Sunday, September 28, 2014

At Hell's Gates: Volume One - edited by Monique Happy & James Crawford - A benefit horror anthology with lots of zombies

4 of 5 Stars     Review copy

At Hell's Gates: Volume One is the brain child of Devan Sagliani who floated the idea around in his writer's group to see if they would like to pool their talents and use them for good in some way.  The result is a nifty little horror anthology, heavy on the zombies and featuring some genre writers I'm already a fan of, as well a a number of new voices for me, which is always fun.

All of the proceeds benefit the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund, an organization that does much to care for the brave men and women who have suffered in the line of duty and for the families of injured and deceased soldiers.

For me, it took a few stories for At Hell's Gates: Volume One to begin to hit it's stride.  "Time of Death Perspectives: Ollie Ollie Oxen Free," by Shana Festa was just a killer story.  It could be because I was already familiar with the "Time of Death" world, but more likely, I think it's because Shana "gets it" when writing zompoc fiction.

Some of the other notable stories include, "Nefarious," by Stevie Kopas, an enjoyable zombie story about maternal instincts and caring for your toddler zombies.  I thought "Journal of the Undead: The Beginning," by S. G. Lee was one of the better stories with a new Army Doc volunteering to serve at an undisclosed front line of a secret operation.  Yep, zombies.

"Princess and the Flea," written by Paul Mannering, a new writer to me, and someone I need to read more of.  Quite the original story, delightfully told, and worth the $2.99 purchase price all by itself.

They're not all zombie stories.  There's an interesting ghost story from J.M. Martin, called "The Hour of the Beast," and "The Err Apparent," a Demon Squad short by Tim Marquitz that is just flat-out fun.

Then it's back to zombies with a couple of above average stories in "Cracked: A Deadland Saga Short Story," by Rachal Aukes and "Undead Britain," by Frank Tayell.

Overall, a fun collection for a worthwhile cause and a good way to sample a few genre writers you may not be familiar with.  One negative is the number of proofreading errors.  There seemed to be at least one in nearly every story.  I choose to forgive since the effort is for charity, but it would be nice to keep an eye on that for future volumes.

At Hell's Gates: Volume One is available now at for just a few bucks and if you are into zombies, it's worth every penny.

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