Cover Image: Unburied: A Collection of Queer Dark Fiction

Unburied: A Collection of Queer Dark Fiction

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Member Reviews

Sweet Dreams by M.C. St. John- 3/5
Night Follows Night by Greg Herren- 4.5/5
Flawed by Felice Picano- 2.5/5
When the Dust Settles by Sarah Lyn Eaton- 4/5
I Can't Wait to Become a Man by Thomas Kearnes- 2/5
Open Up and Let Me In by Laura DeHaan- 5/5
The Red Candle by Louis Stephenson- 3.5/5
Razor, Knife by Elin Olausson- 5/5
The Procedure by Daniel M. Jaffe 1/5
Moi Aussi by Christina Delia- 4/5
The Other Boy by Laramie Dean- 4/5
Cut Off Your Nose to Spite Your Race by J. Askew- 4/5
For the Gods by Robert P. Ottone- 5/5
Some Kind of Monster by Azzurra Nox- 4/5
1,000 Tiny Cuts by Veronica Zora Kirin- 4/5
Blessed by George Daniel Lea 2/5

Overall Rating: 3.5/5
Most of these stories were really well-written, but if you don't like stories involving sexual assault or abuse then I wouldn't recommend this collection.

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Unburied edited by Rebecca Rowland is a collection of 16 short horror stories, all from queer authors featuring queer characters.

I always say, horror is inherently queer, but it’s so nice to see it put into paper (or screen lol) like this! I enjoyed most of the stories; some were amazing and others were just okay, but there were no disappointing stories in this collection.

Some of my favorites include: Night Follows Night by Greg Herren, When the Dust Settles by Sarah Lyn Eaton, The Red Candle by Louis Stevenson, The Procedure by Daniel M. Jaffe, and Cut Off Your Nose to Spite Your Race by J. Askew.

This collection has a little bit for everyone: there’s dark fantasy, paranormal horror, psychological thrillers, creature features, and my favorite, sci-fi horror.

Thank you to NetGalley, Dark Ink/AM Ink Publishing, and Rebecca Rowland for the advanced review copy!

CW: homophobia, transphobia, body horror, illness, domestic violence

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A diverse collection of stories for fans from every genre with wide representation of authors and characters with varying sexualities and genders. This is definitely a collection worth reading as the stories are pretty short so there is something available for everyone and you can skip over the subjects you are not as interested in. Also a great introduction to multiple authors of interest.

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I've always loved collections of short stories so I was excited to read this book. This is one of the only times that I've liked every story in the collection. I loved how each one was different than the others and none of them repeated themes. Each story was different in it's own way and they were great. I look forward to buying this for my son.

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I don't read many short stories because I always find them too... well, short (big books lover here!). But when I saw that these were queer and dark fiction, I absolutely had to try it and boy am I *not* disappointed! I still had a couple short stories that I didn't really vibe with, which was predictable - but overall I'm very pleased with the amounts of 4 and 5 stars I gave!

Here are the ratings I gave each story - these are just my personal opinions, keep in mind we all have preferences and different tastes, so you might end up loving some I didn't !
Sweet Dreams : 3*
Night Follow Night : 4*
Flawed : 3*
When the Dust Settles : 4*
I Can't Wait to Become a Man : dnf - the writing style sadly didn't work for me
Open Up and Let Me In : 5*
The Red Candle : 4*
Razor, Knife : 4*
The Procedure : 2*
Moi Aussi : 5*
The Other Boy : 3*
Cut Off Your Nose to Spite Your Race : 3*
For the Gods : 5* (probably my favourite of the anthology <3)
Some Kind of Monster : 5*
1,000 Tiny Cuts : 5*
Blessed : 2.5 - the writing here was superb but I definitely need to re-read it later because a lot went way over my head 😅

Average : 3.8 rounded up

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I love this! As a queer lover of horror, Unburied is everything I could have hoped it would be. The collection is eerie, and even if the stories aren't all horror per se, there's an element of creepiness that makes it fit with the rest of them. The genres are all completely different, which was nice to see, and I enjoyed seeing queer people centered in horror that wasn't tragedy based around their sexuality, if that makes sense. Rebecca Rowland did a great job putting this collection together, and I hope to see more!

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I recieved a free copy of this ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

This was fine, nothing badly written but also no stories that made me want to seek out the author's other work. I did think it was a bit tasteless to include a COVID-related story, though. The US may be on its way back to normal but the rest of the world is still in the midst of the pandemic. Given the damage being done in India by the new variant there, it seems particularly insensitive to include a story centering on new variants that transmit in a clearly fictitious manner.

