Following 2020s successful release of UK horror anthology, Diabolica Britannica, author and editor Keith Anthony Baird is back again with a second charity collection, this time boasting twenty-two tales of terrifying Americana, including;

  • A bounty hunter searching for a missing girl finds more than he bargained for at the infamous ‘Shantyman’ club.
  • A young man who goes to extreme lengths to lift a terrible curse.
  • A teenage infatuation which even death can’t halt, which proves you should be careful what (and who) you wish for.
  • A grieving father who finds himself unable to mourn his daughter when she won’t stop speaking to him, begging him to find her, no matter what.
  • The new girl at school who scores a date with the town’s local football hero, who soon finds that in her new town, success comes at a bloody cost
Diabolica Americana Anthology

As with the first anthology, the line-up of Diabolica Americana is nothing short of spectacular, boasting some very big names. We have stories from Jonathan Janz (“Night and Day and in Between”), John Langan (“June, 1987. Hitchhiking. Mr Norris”) Cynthia Pelayo (“Six Sides”) and Hunter Shea (“Daughter”) to name just a few. While it’s reassuring to have so many tried and trusted authors donating their stories, the best anthologies, for me at least, have a lot of unknown names alongside the big-hitters, leaving the reader safe in the knowledge that if their stories are up to the same standard, then you’ll be leaving with a long list of new authors to follow. Diabolica Americana is no exception.

The most affecting story of the collection is probably Sadie Hartmann’s “Sunnies”, which delivers a grounded and unpleasant tale of a very human monster that’ll leave you in need of a shower after reading. With other stories boasting exhuming loved ones (“Daughter” by Hunter Shea) and some inappropriate uses for an embalming machine (“The Kit” by John F.D. Taff), that’s quite the accomplishment. There is more light-hearted fare to be found as well, such as the darkly comedic “Down the Hill fell Jack and Jill” by Vivian R. Kasley which tells of a pandemic lockdown gone horribly wrong for one hapless couple. There is a nice mix of stories here and it’s great to read an anthology that has something to suit every horror fans’ personal tastes.

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A few of my personal highlights were “Black Teeth” by Gabino Iglesias, which takes a fairly familiar premise (possessed/demonic children) and delivers easily the most messed up and brutally effective take on the trope I’ve ever read, and “The Iron Coffin” by Laurel Hightower, where a building site for a new distillery unearths potentially world-ending dangers. If I were to twist both my arms and force me to pick a favourite, I’d have to give it to Richard Chizmar and the excellent “Mischief”. Told mostly via a conversation between an imprisoned serial killer and a local reporter hoping to be the one to break his decade long silence on his crimes, this one was wonderfully atmospheric and creepy before you even get to the fun reveal. 

Any anthology that succeeds in both providing me with new stories from my favourite writers, while simultaneously giving me a whole new list of writers to look out for in the future is one that I can wholeheartedly recommend and with Diabolica Americana having the added bonus of supporting a worthy cause, this should absolutely be on your radar.

Richard Martin

Richard Martin

Reviewer

Richard Martin started reading horror books at a young age, starting with R L Stine’s ‘Goosebumps’ and ‘Point Horror’ series. He traumatized himself at the age of twelve when he read Stephen King’s ‘IT’, and never looked back. He is currently based in the UK, where he lives with his partner and an inappropriate amount of books. 

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