The Nightmare Collective is a curated anthology of horror short stories that’s guaranteed to keep you up at night. With 12 terrifically spine chilling short stories, this anthology contains contributions from some of the best young horror writing talent out there, and was curated by the editors of the PlayWithDeath.com, the premier destination for online horror entertainment. If you’re searching for stories that will frighten you to your very core, look no further.
The Nightmare Collective is a horror anthology edited by PlayWithDeath.Com and published in April 2015. Admittedly, I first picked up this eBook on a whim. I’d been wanting to start reading more horror and had discovered that I could get some inexpensively on my tablet. I bought this book last October, but have been saving it to have at the ready for this year’s Halloween season. Anthology’s are often a gamble, but I wanted something I’d go into with no expectations or prior knowledge. The source itself is rather unassuming too. PlayWithDeath.Com as a site is rather modest in appearance and quantity of content, and hasn’t had any apparent activity in over two years.
The title and cover art are admittedly bland — which is by no means bad, but they evoke little more than “this is a book of horror stories” — but contained within was a surprisingly strong collection of stories. Although there were a couple that faltered, the core strength a lot of these stories had was unpredictability. I’ve said it before, but nothing puts me off more when reading a horror story than an ending that I can see coming early on, especially when it is clumsily telegraphed by the author. The two that were most guilty of this for me in this collection — “Manifest Tragedy” by Patrick Winters and “The Game” by John Teel — had some clumsy writing that took me out of the story as well, but they still managed to utilize some unique twists that helped redeem each story in some way.
It really was a delight to read stories where I was consciously puzzled and intrigued over what as going on, the writing having captured those feelings of obscurity and confusion without being utter nonsense or random. Some of these reached satisfying explanations by the end, of varying degrees, but even in these cases most of them made sure not to divulge too much of the how or why events had happened. The best remained strange and unclear at their conclusions, leaving a lot with the reader to mull over.
My favourite example of this was “The Feral One” by Kyle Yadlosky, which started off as a more typical “creature in the night” type of story before jumping off the rails and spiraling down a path of dark history, regret, and unknown rituals. It had an effectively dreamlike quality as well, thanks to the filter of the protagonist’s insomnia and guilt. The story was captivating in its strangeness, with hazy factors at play that the reader is permitted only a peak at. I understood what was going on, but was denied enough of the whys and hows these things happened that it made the story particularly haunting. This, along with a couple other stories, will definitely stay with me.
If you’re looking for a good collection of horror stories to read for the Halloween season, or just enjoy horror in general, The Nightmare Collective should satisfy you. The book’s range of stories is fairly diverse in terms of setting, time period, and the horrors their characters face. They’re each of decent length for reading one or two in a sitting too, and most were written in a way that allows for better time to absorb the mindset of the characters and get a good sense of place in the story. I prefer this to other horror stories I have encountered that seem to be a little too fixated on convincing you of how scary its idea is.