigued by George and Jesse’s relationship. But without having read his Bound series, I’ll admit that I didn’t enjoy this as much as I could have.
That said, I’m definitely going to check out the Bound series now!
Boyfriends in the Boneyard, by Kris Ripper
A Halloween ménage story with sex in a graveyard! Oh yes, please!
You are a grown man. A professional. You are forty-one years old. You will not get arrested having sex with your husband in a cemetery. Neither of you can run fast enough to risk it.
This is another short set in a pre-existing universe, Kris’ Scientific Method series. But I feel like ze did an amazing job of opening this up for new readers so they wouldn’t be confused. Truman and Hugh are married and poly, and Will is their boyfriend, and there are sexy kinky times. It’s funny and adorable and super hot!
Mayfair, by Roan Parrish
This is a super creepy story about what lurks beneath the surface of our everyday world.
Jocelyn has been secretly in love with her best friend Bethany for a year. And it’s hell. But there are other things—dark, creeping, illusory things—that are tormenting Jocelyn even more. They’ve been appearing more and more lately and Jocelyn is starting to doubt her sanity. But a Devil’s Night ritual in a Detroit cemetery may reveal more than she ever imagined…
Even Jocelyn’s one-sided relationship with Bethany is written as eerie, two girls rebelling against authority by spending time in the local graveyard.
I love seeing things unfold from Jocelyn’s point of view, and the subtle hints we get about her background and the things she’s seen out of the corner of her eyes.