Review: Garden of Fiends

This is a truly dark concept for an anthology, and for someone who’s struggled with his own addictions over the years it was a nightmarish walk down memory lane. I will admit I was unfamiliar with most of the artists in the collection, save for Jack Ketchum and John F.D. Taff—I knew Mr. Taff from his contribution to I Can Taste the Blood from Grey Matter Press, which I recently had the pleasure of reviewing. That being said, I can honestly say that I’ve found a new group of highly promising writers to watch out for in the future.

These stories take us through the horror house of addiction, plumbing its black depths. They explore the haunted nature of the disease, ghosts from the past terrorizing psychically compromised, bottomed out characters. They confront us with dread realizations: when the high has become the norm, reality having become the nightmare. They illustrate the pain of watching a loved one slide into hell, and the lengths we would go to in order to prevent it. They manifest the horror of possession, losing oneself to the void, the hunger—literally being consumed by it. They depict the desperate nature of recovery, the devil’s deals we are willing to make. They present us with the fear of passing on the genes of addiction to our offspring, and highlight the skewing of priorities—how things once loved can be pushed to the side. And last but not least, they show the ravages of such poisons on the body and mind, the decay of the flesh as well as the spirit.

I hesitate to name standouts in the collection as each story has its particular charms. Despite sharing a central concept there is little redundancy here, each author taking us down a unique alley. Addicts, recovering or otherwise, will find a dark mirror in this book, and I have no doubt that it will set a good number on a straighter path. It helps to know what the true bottom might actually look like.


Review Written by W.J. Renehan

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