5 Star Read: Garden of Fiends: Tales of Addiction Horror

A collection that does NOT disappoint?! I know, I can hardly believe it either!

Garden of Fiends by Mark Matthews, Kealan Patrick Burke, John FD Taff, Jessica McHugh, Jack Ketchum, Max Booth III , Glen R. Krisch, Johann Thorssonby 
Horror Fiction Collection, Released: April 2017
Amazon ♦ Goodreads

The intoxication from a pint of vodka, the electric buzz from snorting cocaine, the warm embrace from shooting heroin--drinking and drugging provide the height of human experience. It's the promise of heaven on earth, but the hell that follows is a constant hunger, a cold emptiness. The craving to get high is an intense yearning not unlike that of any other blood-thirsty monster.

The best way to tell the truths of addiction is through a story, and dark truths such as these need a piece of horror to do them justice.

The stories inside feature the insidious nature of addiction told with compassion yet searing honesty. Drug overdoses are now the leading cause of accidental deaths, and some of the most incredible names in horror fiction have tackled this modern day epidemic.

This is a truly excellent collection of short stories all about the struggle of addiction. All have a horror twist and there isn’t a dud in the bunch. If I didn’t have to work, feed and clean up after people all the live-long day, I would’ve finished it in one sitting because it’s that good. I’m not going to rate them. Just know that they’re all around the 4 1/2 – 5 star range which totally averages out to a 5, right?

A Wicked Thirst by Kealan Patrick Burke

Things get off to a dark start (and stay there, really) with this story about a man caught in the throes of alcohol addiction. His life is a wreck, he is haunted by his mistakes, by his never-ending thirst and perhaps by something supernatural. It’s unflinching and you really do feel for this mess of a man as he is helpless to stop the all-consuming thirst . . .

The One in the Middle by Jessica McHugh

In a not too distant future, a man has lost the love of his life due to his addiction. This only feeds the vicious cycle as he longs for drugs to take away his emotional pain. He lives in a desperate world where the wealthy pay big bucks for something only the drug addicted can offer them. But he’s not desperate enough to sink to that, or is he? This is apparently an excerpt from a longer work called Green Kangaroos, which I now need because I am the nosey sort, but the story feels complete enough here. This one is dirty and brutal and harrowing.

Garden of Fiends by Mark Mathews

Oh how I loved this one. It’s haunting and terrifying and all around awesome. Tara is a recovering addict and every day is a struggle to remain sober. She has a family who loves her and will do anything to keep her alive and I do mean anything. This is a story about an addict, a garden that grows terrible fruit and the damage it all does to one once close-knit, loving family. It’s sad and horrible and beautifully written.

First, Bit Just a Finger by Johann Thorsson

This is a little snippet of a story that started with a party trick that turns one woman on to a new obsession that’ll put some images in your head you may not easily forget. Eww this was disturbing! So fantastically disturbing and I wanted more!

Last Call by John FD. Taff

Ted is a slave to his addiction. When he shows up loaded at his latest AA meeting his sponsor is forced to take drastic measures and hands him a business card, telling him to go to the address on the card and ask for “the last bottle he’ll ever need”. He gets it and gets his life together but the past will come back to haunt in a most terribly heartbreaking way.

Torment of the Fallen by Glen Krisch

Maggie is 15, a runaway, sees demons and sets out on a course of disaster to locate her father. This was like watching an extremely dark episode of Supernatural with a surprise ending and I adored it.

Everywhere You’ve Bled and Everywhere You Will Be by Max Booth III

This one starts out in a most startling manner. Jeremy arises after a saucy night to discover that blood is oozing out of a place it shouldn't be oozing out of. He tries to shrug it off as a result of overuse but it’s difficult to shrug off something like that, especially when it doesn’t stop oozing! Uh oh.

This story is darkly comical and is laced with my favorite kind of twisted humor. It’s probably my favorite because of that. Sex, drugs, cravings, spiders and madness fueled by drugs and nightmare images? What’s not to like? It’s also gory and bloody and so very messy. I loved it all.

Returns by Jack Ketchum

Awww, this was a short and beautifully told ghost story about a depressed alcoholic, a man and a cat ending with a Ketchum edge. It’s a little scary to me that I just so happened to take this particular progress photo when sitting down to read this collection!

This book was a very cohesive collection and I am so glad I changed my stance on short story collections (due to burn out) and gave this one a try!

I received an ARC from the publisher.


  1. Glad you really enjoyed this one. I've been seeing it around a lot and may have to check it out.

    1. It is so very good! Dark and bleak but excellent.

  2. Ooh a horror anthology centering on addiction? And it's good? Cause yeah anthologies can be hit or miss, sadly. Last Call in particular sounds good!

    1. I am so picky about collections and usually find myself bored with at 50% of the stories but this one didn't have a dud.

  3. ohhh a horro anthology. Must put this in my back pocket for Halloween!

  4. This sounds so good! It is rare to find an anthology where all the stories fall into the 4.5 to 5 star range. I will have to keep this on in mind.

    1. I know, right? Collections are usually such a mixed bag but this one kept me interested from beginning to end.

  5. Anthologies are so hit and miss these days that I tend not to read them!

    1. I feel the same. This book was the rare exception for me.

  6. Aw herd babe! So cute! That cover. Goodness. That's awesome that it was such a good one. Anthologies/collections can be so dang tricky!

    1. I've been trying to steer of them for just that reason. I lucked out with this one!

  7. Now this sounds sordid and creepy. Great cover and some great authors included in it. Me wants!

  8. Right? I have a hard time plowing through anthologies, but this one was a solid collection.

    1. I have the same issue. It's too bad they're not all as good as this one!

  9. oh this one reminds me of Things we Lost in the Fire which I really liked! I'll check it out. Great review!


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