Howloween—not related to the con of the same name—is one of the latest anthologies by Thurston Howl Publications. This erotic-horror collection contains six short stories by different authors which take a new approach to common horror tropes such as haunted buildings, trick-or-treating shenanigans, and, more importantly, monsters.
CW: while the anthology focuses more on the erotic part than horror (with one very notable exception), it does contain depictions of dubious consent, physical violence, assisted suicide, among others, so reader discretion is advised.
The anthology starts with "Willful Assumption of Chains" by Al Song. This story starts with Will, our foxy main character, restraining Uwe, his wolf boyfriend, before the full moon rises. Unsurprisingly, this is because Uwe is a werewolf (well, he was already a wolf before transforming, so... a wolf-wolf?), but things take a turn for the sexual when Will decides to go check on his boyfriend after not hearing any noises coming from where he's supposed to be kept. What really makes the story for me, besides the hot werewolf bondage action, is how Uwe manages to be quite charming both before and after his transformation, something which plays a role later on in the story.
Next is "Cherry Red on Pumpkin Hill" by Richard Coombs. Playing on the typical "haunted house on the hill" trope, this story follows Trisha, a young vixen who decides to stay one night inside an old, dark house where no one who has entered has left...unspanked. Personally, not one of my favorite stories, but this is mostly because of the choice of kink. However, the story does have a nice and fun setup and follow-up, so if spanking's your thing, this should be right up your alley.
After that, we continue with "Shockingly Straight" by Ferric. In this story, the only one without a supernatural component, we follow Reeve, a crow porn star, and her attempts to film alongside Smoke, her new feline coworker and the "straight" in the title. One thing that really makes this story stand out is the dual narration between what's being recorded vs. what's actually happening on set, with a very start contrast on the relationship between Reeve, Smoke, and their characters; though the constant interruptions, while realistic, kill some of the pacing.
"Good Girls Get Treats" by Faolan comes next. This story stars "Belle," a dog-play enthusiast who has troubles connecting to other pups due to her gender, but who finally finds a kindred spirit in Angel, another pup, and her handler, Meifeng. However, as Meifeng and Angel leave, Belle has to decide whether she follows the pair to who-knows-where to have some more...fun. Personally, my favorite story in the anthology, thanks in no small part to the kinks that were chosen for it, but the characters and pacing also played a big role in it.
Next is "Venus in White" by Cedric G! Bacon. In this Gothic horror tale, we follow Severin, a tortured soul whose life revolves around his mistress, the eponymous lady in white. Now, as it can be guessed by the "horror" part, this is the one exception I mentioned at the beginning. Not only do the overall feelings of dread, decay, and stagnation shown by Severin's narration separate this story from the rest of the anthology, but the sex in this story is not what could be considered "good sex." Overall it's a really good story, and if you're looking for horror, this is the one piece you should make sure to read, but if you're here more for the erotic parts, well, let's just say that the Venus does not stay long in white and that many of the content warnings apply almost exclusively to this story.
Last but not least, we have "Gently Kept" by Royce Day. This story follows Pete and Chaula, a couple of friends who go to an abandoned asylum, but things get complicated when Pete gets trapped inside one of the rooms with no way of getting out, and that's besides the disembodied voices they've been hearing. While not to the same extremes as the previous story, this one could also be considered to lean a little more on the horror part of erotic-horror, especially when taking into account that the kink explored in this story is chastity (an ironic yet fitting choice).
As a whole, Howloween was a fun read, and the several nice illustrations by Tokenworks were the icing on the cake. If you're looking for something short and sweet to read next October, this might just be the book for you; but if you're looking for something to make your skin crawl, there might be better options.