Review by Linnea ‘LiteralGrill’ Capps
From Sinister Stoat Press and edited by Weasel comes Dread Volume I, a collection of stories showing “the sinister side of furry fiction”. There’s no story quite like a horror story, and nothing quite so challenging to write as flash fiction. Weasel says, “I could tell you to tread with caution. Every other horror project carries the same warning. Instead, dive in. Head first. Explore each quick grenade carelessly; the ride is only as bumpy as you make it.” I loved this in the forward, so I put the lights on low and gave this a read late at night, right before bed. Let’s see which stories had the most explosive impacts!
“My First Fursuit” - Nathanial “LeCount” Edwards
Fursuits, absolutely adorable right? Of course there’s plenty of fursuits on the scarier side, but this story shows this on a whole new level. If you’re already a fox, what would a fursuit really be? Perhaps it would be fur stolen from another anthro living in your world like this tale. It left a lingering sense of creepiness after reading, a well written piece! “Cat Problems” - James Stone
We all know someone that has a lot of cats and loves them all. But what happens when those cats slowly pass away? It can be quite difficult to deal with the loss of a loved fuzzy companion. Roger is facing just such a situation and finds himself surprised by the sudden new company he ends up keeping. I fell into the twist of this story in the best of ways.
“Carlyle” - T. Thomas Abernathy
This was such a satisfying read! It is amazing how colorful and fantastic a story was told with so few words to do so. The pieces to the puzzle that make this story were laid out so masterfully at the perfect pace, ending with an excellent crescendo. I don’t want to spoil it by accident, so just go and make sure to read it! “Dinner Guest” - Stacy Bender
If you’ve ever had to go knocking on a door, trying to see why you couldn’t seem to get a response from a close loved one, this story should leave you on edge once you’re done reading. An innocent moment can quickly turn into something you don’t expect and this story shows that quite well.
“Truth or Dare” - Thurston Howl & K.C. Alpinus A story written in the second person? It’s not easy to get right, but I think this story manages it in a novel way. You’re forced to face the horror first hand and not in the way you expect. Through a simple game of Truth or Dare the story slowly evolves in front of you and I’m quite sure the ending will get you good.
“Relax” - Ceildih Newbury
It’s almost unfair to take such words as “just relax” and make me have to think back to a horror story when I hear them the rest of my life! Between this and never being able to look at a yoga session the same way ever again, this story packs a punch! “Monster in the Basement” - Alice Crawford
Written in the style of a forum post/creepypasta, this story follows a saber toothed tiger house sitting for a friend before they hear a loud noise coming from the basement. Noises when you should be alone get one of two reactions: no worry at all, or a spike of fear. This story shows the latter reaction may always be the best.
“Insomnia” - Alison Cybe
Who hasn’t had a night when they couldn’t seem to get to sleep? Some folks might try a cup of warm milk, deep breathing exercises, or any number of things to try and fight off insomnia. Perhaps you could simply count sheep, or visualize something else in your head. This story explores the latter option and just how dangerous that might be.
“My Roommate’s Locks” - Hypetaph
Sometimes people can lose things, perhaps they’re just absent minded. But what if that wasn’t the case? What if that missing sock, misplaced toothbrush, or that book you just can’t remember where you put it was caused by something more? This story surprised me with its twist and I have to say I enjoyed the feeling a good bit. Some horror is meant to make you jump; this story leaves you with uneasiness that isn’t easy to explain away.
“Red Velvet” - George Squares
Growing pains, something everyone seems to go through. If you’re a deer however, it might be a bit tougher when you get the migraine of your first set of antlers coming in. "Red Velvet" follows a young deer at 4H Camp and how he grows his new huge antlers, comes to hate them, and ends up losing them in quite the unexpected way. It’s a classic horror story out in the dark woods while camping, a perfect way to finish the anthology.
Unsurprisingly after reading ten great examples of horror I couldn’t just turn off the lights and drift off to an easy sleep. These flash fiction tales make for quick spooky reading that can be picked up and read in an evening and you won’t want to put them down until you’re done! Unless a story scares you off of course... I have to recommend this book to anyone that wants to enjoy the thrill only good horror can bring.