Cover Image: Night of the Living Queers

Night of the Living Queers

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

As usual for short story collections, I'm skipping the CAWPILE method and doing more of a recap/overall impression. I actually finished this one Sept 30th, but all of the short stories are united under the concept of a blue moon happening on Halloween, which is about as rare as a Friday the 13th happening in October, so it felt appropriate to post the review today, instead.

Right off the bat, I was impressed by these YA stories. They feature BIPOC LGBTQIA+ main characters, which is great for representation because (as the editor points out in the introduction) that's so rarely shown in horror. Diverse representation only shown in contemporary fiction is better than nothing, but it isn't actual diverse representation- give us BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ main characters in all the genres (I'm still waiting for those historical fictions with diverse MCs that aren't just victims of colonization).

The first 12 stories are well-written YA with mostly great pacing. Some take a 'less is more' approach to spookiness (my personal favorite), others are explicitly gory. The full range of things that go bump in the night is here, as well. And there's a lot of diversity in the overall vibe and endings, too. Some are more allegorical, some are tragic, most involve character development even though they're short stories for a YA audience. I was charmed by the range of these authors and stories.

Only one (the last one) disappointed me, which may be a new record for "number of YA short stories in an anthology that I enjoyed". The final one just felt phoned in (poor writing, poor plot, poor pacing). 

If you like creepy short stories with a teen MC and realistic representation (aside from the paranormal stuff, of course), you'll probably enjoy this collection.
Was this review helpful?
The second half was overall better than the first half, but not all the stories were created equal, so I reviewed them all.

1. Welcome to Hotel Paranoia by Vanessa Montalban - 3⭐ - there was a strange narrative distance that kept me feeling rather detached and not particularly invested. I felt like we spent too much effort on the other people and not enough on Chrys and Anabel.
2. The Visitor by Kalynn Bayron - 3⭐ - the themes of grief were undeniable, and they suffused Toya's and her father's characters. But it felt like there was a lot of kind of "nonsense" horror movie tropes for the lead-up that both didn't make sense and didn't pay off by the end when the story took a wholly different turn than I expected.
3. A Brief Intermission by Sara Farizan - 4⭐ - this was a fun one! The characters were clear and the situation was unique enough to be memorable - the setting of a drive-in theater is the kind of thing that immediately immerses you.
4. Guested by Rebecca Kim Wells - 3.5⭐ - I wasn't a big fan of second-person POV for this one, just because Nina was so clear that having the "you" pronoun just muddied things. I really enjoyed the story itself, though, and I think the choice of second person does pay off in the end, but it just didn't fit that well through the majority.
5. Rocky Road with Caramel Drizzle by Kosoko Jackson - 3⭐ - this one was heavy, and made of a different kind of horror. The prose was kind of stiff, which I wasn't particularly fond of, and each of the side characters were introduced with one trait to remember in place of giving them a personality.
6. The Three Phases of Ghost-Hunting by Alex Brown - 3⭐ - it was a little ridiculous and probably the wrong story to follow Kosoko Jackson's. Daisy and Iris are cute but the tone of the story just didn't fit the vibe of the rest of the stories so far; nothing was unsettling or eerie.
7. Nine Stops by Trang Thanh Tran - 4.5⭐ - not really sure I understand why it ended that way but this was the best story so far. It was well paced with the punctuation of the subway stops, dug into detail in all the right places, tense and unsettling with enough "real-life horror" that it just worked.
8. Leyla Mendoza and the Last House on the Lane by Maya Gittelman - 4.5⭐ - oh this one felt like the magic of Halloweentown full of hope and self-discovery and resilience, but make it queer and Filipino. My only gripe is that (while it worked better here) I didn't particularly love the use of second person. I wanted to see a bit more of Leyla's individuality shine through.
9. In You to Burn by Em X Liu - 4⭐ - Liu has a very dynamic writing style full of jagged edges. This one was a little bit too long, I think, but I appreciate what it intended to accomplish.
10. Anna by Shelly Page - 4⭐ - This story had a great balance of real life drama (the girlfriend) and the supernatural. The character is clear and dimensional and there's enough of a hint at something more.
11. Hey There, Demons by Tara Sim - 3.5⭐ - kind of a slow start but I liked Kody and the pronouns (which sounds kind of like a band) and we really get to see in a very short story Noah transitioning from feeling invisible to being seen.
12. Save Me From Myself by Ayida Shonibar - 4⭐ - I've been bamboozled. This story took me for a whole ride and then shoved me out of the moving train. The ending was quite unexpected. Though I appreciate the content warnings and enjoyed seeing even glimpses of South Asian culture, gods, and beliefs.
13. Knickknack by Ryan Douglass - 3⭐ - I appreciate that this story didn't take itself seriously (because the premise was ridiculous) but I honestly couldn't get behind it at all. Like I really liked Noah and Leo's dynamic, but what was even the point of Brennan and Kayla? Walking exposition? It was weird.
Was this review helpful?
This was very entertaining! As per usual with anthologies, some stories are stronger than others and I did feel that the prose got a little clunky and awkward in places but not enough to ruin my enjoyment. The exploration of coming out through the lens of horror was very interesting and I could see this being a fun, spooky read for young teens exploring that aspect of themselves.
Was this review helpful?
This anthology is for all of the kids who felt like they didn't fit in but on halloween, the night when nothing fits in the way it's supposed to, we finally felt free. to all the kids who were drawn to halloween because we're all finally allowed to be a little weird, because the rest of the year it's frowned upon. The love for halloween and all things spooky is really Felt in this through every single story. Honestly such a delight!!
Was this review helpful?
Did I just finish these thirteen creepy blue moon stories moments before midnight on the evening of a Blue Supermoon while a thunderstorm starts overhead… yeah not joking, that’s for real what is happening right now.
And I didn’t even try to time it as I didn’t even know about Blue Supermoon until yesterday and I started reading after my hubby went to bed… so yeah are things feeling a little bit creepy right now?! They sure are.

