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Dead Letters: Episodes of Epistolary Horror

Decomposing hands are positioned over a rusty, old typewriter for Dead Letters

Dead Letters: Episodes of Epistolary Horror

Edited by: Jacob Steven Mohr

Published by: Crystal Lake Publishing

Release Date: December 1st

5 out of 5 Stars


I firmly believe that the best horror sub-genre of all time is the found footage/documents. So, you can imagine how pumped I was when editor, writer, and friend Jacob Mohr contacted me regarding Dead Letters: Episodes of Epistolary Horror. Having reviewed his short story collection Nightfall and Other Dangers, I already knew Jacob was a great writer and with this anthology, it’s clear that he’s also a great editor.


Jacob selected twenty-one amazing stories that encompass the best that this sub-genre has to offer, including one of his own. I already was of the firm belief that we should leave the ocean the fuck alone before reading Jacob’s story Berkey Family Vacation 1988. Now I am more convinced than ever that if anyone ever invites me to a beach house, it means that they’re plotting my disappearance.


For those of you who aren’t familiar with epistolary/found-footage horror, rest assured that it isn’t just letters. In this anthology, you’ll find the best that the subgenre has to offer, both concerning skill and creativity. This collection isn’t limited only to emails and letters, featuring diary entries, police/autopsy reports, interviews, online chatrooms, podcast/video transcriptions, game walkthroughs, and much more. In these stories there’s something for everyone, you’ll find ghosts, demons, aliens, cursed places, mysterious creatures, cursed objects, witches, and serial killers


Echo Chamber by Gemma Files - What starts as one person’s search for a lost live recording of a now-missing, singer, evolves into something much darker. The author did a great job with the pace and the different mediums was interspersed nicely and presented clearly. I couldn’t help but share the protagonist’s avid curiosity for the mysterious song even though I knew it couldn’t end well.


Family Dirt by Justin Alec - I have no words for the amount of anxiety this story gave me, as a child of divorce this hit all the spots. The tension is there from the get-go and it keeps building until it’s impossible to ignore the sense of uneasiness. It explores a more subtle kind of horror and for me, the build-up was even more unsettling than the ending.


Bury My Bones in the Bastard That Killed Me by Gordon B. White - This was such a cheeky story, I laughed out loud several times and it was hugely creative. The storytelling is dynamic and it flows really well, plus, the plot is intricate but not too complicated. It keeps zigging when you think it's going to zag, the perfect amount of weird and camp.


Tashlich by Emily Ruth Verona - The definition of a short and sweet story. I adored the construction of the teenage protagonist, it was remarkable how fully-fledged she was considering how short the story was. The twist was introduced slowly and masterfully, not giving away too much too soon and getting progressively darker.


Something Cool Behind the Waterfall by Nat Reiher - This was my absolute favorite story and, considering how incredible all of the tales in this anthology were, that’s saying a lot. I don’t want to spoil the story so I’ll just say that I was hooked and couldn’t put it down until I finished it. The story was compelling, funny, and all-around a masterpiece of the genre.


The Samhain Tapes by Colin Leonard - If you’re a fan of Halloween and its traditions, this is the story for you. The progression from a harmless old man recounting innocent childhood pranks to something much more sinister was impeccable.



Trigger Warnings by Story:

“The Parthas UFO Incident”

Peril, Death


“...”

Violence Towards Children


“Next of Kin”

Self-Harm, Mental Illness


“Echo Chamber”

Cults


“The Night Nurses of Verdun”

War Violence


“Family Dirt”

Gaslighting, Divorce, Child Endangerment


“Dear Kelli”

Suicide, Generational Trauma, Child Abuse


“No Blood, No Bones”

Violence, Historical Racism


“PFC Nathaniel Hart Has Died”

Wartime Violence


“In the Event...”

none


“Bury My Bones in the Bastard That Killed Me”

Violence


“Tashlich”

Child Endangerment


“The Behavioral Patterns of the Displaced Siberian Siren”

Violence, Death, Dubious Consent, Possible Bestiality


“Something Cool Behind the Waterfall”

Video Game Violence, Implied Violence

RE: the hand (of god)

Gaslighting, Abandonment, Implied Violence


“Berkey Family Vacation 1988”

Child Endangerment


“A Testament of Wanderers”

Violence, Mayhem


“The Samhain Tapes”

Violence, Implied Gore


“Drawn Home”

Implied Violence, Child Endangerment


“Queen of This Carnival Creation”

Cults, Violence


“The Second Death”

Violence, Demonic Imagery

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