13392000_10100536692201734_965253483134756725_oGutted: Beautiful Horror Stories
Edited by Doug Murano and D. Alexander Ward
Crystal Lake Publishing
June 24, 2016
Reviewed by Elaine Pascale

From Bram Stoker Award-nominated publisher, Crystal Lake Publishing, and the editing duo who brought you the best-selling and critically acclaimed small-town Lovecraftian horror anthology Shadows Over Main Street, comes Gutted: Beautiful Horror Stories—a disturbing journey into the beauty that rests inside the very heart of darkness.

Crystal Lake has yet to disappoint me; they consistently put out work of the highest quality. I am the luckiest and most grateful reviewer for having had the opportunity to read this collection — and I will continue to jockey to be first in line for any future publications. Gutted is truth in advertising: these are truly beautiful horror stories. The anthology includes some of the genre’s biggest names: Clive Barker, Ramsey Campbell and Neil Gaiman.

I have mentioned before, but feel compelled to draw attention again to the genius that flows from Mercedes M. Yardley. Her “Water Thy Bones” is a piece of writing that I am simultaneously in love with and terribly jealous of. Another favorite of mine, Paul Tremblay, offers “A Haunted House is a Wheel upon Which Some Are Broken.” I couldn’t wait to get to his story and was rewarded with a tale that is equally fun and heartbreaking. While discussing heartbreak, John F.D. Taff’s “Cards for His Spokes, Coins for His Fare” and Damien Angelica Walters “On the Other Side of the Door, Everything Changes” will not only break the hearts of readers who are parents, the stories will rip hearts, burn the pieces, and then spit on the ashes (in a good way). Brian Kirk’s “Picking Splinters from a Sex Slave” tells a tale of a different kind of parental relationship. It didn’t exactly end the way I wanted it to, but it was a fully satisfying (strangely enough) ending. I also greatly enjoyed Lisa Mannetti’s “Arbeit Macht Frei.”

The interior artwork, by Luke Spooner, is the perfect hors d’oeuvre for each story. The inky images are captivating and I probably spent nearly the same amount of time pondering them as I did the writing.

Gutted is a must-read, must-own for horror fans. Glorious and gorgeous, it will leave you feeling both sated and wanting more.

About Elaine Pascale

Elaine Pascale had been writing her entire life. She lives on Cape Cod with her husband, son and daughter. Her writing has been published in several magazines and anthologies. She is the author of Blood Lights, and If Nothing Else, Eve, We’ve Enjoyed the Fruit. Elaine enjoys a robust full moon, chocolate, and collecting cats.