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16 tales about the supernatural, psychological horror, paranormal, dark, and science fiction.

I wanted to highlight a few stories that really stuck out to me:

1. Cut Off Your Nose to Spite Your Race (science fiction horror)
Two lovers are stationed at a futuristic breeding compound awaiting their results. Both wishing they are infertile, so they can live their lives the way they would like instead of staying at the compound and conceiving three children to help populate the human race.
I really wish this was a longer story! I loved the main characters and the society that they lived in. This would be an even better story (than it already is) if it was fleshed out more.

2. 1,000 Tiny Cuts (psychological thriller)
Girl meets girl, girl moves in with girl, girl marries girl. Life seems perfect with Claire, until she realizes life with Claire might not be so picturesque.
This story had me feeling for the main character every step of the way. It's a page turner!

3. When the Dust Settles (science fiction horror)
Tara owes The Company since she signed the contract, but now she's hospitalized after an accident in the mines that she can't quite remember. The Company has supplied neural integrated prosthetics so she can get back to the mines, but she's having trouble making them move. What will Tara find once she starts remembering the events of the accident? Will she ever be able to fully use her prosthetics so she can pay off her debt?
This also would be even better as a longer story. I was wanting to learn more about Tara, her friends, The Company, and the accident. I was really sad to see it end.

If you like stories about witches, cults, haunted items, ghosts, creatures, monsters, etc. then you should give this collection a read!

TW: rape, domestic abuse, violence

Thank you to NetGalley and AM Ink Publishing for the ARC

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With Unburied, editor Rebecca Rowland has gathered 16 genre-spanning authors to put their own ‘queer’ spin on dark fiction. While there’s some horror to be found here (along with other genres), the darkness comes more from the emotions and the experiences than any narrative tropes. Of course, dark emotions and dark experiences often evoke dark reactions, prompting something of a tiff between reviewers over trigger warnings. Personally, I don't want them, I don't need them, and I don't miss them, but if you do . . . well, proceed accordingly.

Like with any anthology, the stories here are an uneven mix, but there are a few stellar standouts and only two that I found myself skimming. The queer mix is somewhat uneven as well, heavily weighted towards gay men, but there are a handful of lesbian characters, one transgender protagonist, and another who is genderfluid.

Sweet Dreams by M.C. St. John is a great little story, an understated bit of nightmare-driven horror with a Twilight Zone twist. It’s more sweet than dark, which sets a bit of an odd expectation for an opener as it’s very different from the stories that follow.

Night Follows Night is a deeply unsettling tale by Greg Herren, set amidst the bright lights and friendly aisles of a supermarket, with a slowly unveiling backstory that feeds the increasing sense of dread. Exceptionally well done, with an ending I honestly didn’t expect.

Flawed by Felice Picano was one of those stellar standouts I mentioned, a curious tale of two gay men, a wealthy socialite in need of company, and a cursed antique mirror. There’s so much subtext to the story, so many layers of meaning, it’s a genuine joy to read and discover what it all means.

After one story that didn’t work for me and another that I skimmed, Laura DeHaan yanked me right back into things with Open Up and Let Me In. The opening half page is some of the creepiest, most intriguing material in the whole collection, and while epistolary stories (especially those heavy on chat transcripts) don’t often work for me, I was hooked on every little detail, every question, every doubt. Superb.

I don’t know what I can say about The Red Candle without getting into spoiler territory, but huge kudos to Louis Stephenson for tugging at my soul, breaking my heart, and turning my stomach all at the same time. Part of me wanted this to be longer but, really, it’s perfect just as it is. Another stellar standout.

After another pair of stories that just didn’t work for me, Christina Delia made me sit up and take notice with Moi Aussi. There’s a lot going on for such a short story, but I loved the interplay of language and images, the contrasts between living and dead, love and hate, longing and fear. Vengeful ghost stories shouldn’t be this much fun!

With the first two sci-fi tales falling flat for me, I didn’t initially expect much of Cut Off Your Nose to Spite Your Race by J. Askew, but the bold, brash, sarcastic narrator of Harper won me over. It’s a sci-fi tale of two women trapped in a government breeding program, a story of impossible loves and even more impossible choices.

For the Gods by Robert P. Ottone is the longest (and brightest) story of the collection, the story of a young man struggling with his identity, his sexuality, and the occupant of his closet. The fluidity of the story, personified by Swayz and reflected by DeAndre, resonated with me in ways I can’t describe, making this weird romance my favorite.

1,000 Tiny Cuts by Veronica Zora Kirin is the most down-to-earth of all the stories, and that makes the darkness of controlling abuse all the more horrific. It’s one of those stories where you know it’s going to get worse before it gets better, and all you can do is hope for survival.