Not unlike the stories in this book. Most are quite queer, quirky, and will make you quiver.

Story #1 - Welcome to the Hotel Paranoia by Vanessa Montalban
A fairly cliche horror story. Only really briefly relevant that the main gal is queer; but that was fine with me.
No real exciting twist or horror here; but the story set a mood that seems appropriate to kick off this anthology.

Story #2 - The Visitor by Kalynn Bayron
Sweet little story about why it’s important to obey the rules.

Story #3 - A Brief Intermission by Sara Farizan
Not really all that scary to me. Just lacked real substance.

Story #4 - Guested by Rebecca Kim Wells
By far the creepiest and best story so far.
Lacks any real ‘queerness’ to it; but I don’t even care because the concept and idea here is brilliant AND the execution is spot on.

Story #5 - Rocky Road with Caramel Drizzle
Finally a story where the gayness of our lead character is a major factor to the overall story.
A very sad, but well written story that rings of the kind of vengeance many likely wish upon those who’ve done them serious harm.

”Playing with the dead seems like a pretty loose interpretation of fun, but what else do I have planned?”

What else indeed…

Story #6 - The Three Phases of Ghost-Hunting by Alex Brown
Adorable, very YA or even MG. Super cute lesbians to round off the package.

Story #7 - Nine Stops by Trang Thanh Tran
This female author is taking the world of horror by storm. If you don’t know her name yet then note it now. She’s gonna be huge!
A clever will story with a twist I can’t help but love. Sadness in this story as well as our lead character copes with grief; but at end of the day it’s the horror you’ll stay for.

Story #8 - Layla Mendoza and the Last House on the Lane
”Nothing feels like home when you are not at home with yourself.”

Wow! A brilliantly written trans story that includes some magic to create hope. This is exactly the kind of story I expected in this anthology and I’m so glad it’s here.

