Five Stories High: One House, Five Hauntings, Five Chilling Stories edited by Jonathan Oliver


Five Stories High edited by Jonathan Oliver
Short Horror Story Collection 
Released: December 2016, 320 Pages
Amazon ♦ Goodreads

One house, five hauntings, five chilling stories.

Five Stories High is a collection of five novellas each set in the same house – Irongrove Lodge. This five story Georgian mansion, once a grand detached property, has now been split into five apartments.  This is a building with history, the very bricks and grounds imbued with the pasts of those who have walked these corridors, lived in these rooms.

Five extraordinary writers open the doors, revealing ghosts both past and present in a collection that promises to be as intriguing as it is terrifying.

My Thoughts
I received the ARC from Netgalley. Thanks, Netgalley!

One house, five hauntings, five chilling stories.

Oh the Blurbs. Why do they lie? I promised myself this would be the year of the DNF and I am failing quite spectacularly at that promise. The problem is story collections. I may never read another one again. Story collections are the bane of my reading life this month. I can’t DNF them because I fear that if I do so, I’ll miss out on something mind-blowing. This one has two good stories that are chilling and set in a haunted house. The other three? I haven’t a clue how they found their way into this collection.



Maggots by Nina Allan

Maggots started out interesting enough but it soon went off the rails for me. A young college student suspects something is off with his beloved aunt after she goes missing for a brief moment while on vacation. He begins to obsess over thoughts that her body has been inhabited by another. . . Sounds good right? And it was at first but then it got terribly dull. It devolved into his search for the truth. That search leads him to Irongrove Lodge, which isn't haunted in the typical way, ugh, and then he discovers some cosmic weirdness. This kind of story just wasn’t what I was expecting from the blurbage. I didn’t find it chilling or haunting. 3 Stars

Priest’s Hole by K.J. Parker

After my disappointment with story #1, I will admit to skimming Priest’s Hole almost immediately once I realized it too was not about a haunted house but about a shape-shifter instead. If I wanted to read the daily goings-on and meanderings of a day in the life of a shape-shifter I would’ve picked up another book. A sexier book, if truth be told. What on earth is going on here?! I cannot rate this one because I only read enough of it to realize it wasn’t the story I was looking for and I moved on to the next. DNF

It was here that I nearly DNF’d the entire book but figured I’d give it one more shot and I’m glad I did.

Yep, that was not a typo. I’m glad I did!

Gnaw by Tade Thompson

The perfect little family moves into Irongrove Lodge and the husband begins to renovate. Uh oh! You know that is never a good idea! His wife has reservations about the whole thing but the husband does what he wants. This story is a slow, slow burn but boy does it ever start to pay off in the final act. The son starts acting strangely and then the wife starts seeing extremely unsettling visions. I absolutely adored this story. The atmosphere, the creeping dread, the horrific images it has burned into my brain? It’s all awesome and it is the reason I am so glad I did not DNF this book! This was the kind of story I was hoping for when I requested this ARC from Netgalley. It’s a shame they weren’t all written in this vein. 4.5 Stars

The Best Story I Can Manage Under the Circumstances by Robert Shearman

This story would fit right in if this were a bizarro collection but this was not marketed as a bizarro collection. So, what we have here is a baby born with only a head. It has no legs, no arms, no torso, no nothing besides the head but it’s alive. Alright. But don’t you worry, soon after another baby is born with just a torso and a little peepee and the two baby parts find each other, hook up and match perfectly. Now what are the odds? Then things switch over to a boy and a strange little door that appears only on his birthday. Was it the same baby boy now fully whole? Don’t ask me because I was skimming at this point. I honestly couldn’t comprehend what was going on here and found it all just a strange jumble of words. Eventually I threw in the towel and DNF’d it. This was not at all what I wanted when I picked up this book.



Skin Deep Sarah Lotz

The collection ends on a good note, at least. Skin Deep is about an older woman who purchases Irongrove Lodge for her boy toy. It's clear a terrible thing happened when the story begins and it is slowly revealed how she earned the nickname “The Butcher”.

This was told from many POV’s which kept things lively and kept me guessing. It was dark with slowly creeping dread and as a bonus I got to watch a slow descent into madness. Great stuff and another 4.5 star story that’s worth a read.

It’s a shame 3 out of these 5 stories felt like they belonged in another collection.

Challenge Update:



Comments

  1. I'm not a fan of reading anthologies for this reason...if the first story sucks it can be a chore to flick past all the pages on the DNF story on Kindle to get to the start of the next. The standard tends to be so mixed.

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    Replies
    1. Yep, I am done with them for a good long while!

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  2. 2/5 is not a good batting average. I have this one as well. I've put it off because as I've said before, I have difficulty reading collections on my Kindle. At least you found a couple of gems hiding here.

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    Replies
    1. Two are definitely worth reading. I'd say read those, skim/skip the rest.

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  3. Loving your anthology reads lately!

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    Replies
    1. Thanks, I need a bit of a breather from them now though :)

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  4. Yeah, this is why I am leery of collections, I always think they sound cool then I don't like them or there is only one two that I like, so I just avoid them if I can. :)

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    Replies
    1. I, for sure, have had my fill of them this month!

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  5. Now your comment on my blog makes more sense! LOL I'm the same way. I have to read all of them. The Scream collection I read only had one that I couldn't make heads or tails of.

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    Replies
    1. Yep, I need to lay off the collections. I don't know what I was thinking!

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  6. So many anthologies are hit and miss. A couple of great stories and few that make you want to poke out your eyes. I am glad you found a couple you really enjoyed.

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  7. Ugh :( You are having the worst luck with books recently!

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  8. I'm sorry this one wasn't great. I've been looking forward to reading it. It sounds like a couple of stories are still worth it.

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    Replies
    1. Two of them are definitely worth a read. You may like the others too. I just wasn't in the mood for those kinds of stories when I picked it up.

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  9. Blerg. This is how I feel with anthologies. So rare to find one where all of the stories are strong and actually fit with the others.

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