Blessed by George Daniel Lea closes out the collection on a beautifully, tragically, atmospherically dark tale in which we’re the character, the subject, the victim, being addressed by the narrator, whose soothing tones and carefully chosen words disguise such horror. One of those you need to reread to understand all that happened.

You never know what you're getting into with an anthology, especially one with so many unfamiliar authors, but Unburied was a pleasant surprise with enough variety and enough diversity to appeal to a wide range of readers. Definitely recommended for lovers of dark fiction.

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Thank you to NetGalley and DarkInk for an ARC.

This book is a collection of dark stories of various genres. The stories are about cults, technology gone wrong, monsters under the bed and much more. Some of which can be triggering. But isn’t that only a plus? Personally I read scary stories to get, well - scared. To get triggered. To learn something new about myself and to process fears. Both childish and adult. “Unburied” managed to trigger me, and I’m better off for it.
Though the stories were only sometimes frigthening, they were all well worth reading.

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To start off, let me give you the run down on the queer factor of Unburied. Every story features queer characters, though most are gay men. Of the 16 stories, 9 primarily have gay male characters, 6 have lesbian characters, and 1 has a transwoman who is straight. It could be that some of the characters are bisexual but at least in the way that they are presented, all but the trans character are attracted to people of the same gender.

I really enjoy reading anthologies because you get a little bit of everything. There’s a swanky restaurant near my house that serves a huge breakfast buffet every Sunday (before pandemic anyway) and I totally love it because I can try everything. If I try something and don’t like it, I don’t feel like I wasted my money on a whole plate of it. That’s what anthologies are like. Unburied in particular, gives the same opportunity but on a larger scale. Instead of being just a horror anthology, it provides a sample of just about every type of dark fiction, from science fiction and fantasy to thriller and paranormal horror. I’m more of a thriller or suspense fan, but I sampled everything, and this is how the meal went.

Sweet Dreams: I loved that the book started off this way. A married couple have a son who thinks there’s a monster under the bed and one of the men spends the night trying to soothe the kid and convince him otherwise. Reminded me of the beginning of the Twilight Zone movie.

Night Follows Night: My favorite story in the book. A man who has escaped a cult and has anxiety remnants (understandably) thinks he spots one of the cult members in a supermarket and freaks out. Likely the best depiction of what it’s like to have a panic attack I have ever read. I could read this again and again. It was super suspenseful and I couldn’t put it down.

Flawed: My second favorite in the collection for sure. It’s not a scary story, more like a Twilight Zone episode, but maybe that’s why I liked it so much. On its surface, a man discovers a mirror that can transport objects and people, but the story has many more layers than that, with themes of clandestine sexuality and tongqi. Witty, smart, and fun. I would love to see this as an episode of Shudder’s Creepshow.

When the Dust Settles: Miners on a faraway planet and robo-limbs! I always have trouble reading science fiction because I can’t imagine the settings well, but this story was very easy to envision and I believed every word. There’s a little bit of body horror in here, too and the lesbian relationship is really subtle, showing that like straight characters, sex doesn’t have to be the focus of queer characters in stories.

I Can’t Wait to Become a Man: I have never done crystal meth but I will never, ever try it thanks to this story. It’s probably the quietest of the 16 but it felt like I was being dragged into a deep dark hole the further the story went and I mean that in a good way. Anyone who has been addicted to something, alcohol, drugs, food, or even a person, will understand how desperation and need and feeling out of control can be the scariest thing on earth.

Open Up and Let Me In: This one was also one of my favorites because it got more and more trippy as the story went on. A woman mourning the loss of her wife starts to go insane, or does she? This story shows how marriage, fidelity, loss, and love are way, way more complex than the mainstream media likes to portray.

The Red Candle: I could not believe this writer was from the UK (the biography for each writer is right after the story, which was super cool) because I could really hear the dialect of the American South in this one. Also, the ending took me by surprise and made me want to reread the story again to collect the clues the author dropped along the way. So good. Another vote for a Creepshow adaptation.

Razor, Knife: The more I read from Elin Olausson the more I want to read from her! Two sociopathic kids meet an older boy, one of the kids crushes on him while the other wants to plot his demise. Reminded me of the original Prom Night, though I am not quite certain why. Creepy, creepy.

The Procedure: This might have been my least favorite one but I am not a science fiction person or a gay man, so two strikes there. However it is really well written and super timely with some good tongue in cheek virtual porn humor and irony.

