October 10, 2018

Troy H. Gardner et al.: "13 Tales to Give You Night Terrors"

Title: 13 Tales to Give You Night Terrors [on Amazon | on Goodreads]
Series: None
Author: Troy H. Gardner et al. [Site | Goodreads]
Genres: Horror, Supernatural, Afterlife
Year: 2015
Age: 16+ (it's more of an adult book, but it can be read by mature teens, though a few stories are a bit heavy on horror)
Stars: 4/5
Pros: Revisits old horror tropes in a fresh way. Most stories are cunningly contrived, often with a nice twist.
Cons: Some of the tales have a surrealistic feel that may not be everybody's cup of tea.
Will appeal to: Readers who like both straight-up horror (though not of the extreme variety) and creepy atmospheres.

Blurb: Murder, mayhem, maniacs...Journey with us into the dark heart of horror as authors from around the globe reveal their deepest fears. We meet a pair of twins with a sick sense of humor, a troubled family tormented by ghosts, and a man who keeps a chupacabra as a pet. Plus a department store massacre, a terrifying costumed stalker, and much, much more. (Amazon excerpt)

Review: First off...DISCLAIMER: I have already reviewed works by two of these authors (Troy H. Gardner and Erin Callahan) in the past, that they sent me for free in exchange for a honest review. Also, I've worked with both of them as a beta-reader on a few occasions, and I especially have history with Erin. Nevertheless, I guarantee I'm going to be as honest as usual in my review.


Um...I might have another disclaimer to make...I'm not a horror expert. I mean, I've read a good amount of books with horror in them, but not books that revolve around horror. While reading these stories, I recognised some of the classic tropes of course, and IMO, they got a great makeover, or were given an interesting twist. For the rest, I only can trust the authors' willingness to produce original content. Oh, and this is an indie book, but the quality is (un)surprisingly good (because I'm firmly convinced that only those who have indie prejudice will find it surprising). Just a handful of (genuine) typos, the same thing I recently found more than once in traditionally published books 😏. Also notable that a couple of these stories are openly queer, which apparently is far from common in horror. This been said, here are the shorties I found more outstanding, for different reasons.
Crashing Mirrors is my favourite story in here. It starts as a classic teen comedy (with a queer twist) featuring two naughty twins intent on fooling everyone with the typical sibling switch. It ends with the most unexpected (and creepy) consequence to their scam. Warning: this one features some ableist/sexist language, that clearly serves the purpose of establishing the twins' personality.
Store Macabre is a surrealistic piece about a...should I say "possessed"? department store, where all the most shocking/horrorish stuff happens - more often than not amidst the weird detachment of bystanders - while an unnamed Assistant draws a heavy and mysterious sack to the 14th floor. While the deadly store is not a new idea, the story as a whole is imaginative, matter-of-factly absurd and tragicomical. I'm not sure I understood the ending, but after a second read, I'm not sure the ending is meant to be understood either 😉.
It's Different When You Have Your Own is as short as it is unsettling. I can't say I liked it, but one thing's for sure: I'll never forget it. Which may be either a good or a bad thing 😂. Now I wish I knew how the author got the idea. Horror doesn't necessarily resides in blood and deadly creatures... [...]


As I said, most of these stories rely on classic horror tropes, but give them new life and a fresh coat of paint, so to speak. Here are some of my favourite among them.
Black Holes explores childhood trauma and ghosts from the past from the point of view of a brazen female lead (NA age range). You won't expect the twist, and the ending is sort of open.
Clown takes probably the most iconic of horror monsters (Stephen King, it's all your fault 😉) and makes it creepier (and deadlier) than it's ever been.
Waiting for the Wolf successfully combines the "I'm coming to kill you in your own house" trope with a variant of a couple of other ones I can't name in order not to spoil the fun.
Blackened Fireworks features a typical male teen in big trouble and his counteractive attempts to break free from it. Watch out for your past catching up with you in creative ways...
The Housesitter is another unapologetically queer YA story with a classic core, and a few similarly classic tropes scattered in it for good measure. The fact is, while you follow the main character and experience his plights, you end up forgetting what the real threat is. Funny fact: this one casually references/incorporates many elements from the previous stories. (Other fun fact: a fictional band and drink respectively called "This Is My Roommate" and "Post Nap Funk" feature in a few of them).


The overall level of this collection is high, and I enjoyed most of it (coming from a self-professed tepid short story fan, this probably means something). There are a couple of stories I didn't connect with, but I suppose it's more their style's fault than their quality's (one of them, in particular, is very surrealistic). All in all though, the whole collection is well-written and multifaceted - from straight-up horror to its psychological variety. About all the age ranges are featured in here, but most characters are adult (though still in their prime). Less heavy on gore than creeps, these stories might be a great introduction to the genre for a newbie, but I'm sure they have all that it takes to appeal to more jaded readers as well.

P.S.: did you notice? all my headings this time came from TV shows titles (I had to do a bit of research in order to find one for the last paragraph). I'm kinda proud 😊 😉.

For more Adult books click here.


Note: this post is part of the Back to Black - Beating the Halloween Backlist series, an all-month event taking place every Tuesday of October 2018, featuring:
Thirteen Tales to Give You Night Terrors (Adult, Horror, Supernatural, Afterlife) by Troy H. Gardner et al. (Oct. 10th);
Shallow Graves (YA, Afterlife, Supernatural, Horror) by Kali Wallace (Oct. 17th);
Spellbound (YA, Supernatural, Thriller, Contemporary) by Christopher Pike (Oct. 24th);
Requiem for the Devil (Adult, Supernatural, Urban Fantasy) by Jeri Smith-Ready (Oct. 31st).


  1. I'm not fond of books that terrify me, haha. Horror isn't my preferred genre, but I don't mind suspense and mystery. Straight up horror will literally give me nightmares, and I don't even watch previews or trailers for scary movies. My husband watched the new Pet Cemetery trailer and I happened to be in the room -- nightmares. I have a vivid imagination, even when dreaming!

    Lindsi @ Do You Dog-ear?

    1. I don't typically watch horror (unless you count Supernatural...though I saw worse things on Bones! Yuck), and I can't stomach Stephen King's brand of body horror, but some of the books I read are quite heavy. OK...I'm weird LOL. But I absolutely couldn't stand anything bloody or gory when I was a teen. I've grown into a tough-ish old lady LOL.

      Have you ever read any evergreen mystery, such as Agatha Christie, Ellery Queen, John Dickson Carr or Rex Stout?

  2. This is s great way to read more horror this month if you don't feel like getting caught up in (or have time for ) a full novel.

    Karen @ For What It's Worth

    1. Plus there are different nuances of the genre, so there's something in it for everyone!

  3. Hmm, this one sounds really good, I especially love how you described the stories in the Stranger Things and Legacy sections. I love the sound of them and the whole collection. The only thing that gives me a pause is that I'm not THAT into short stories. Well, I used to think I was, but I couldn't get into two different short story collections that are quite popular and highly praised. Will still add this to my tbr and my wishlist and think on it some more. Great review! :)

    1. I'm the same about shorties - pretty much the only other collection that I LOVED was Windows into Hell. I hope you'll end up taking a chance on this one!


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