Not Your Average Monster {Anthology}

One of the things I love most about being a reviewer is that I get to talk to so many different people all over the country – and even people outside the country. I was talking with author Pete Kahle recently and he told me that he had started a publishing house called Bloodshot Books. I told him that if he needed any reviews, to let me know. He passed along a Kindle copy of Not Your Average Monster! A Bestiary of Horrors, along with some of the other titles. Along with the book came a warning about his story, which is featured last in the anthology. He told me that it was a gross-out. I don’t really think that was an adequate description! (To my absolute horror, I found myself attempting to eat while reading it, because I didn’t want to put the anthology down. Without giving too many spoilers, I’m really struggling with the thought of eating rice any time in the next month or so!)

{Before I go into the review proper, I want to make sure that my readers are aware if they want to read Bloodshot Books, they can either borrow them on with Kindle Unlimited or purchase them from in digital or traditional format.}

Not Your Average Monster is a page-turner filled with talent. I know I said a few paragraphs up that I love anthologies, but don’t let that weaken my claim. The monsters contained in the pages of this anthology defy title. The only other time I’ve encountered a lamia in horror literature or cinema was Sam Raimi’s Drag Me to Hell. Kahle managed to find not one, but TWO lamia in one story.

The remaining monsters in this tome don’t have a name. They seem to be pulled right from the shared human subconscious, from the days where we were little more than primitives scratching stick figures in caves by firelight. The monsters Kahle has collected come for you in sunlight, in darkness, but always with teeth and deadly intent. I’m not afraid to admit that they scared me so badly that I had nightmares. But you know, I couldn’t put my finger on exactly which monster did it. Was it the horrible two-legged beasts rampaging through a school as a little girl tries desperately to hide? Or the boojum, a nasty sort of beastie that one girl must defeat using the advice of the Parliament of cats, before it can come back and finish the job it started? Or the story of the family in the tunnel, who survive a horrific pile-up only to find themselves fighting shapeless monsters? Maybe it was the parasite hidden deep within a cave, stumbled on by some friends reliving their wilder days. It could have been the spirits summoned by human hatred and bloodlust to the carnage of a battlefield, to claim souls for their own.

Truth be told, I think it was all of them. There wasn’t a single weak story in this entire anthology, and I’ve only scratched the surface of what horrors lurk within. I don’t want to rob any readers of the terror and surprise waiting for them in Not Your Average Monster! A Bestiary of Horrors.

There is a second volume, Not Your Average Monster, Vol. 2: A Menagerie of Vile Beasts, which you better believe is high up on my to-read list! There are two main reasons I’m not jumping right into the second volume. Firstly, the stories are like a horror buffet. I don’t want to run through it all at once. Secondly, I’m well and spoiled for other anthologies, probably for the rest of my life. This is hands-down one of the best anthologies I’ve ever read. And, well, I lied, there’s three reasons. Kahle has not confirmed the intent to publish a third volume (to the best of my knowledge). I don’t want to go through everything now and be left like an addict without a fix.

Oh, and if you’re stuck for what to get mom for Mother’s Day? Well, here you go! Volume 1 and 2 make great gifts for your favorite horror hounds! Or for yourself, if you’re looking to sample the work of several extremely talented authors all in one place.

An odd assemblage of zombie stories

This is a collection of stories edited and selected by author John Skipp.  Overall it was an enjoyable read.  None of the stories were boring, but more than a few made me squeamish.  Most of the stories are non-traditional and feature literary giants Joe R. Lansdale, Stephen King, Robert Bloch, and Neil Gaiman.

One of my favorite stories, “Sparks Fly Upwards”, was first encountered in this volume.  It was written by Lisa Morton and features a controversial mix of zombies and abortion.  It details the issues of population control within a survivor community.  The survivors must make choices as to who is allowed to conceive and carry a child to term, and they must deal with the ramifications of pregnancy that can’t be carried to term.  An absolute stand-out tale.

I barely made it through “On the Other Side of the Cadillac Desert with Dead Folks” by Joe R. Lansdale.  It was a great, avant garde story, but like I said earlier I’m squeamish.  Lansdale is very innovative, and knows how to play shock value for all its worth while creating a meaningful story.  It was so gruesome it was hard to finish – but more than worth the effort.

Terry Morgan and Christopher Morgan deliver an exciting tale of samurai bravery and loss in “Zaambi”, which is definately on my list of favorite stories.  When villages are besieged by the undead, the samurai take care of the villagers.  This story also delves into the selection process the children must undergo before they begin training as samurai.

As a bonus, there are two appendixes at the end of the book.  These appendixes examine the zombie’s role in history and in popular culture, respectively.  They’re fascinating reads for the zombie enthusiast.  (I’ve also used points from both to justify my zombie obsession to my less afflicted friends and family.)

Overall, I would recommend this book to anyone who is looking for a new perspective on the zombie apocalypse.


  • A variety of stories to suit many tastes
  • Great writers represented (Gaiman, King, Bloch, and others)
  • Author and story introductions for every story in the anthology
  • Nice cover art
  • Nice art for each story
  • Interesting and humorous preface and appendixes


  • Some of the stories are borderline offensive (themes of religion and sexuality involving the undead)
  • Not a book you would give to a young zombie enthusiast (see above point)