Book Review – Peel Back the Skin

They’re among us. They live down the street, in the apartment next door and even in our own homes. They’re the real monsters. And they stare back at us from our bathroom mirrors. “Peel Back the Skin” is a powerhouse anthology of terror that strips away the human mask from the real monsters of our time — mankind. Featuring a star-studded cast of award-winning authors from the horror, dark fantasy, speculative fiction, transgressive, bizzaro, extreme horror, and thriller genres, “Peel Back the Skin” is the next game-changing release from Grey Matter Press. – Amazon and Goodreads.

Compiled by Bram Stoker Award-nominated editors Anthony Rivera and Sharon Lawson at Grey Matter Press, this anthology features 15 all-new works of fiction from a red-carpet wealth of some of today’s best horror writers. With names like Maberry, Masterton, Meikle, and Garton, this title is a who’s who of horror.

Table of Contents
Mystic by Jonathan Maberry
The Protector by Tim Lebbon
Family Bible by Ed Kurtz
Life, or Whatever Passes For It by Durand Sheng Welsh
The Shed by Joe McKinney
The Greatest Gift by Graham Masterton
The Lady of the Minch by William Meikle
Beholder by John McCallum Swain
Orphans of the Air by James Lowder
Party Monster by Charles Austin Muir
Gator Lake by Nancy A. Collins
Superheated by Yvonne Navarro
Burning Leaves on an Autumn Day by Ray Garton
The Long Bright Descent by Erik Williams

Peel Back The Skin - The Haunted Pen“Peel Back the Skin” looks at monsters – monsters that live in your town, monsters that live on your street, monsters that live in your house, monsters that stare back at you from the bathroom mirror, monsters that live in your head…

After admiring the fabulous cover art, the anthology is a veritable smorgasbord of shocking, surprising dark horror fiction that’s intense, creepy, scary, and in a class of its own…everything you want from horror fiction.

I’m only to going to write in any depth on one story because if I waxed lyrical about all 15, the review would take longer to read than the book itself.

Any collection that begins with the work of Jonathan Maberry is always going to be a winner with me and “Mystic” ticked all the boxes (and more). There’s no “feeling out” process here; the bell rings, Maberry races across the cage looks you dead in the eye and punches you like a sledgehammer in the face.

“Mystic” is a seedy noir about a tortured, revenge-seeking PI who doles out justice and retribution for the defenseless dead. Every one of the story’s pores oozes with dark atmosphere and malice. Does the protagonist really see dead people or is he conflicted by mental delusions? The real monster is revealed depending on how you answer that question.

Once read, or should I say devoured, I went back and re-read “Mystic” again three times – it’s that damned good. I’d love to see it become a movie in the style of “The Crow.”

After reading the first story in a lot of anthologies I’m sure a lot of people find themselves thinking “It’s all going to head downhill from here.” So many collections come out of the gate hard and fast and then run out of gas. This isn’t the case with “Peel Back the Skin.” This bad boy is the exception. The hits keep on coming with some incredible dark fiction and horror fiction.

I’ve read a lot of horror anthologies and never made this comment before – I enjoyed every story. “Peel Back the Skin” is my favorite horror collection. I can’t thank Anthony Rivera enough for sending me a copy of this title. I thoroughly recommend it.

The Haunted Pen Rating:

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