Story #9 - In You To Burn by Em. X. Liu
Inspired by an Asian folktale, this story was overlayed to be modern but keep a direct connection back to its origin. I really liked it and would love to see it expanded into a full story or novel.
(I should confess I adore Liu and so may be biased. lol)

Story #10 - Anna by Shelly Page
Yes!! It might be cliche and mostly predictable but this is the kind of story I expected and hoped for in this anthology. It’s perfect in its trope use, lesbian romance, small children as the evil (sort of) and the blue moon Hallowe’en setting, all the authors have used, ties it all together

Story #11 - Hey There, Demons by Tara Sim
I should be fair and warn you I adore Tara Sim’s works to date. Go read Timekeeper trilogy if you want the sweetest gay teen boys romance ever (plus some cool clock magic!).
So it’s not surprising I enjoyed this story. Very much in Sim‘s vein with more gay teenage boys (and demons added in for flair).

Story #12 - Save Me From Myself by Ayida Shonibar
I’m not familiar with Kali Maa; but damn if I’m not going to ensure I learn more about this demon, god(dess), deity; because this story of wishing things into reality is fascinating. These body swaps are way better than Freaky Friday; and have more consequences.

Story #13 - Knickknack by Ryan Douglass
Creepy, cute, and courageous. What more can you ask for in the thirteenth story of a queer blue moon thriller/horror anthology?
For it to be a Blue Supermoon minutes before midnight as thunder rolls?
Cause that is literally what is happening in my life right now. No word of a lie!!!
Meanwhile my pitbull is scared and freaking, that’s not disturbing me at all… what timing to end a wonderful anthology!

While I received an eARC of this anthology I can honestly say it will be highly recommended to many by me; and will be getting a print copy in my personal library. I struggle to give anthologies 5 stars… as usually there is at least one story I don’t connect with, like here. This is a solid 4.5 stars and right on the topics you’d expect based on the authors included and the blue moon queer horror focus.

Please note: I received an eARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. This is an honest and unbiased review.
Was this review helpful?
Hotel paranoia; This story is cute and short with a little twisted spooky to it. It gave me nostalgia for the Goosebump days!

The Visitor; wonderfully spooky but not nearly enough. I hope this story gets a full book because I would buy it so quick. Wonderful writing and an absolutely enthralling tale.

A Brief Interruption; a very bizarre tale but not unpleasant… well, a little gory towards the end but I liked it well enough.

Guested; this story is so confusing and I didn’t fully understand anything that was happening. Definitely needed more details about “guesting.” This story is told in second person which was also hard to get into. 

Rocky Road with Caramel Drizzle; I loved this story! My heart aches for Julian and I would love to know more about his relationship with Amber- who I kind of hated. This one is so well written and definitely left me craving more.

The Three Phases of Ghost Hunting; a very cheesy tale of Terrifying Bob, the pizza stealing pirate ghost. Pun intended. Cute story, a very elementary read, with the exception of a kiss; which may or may not be appropriate in your household.

Nine Stops; The Ring meets…. Technology? No thats not right either.. this story is messed up in the best way and I’m salivating for more. This is the start to what could be an incredibly haunting horror story or even a somewhat dystopian book! Loved this one. 

Leyla Mendoza and the Last House on the Lane; A beautiful tale of life not always being what it seems, and showing that there is a light on the other side of the vines.

In You to Burn; Not too bad. A little pyrotechnic fun, but a bizarre twist at the end

Anna; my mother would beat me if I played with an ouija board, so of course I loved a story about other girls doing just that. 

Hey There, Demons; Oh this story might be my favorite so far! It’s classic, but cute, and definitely made me giggle a time or two!

Save Me from Myself- comes with a trigger warning; pretty depressing and leaves you with a giant question mark at the end. 