Moi Aussi: Ghosts of cinema ingénues haunt a Hollywood mansion and punish the Weinsteins who visit. Sad at times but with sweet notes of women loving other women in a much more closeted time. I imagined this one in black and white and that’s because the writer did an excellent job presenting the characters.

The Other Boy: This more than any of the other stories frightened me. Overall, I think this collection is not scary. It’s creepy or just dark. But this story did scare me a bit. It’s also the smartest of the 16 because everything is hinted at subtly and can be interpreted in a million different ways. It tells a story of a man recalling his adolescence and the terror of coming to terms with being gay in a household where football and beer guts are acceptable but sex with a man is something best kept a dark secret or a phase of rebellion. I felt this one deep in my soul.

Cut Off Your Nose to Spite Your Race: So much to unpack in this one, including themes of misogyny, government control, eugenics, and the timeless problem of people trying to control reproductive rights, and it contains one of my favorite main characters in this book. I’d hang around with Harper anytime.

For the Gods: Likely the most upbeat of the 16. The story features an adolescent who is struggling with his identity and finds an outlet through drag. Glittery fun.

Some Kind of Monster: I read just about everything Azzurra Nox puts out. Seeing her name on this book is what made me pick it up. A fun story of seduction by a tempting monstress.

1,000 Tiny Cuts: A Sleeping with the Enemy recut with lesbians and minus Julia Roberts’s distracting collagen injections. Anyone who has been in a controlling relationship is going to feel this one deep inside.

Blessed: The trippiest of the stories, for certain. I felt like I was being glamored by the narrator’s sentences. The more he said, the most hypnotized I felt, which I think is what the author was going for, given the narrator’s supernatural powers and purpose. A perfect way to end the collection.

I review a lot of anthologies on Amazon and I follow a lot of book reviewers blogs and I recently realized that the best reviewers don’t just say what they liked or don’t liked. They weigh each book on its merit, even if it’s not their cup of tea. Not every story resonated with me but I didn’t expect them to. It’s a collection of all different genres! However, if I am reviewing for writing ability, creativity, engagement, and embodiment of the promised theme (dark fiction), I’d have to say, this one is a 5 star. I’d recommend people to buy it and keep on their shelves to revisit as years pass. Tastes and preferences change and this array of stories is guaranteed to have something for everyone.

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"Unburied" is a collection of short "dark fiction" stories (often horror) in a variety of genres, all centering queer characters and experiences. The plots and characters are varied; in one story, a man discovers a portal in a mirror; in another, a woman realizes her relationship is not quite as wonderful as she initially believed; in another, a father tries to dispel his son's fear of the creature beneath his bed.

On average, I felt the stories were decent, with a few standouts. My favorite of the stories, by far, was "For the Gods", which follows a young queer man through his adolescence and into his adulthood as he navigates love, coming out, trauma, and the mysterious creature that lives, literally, in his closet; the characters were vibrant and well-written, the narrative arc extremely engaging, and the premise just generally worked really well. I also particularly enjoyed "Moi Aussi" (justified revenge, ghosts, and a really fun narrative voice) and "Blessed" (atmospheric, a little mysterious, and well-characterized). "Night Follows Night" was also extremely well done - it absolutely nailed the creeping dread and the main character's inner monologue. I also really enjoyed the variety of genres, and the fact that the book was united more in theme and mood than in specific generic conventions.

There are a couple major reasons I am not rating this collection higher. First, and less importantly, most of the horror didn't scare me. I like to be a little freaked out when I read horror; that's why I read it! For the most part, I wasn't scared by this book, which was disappointing given that I felt it was marketed to me as a horror collection. (The notable exception to this was "Night Follows Night".)

My other major qualm is that quite a few of the stories involved sexual violence. (IIRC, TWs for: "Night Follows Night", "Moi Aussi", "For the Gods", "I Can't Wait to Become a Man", "The Other Boy") In some of these stories, it's part of the plot but not the horror of the story; in some, it's integral to the reason the story is frightening. I don't like horror that relies upon sexual violence; it can be extremely triggering (especially when the violence is presented as a "twist"), and while it's certainly horrifying, it generally doesn't do a good job of building the atmosphere and dread that I associate with good horror. Especially given that the LGBTQ+ community experiences higher rates of sexual violence, I did not expect this collection to rely so heavily upon sexual-violence-centric horror, and I really think that a lot of the stories (even the ones I otherwise liked!) would have been better without that underlying thread and the possibility of triggering their audience.

I wish I could rate this higher - I think there's a lot of really great potential in the theme of the collection, and I really enjoyed several of the stories - but this last concern, especially, made it hard for me to really enjoy. 2.5, rounded up.

Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for an e-ARC, in exchange for an honest review.

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