Welcome to the Show Edited by Matt Hayward and Doug Murano
Reviewed by S.J. Budd
*Originally Published in Issue 7, Gruesome*
We all know the old cliché: Sex, drugs and rock and roll. Now, add demons, other dimensions, monsters, revenge, human sacrifice, and a dash of the truly inexplicable. This is the story of the (fictional) San Francisco music venue, The Shantyman.
In Welcome to the Show, seventeen of today’s hottest writers of horror and dark fiction come together in devilish harmony to trace The Shantyman’s history from its disturbing birth through its apocalyptic encore.
Featuring stories by Brian Keene, John Skipp, Mary SanGiovanni, Robert Ford, Max Booth III, Glenn Rolfe, Matt Hayward, Bryan Smith, Matt Serafini, Kelli Owen, Jonathan Janz, Patrick Lacey, Adam Cesare, Alan M Clark, Somer Canon, Rachel Autumn Deering and Jeff Strand.
Compiled by Matt Hayward. Edited by Doug Murano.
Bring your curiosity, but leave your inhibitions at the door. The show is about to begin…
One legendary music venue, 17 dark horror tales. Epic concept! The music venue in question is a dive bar located in San Francisco with a dark history of murder but yet never fails to pull in a big crowd. The place is haunted with legends and marks a dark rite of passage to go there. No one can resist the temptation to go there despite the warnings.
What makes this anthology stand out from the rest is its impressive line up of really talented well known authors; Jonathan Janz, Brain Keene, Max Booth 111, Somer Canon Adam Cesare and many many more.
Crystal Lake Publishing are the masters of putting together superb anthologies, I’ve quite quite a few in my time such as Lost Highways, Tales From the Lake and The Outsiders so I knew this would be really impressive.
I hate to admit but there were a few tales I didn’t like, that I felt were a little lacklustre this is most likely because the the stories that I liked, I loved. These anthology filled the reader in me with absolute joy at reading such well crafted horror tales and has inspired me as an author. These are the stories I long to be able to write if I put on my best thinking hat.
What makes this a joy to read is that there are so many sub-genres to enjoy, in here you’ll find tales of vampires, ghosts, demons and some down right creepy shit. Usually when I review anthologies I tend to pick out a few favourites but its really hard to do that with Welcome to the Show. I guess my standout favourite would have to be In the Winter of No Love by John Skipp, a brilliant portrayal of 1960’s San Francisco, if I ever get my hands on a time machine this is the first place I’d visit. Except this tale focuses not on the summer of love but the winter of darkness. Loved it from beginning to end!
The 17 tales in here complement each other perfectly and there’s a great flow to this collection. When I finished one tale I was really eager to start the next. All I can say is you’ll just have to read it for yourself.
About S.J. Budd
S.J.Budd is a dark fiction author and HWA member from Cornwall. Her work has appeared in Aphotic Realm, Sanitarium Magazine, Siren’s Call Publications, Deadman’s Tome, Innersins, Aphelion, Bewildering Stories, Blood Moon Rising Magazine, Shadows at the Door and Danse Macabre Magazine, The Wild Hunt, Morpheus Tales and Freedom Fiction.