Knickknack; not my favorite. Lacked intrigue and excitement.
Was this review helpful?
Thank you net gallery for the advanced copy of this book.  Night of the living queers is a horror anthology surrounded by the theme of a blue moon on Halloween.   Interesting premise, winds up with a lot of stories about Halloween parties that don't end so well.
Was this review helpful?
"Night of the Living Queers" is a well-received anthology that brings together diverse voices to explore queer themes through the lens of horror. I appreciated the representation of different cultures, genders, and sexualities and the mix of tones, ranging from spooky and sad to sweet and funny. Several stories, like "The Visitor" by Kalynn Bayron, "Guested" by Rebecca Kim Wells, "Hey There, Demons" by Tara Sim, and "Knickknack" by Ryan Douglass, were particular standouts for their unique takes, atmospheres, and engaging narratives.

I highly recommend the anthology to those who are horror fans and are looking to explore diverse narratives, especially those featuring LGBTQ+ themes. This collection blends supernatural elements with more human themes like grief, relationships, and identity, striking a balance between entertaining and thought-provoking narratives. Overall, "Night of the Living Queers" is a must-read for those interested in diverse, queer-focused horror anthologies.
Was this review helpful?
I really, really wanted to like this one because the premise is so wonderful... but the prose was so clumsy that it took me out of nearly every story. I really don't like YA that assumes the teens reading it can only comprehend the levels of substance and style of a Tumblr post. I did appreciate the exploration of coming out through a horror lens.
Was this review helpful?
I absolutely loved this anthology of spooky queer stories. Definitely got me into the spooky season. I will reread this every year for Halloween. Also loved that it was written by POCs. Great representation.
Was this review helpful?
Short fiction is my favorite.  I love discovering new authors and getting a taste of their storytelling, and this collection was so, so good!  This was just the perfect amount of spooky to get me excited for the spoopy season!  Highly recommend!
Was this review helpful?
The concept of this anthology might have been better than the execution. 

I loved that this is a book filled with queer characters in the horror genre and that was fun. Seeing some authors I already know and enjoy write quick little stories was also a plus. 

However, I disliked how short every story was. I know that this is the point of an anthology, but I felt like the few stories I actually got into, ended as soon as I was getting into them. There were also a few stories in this collection I had to completely skip.
Was this review helpful?
🕸️🎃👻 a perfect queer horror anthology for spooky season 🕸️🎃👻

After reading The Gathering Dark last year, I realized horror anthologies were my absolute favorite way to read scary stories. They short, disturbing, and perfect for my limited attention span. Full of strange happenings and unexplained events under a blue moon, Night of the Living Queers did not disappoint! I’ve only read books from a few of these authors before, and these creepy, compelling tales have definitely lead me to add their books to my tbr! I especially loved The Guested by Rebecca Kim Wells and In You to Burn by Em X. Liu. 

Many of these stories had a lot of humor sprinkled in as well which I loved! 

Thank you NetGalley and Wednesday books for this arc 🌑🎃🩸
Was this review helpful?
This book was a treat going into spooky series.  These stories made me seek out a few of the authors' novels to read further in their catalogs.  I hope this continues next year with another set of these stories.
Was this review helpful?
This book is truly what we need so much more of. I really urge everyone to read it. Especially since it's spooky season. This is the perfect story.
Was this review helpful?
I was anxious to read this horror anthology the second I saw it announced. Several of the stories are written by authors I’ve read, and I absolutely love Halloween-themed tales. I enjoyed all of them, but of course I had my favorites.

The Visitor by Kalynn Bayron – I’ve read several books by this author, so I had a feeling her story would be at the top of my list. This one isn’t so much about the horror as it is a father and daughter celebrating a holiday loved by someone they lost. Still, there are some chilling moments.

Rocky Road with Caramel Drizzle by Kosoko Jackson – This is a powerful revenge story that gave me lots of feels. Sometimes humans are the real monsters.

Hey There, Demons by Tara Sims – Another story I knew I’d like based on other books I’ve read by this author. I love a haunted house/poltergeist story, and this one comes with a bonus demon. It’s actually more sweet than spooky. Who knew demons could draw you out of your shell?

