A fateful family trip to an amusement park. An island movie theater that takes more than the patrons’ cash. A cross-country drive with an unexpected encounter. A family man hellbent on making great time, no matter the cost.
Fourteen horror authors share terrifying and twisted tales of summer vacation gone wrong in Worst Laid Plans: an Anthology of Vacation Horror.
This anthology includes stories by V. Castro, Hailey Piper, Patrick Lacey, Scott Cole, Laura Keating, Malcolm Mills, Jeremy Herbert, S. E. Howard, Chad Stroup, Kenzie Jennings, Waylon Jordan, Greg Sisco, Asher Ellis, and Mark Wheaton, as well as a special introduction by Sadie Hartmann.
Title: Worst Laid Plans: An Anthology of Vacation Horror | Editor: Samantha Kolesnik Publisher: Grindhouse Press | Pub. Date: 15 July 2020 | Pages: 180 | ASIN: B08BTFVLQZ Genre: Horror | Language: English | Source: Received a copy from editor for review consideration | Starred Review: YES
Worst Laid Plans: An Anthology of Vacation Horror Review
“Screaming, though whether from pain or pleasure , he couldn’t tell…sometimes the screams layered over one another, a symphony , and it was beautiful and horrible.” – “Caught a Glimpse” by Patrick Lacey
As Grindhouse Press’ first anthology, Worst Laid Plans will appeal to a wide variety of readers. From regular horror fans to those who just want some scary to go with their beach time, the diversity of stories in here means most readers will find something to love. I am a huge fan of the diversity of authors represented here; Kolesnik does a wonderful job of bringing not only different styles of writing together, but different lenses as well.
As always with anthologies, there are stories I love and some that don’t work for me, and that’s fine. I will highlight just a few of my favorites below (I cannot list them all!) with just a few lines of why I loved them.
“You’ve Been Saved” by S.E. Howard: This is a great first story. Two friends reminisce about good days as they travel. They briefly meet a seemingly innocuous couple in an RV. And all hell breaks loose from there. This story, while the horror ramps up at the end, is sure to appeal to a lot of readers. I had fun with it!
“Unkindly Girls” by Hailey Piper: I love Piper’s writing, I make no attempt to hide it. This story boasts the same wonderful writing and while it is different than others I’ve read from her, Piper’s voice comes through. A young woman vacations with her (questionable) father, tries to make friends, and the rest? Well, that’s for readers to find out. This is one of my top 3 stories in this anthology.
“Deep in the Heart” by Waylon Jordan: Family + cave + chomp and stomp. This one is bloody and gory and at the same time tugs on my heart strings a little. A definite favorite.
“Peelings” by Kenzie Jennings: This one is another of my top 3 in this book. Jennings pulls no punches as we are forced to witness the horrible husband this woman has and her, well, unusual way of eventually dealing with it. And I’m glad she did, I HATE this man. Side note: If you love this story, be sure to check out her debut novel, Reception.
“The Cucuy of Cancun” by V. Castro: Beautifully dangerous, this story rounds out my top 3 stories in this anthology. I want someone to be on vacation in Cancun and read this story, pretty please? Or any beach, for that matter. This one is brutal and gory and I found myself landing 100% on the side of the cucuy. I love stories that do this.
“The Penanggalan” by Scott Cole and “Caught a Glimpse” by Patrick Lacey are two other favorites in this anthology. Both of them are well written and by authors I’ve read before, which made it feel like coming home. Cole’s story is the shortest in the book and some readers may feel like it needs more, but I love that he leaves it up to the reader to fill in the blanks about the monster within. Lacey’s story is the story of a man trying to escape his life for moment, and boy does he. It also has some ambiguous moments and this story just works for me.
As is the case with any gathering of short stories, readers probably won’t love them all. That’s okay. I was able to read new stories from authors I had already read AND find new ones to explore further, so that’s a solid win in my book. The cover, the authors, and the variety of styles within will cause readers to pick this up with a quickness. When you read it, be sure to let me know which ones you loved.
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Tracy joined Sc-Fi and Scary in September 2018. She reviews horror books for the site and bemoans our general lack of grammar, but puts up with us because she loves us anyway. Feel free to reach out on Twitter and Instagram at @tracy_reads79, or on Goodreads as well!
Tracy is also part of the Ladies of Horror Fiction crew.