While this is a horror anthology, none of the stories are really terrifying so don’t let that prevent you from reading it. It’s a nice collection that sets the mood for Halloween.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley.  Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
Was this review helpful?
It's been a while since I've read short stories, but this was exactly what I needed to get into the mood for the Halloween season! Featuring a star-studded collection of authors, it was hard to pick a favorite story, but Tran, Liu, and Sim's stories stood out to me, in particular. I'm not a huge fan of horror, in general, but YA horror is my speed. These stories managed to balance atmospheric spookiness with genuine creepiness, and I LOVED it. I look forward to recommending this nonstop to lovers of YA hoping to get into the mood for spooky season, but especially those who don't generally read long-form stories or novels.
Was this review helpful?
Entertaining collection of short stories. Most of these were new to me authors, so it was an interesting introduction to them. I really liked the diversity of the characters.
I'm just going to go through each story and give my reaction after finishing it.

Welcome to the Hotel Paranoia: This was creepy and disturbing, but a little underwhelming.
The Visitor: Mostly sad and a little heartbreaking.
A Brief Intermission: Reminded me of an old The Twilight Zone episode.
Guested: This one was kind of meh- it was confusing and I didn't feel like we got "enough".
Rocky Road with Caramel Drizzle: This one made me cry- sad and depressing.
The Three Phases of Ghost Hunting: Cute, but too short for me! This was probably my favorite, I could have read a whole book with this feel.
Nine Stops: My only reaction after finishing- blah. Had potential but just didn't give me enough.
Leyla Mendoza and the Last House on the Lane: This one was pretty deep but not really scary or creepy.
Anna: Woowoo, spooky!
Hey There, Demons: Cute. A longer version would make for a good movie.
Save Me From Myself: Well, I don't want to spoil the story.
Knickknack: This was a little anticlimactic, but okay.
Was this review helpful?
This collection has stories written by Vanessa Montalban; Kalynn Bayron; Rebecca Kim Wells; Kosoko Jackson; SMP Alex Brown; Trang Thanh Tran; Maya Gittelman; Em X. Liu; Shelly Page; Tara Sim; Ayida Shonibar; Ryan Douglas.

The collection opens with Vanessa Montalban's "Welcome to the Hotel Paranoia," where a Halloween party is being held in a hotel abandoned soon after it was built, the ground once sacred. If you think of the song "Hotel California" you might be prepared. From there, the hauntings and creatures are present, with a last minute twist to heighten the horrors. Not all of the characters are clueless victims, like in Alex Brown's "The Three Phases of Ghost Hunting," which I found absolutely adorable. Trang Thanh Tran wrote "Nine Stops," bringing me back to Queens and the crowded subways and the fears about the animals in the tunnels and what happens if someone is pushed. 

My favorite story is Maya Gittelman's "Leyla Mendoza and the Last House on the Lane." The terror that the town has for the weird house and its vines leaves Leyla entranced, as the person everyone expects to see isn't who Leyla is. It's a beautiful and hopeful story in the midst of potential horror, and gave me shivers in a good way. A close second is "Anna" by Emily Page, taking us back to ghosts, ouija boards and the risk of possession. Overall, this is a fun collection of Halloween stories starring various queer people. Sometimes they win, sometimes they lose, but the reader gets the experience of it all.
Was this review helpful?
In this anthology I found the thirteen queer black authors had written queer stories of different stories of horror.  The stories explore Halloween night for how it can be more than pumpkins and frights.  It is an amazing collection that has the scary experiences changes their lives forever.  One of my favorite story in the anthology is “A Brief Intermission” where the owner (Harry)of the drive-in gets hurt badly enough that he ends up in the hospital.  He tells his staff that he has to be at the drive-in tomorrow even though it is closed.  On Halloween night, the drive-in is always closed.  When he decides to let them do what he normally does, he explains what they must do exactly.  Does the staff do it?  Rusty does one thing he was not suppose to do.  What happens to Rusty?  I enjoyed it even though it wasn’t what I would say it’s not as scary as some of the other stories.  I liked the surprise in the story.  I found that the stories were all well written with their creepy, scary and horror filled themes.  It’s a perfect book to read on Halloween (as well as any other time).
Was this review helpful?