If Only a Heart and Other Tales of Terror

This title was previously available on NetGalley and is now archived.

Buy this Book on

You must sign in to see if this title is available for request.
Send NetGalley books directly to your Kindle or Kindle app

To read on a Kindle or Kindle app, please add kindle@netgalley.com as an approved email address to receive files in your Amazon account. Click here for step-by-step instructions.
Also find your Kindle email address within your Amazon account, and enter it here.
Pub Date 03 Oct 2022 | Archive Date 30 Sep 2022

Talking about this book? Use #IfOnlyaHeartandOtherTalesofTerror #NetGalley. More hashtag tips!


An unlikely friendship is born in the red clay dirt of a trailer park. Two latchkey kids who will do anything to hold onto one other, despite the consequences.

A disabled boy and his sister move into a house by the sea, one haunted by a demon living in the walls.

A father on a camping trip in a remote section of Appalachia wakes to find his daughter missing, taken by something not quite human.

A traumatized teenager stumbles across a strange slide at a waterpark—one only he can see.

If Only a Heart and Other Tales of Terror is a visceral collection of thirteen stories that explore what happens when we open ourselves to others and dare to let them in. There are monsters on these pages, yes, ones whose teeth cut deep, but never as deep as the teeth of the monsters in the mirror.

An unlikely friendship is born in the red clay dirt of a trailer park. Two latchkey kids who will do anything to hold onto one other, despite the consequences.

A disabled boy and his sister move...

Advance Praise

"“If Only A Heart is a series of rich and vivid nightmares. Caleb Stephens powerfully weaves inhuman terrors into all-too-human tales of fraught relationships and personal suffering. Gorgeous prose. A breathtaking collection.” — Christi Nogle, author of Beulah

“If Only A Heart, at its core, has many stories that focus on family—found families, chosen yet unwanted families, families that are not actually family—and drags us on journeys that are filled with tension and often also with betrayal. A chilling, heart-wrenching collection perfect for reading under the covers—but don’t forget to come up for air.” — Ai Jiang, author of Linghun

“Stephens is an emotional torture artist: he’s jabbed my heart full of hooks, secured them with string, then played upon my fears like some pernicious puppeteer.” — Solomon Forse, editor of HOWL Society

“A cinematic roller-coaster of frightening fun. With steep drops into gory terror that leave you breathless, sharp curves that whiplash between heart and horror, Caleb Stephens’ debut collection is an absolute thrill.” — C.B. Jones, author of The Rules of the Road"

"“If Only A Heart is a series of rich and vivid nightmares. Caleb Stephens powerfully weaves inhuman terrors into all-too-human tales of fraught relationships and personal suffering. Gorgeous prose...

Available Editions

ISBN 9798985871333
PRICE $0.99 (USD)

Available on NetGalley

NetGalley Shelf App (EPUB)
Send to Kindle (EPUB)
Download (EPUB)

Average rating from 32 members

Featured Reviews

I really enjoyed this collection of tales of terror, each story was really well done. I loved the pictures in the book and that they were a great introduction to each story. The characters were what I was hoping for and I had so much fun and terror reading each one. My favorite stories were STAY OUT OF THE SWAMP, JASPER DOUCET and YOU ALWAYS WANTED A GARDEN.

"Jasper chuckled and waved at the bartender for another. “Shit, kid, your ma’s dead. Lord knows I loved my sister, but that woman could have lived a little more. Now, raise your damn glass so I can toast her proper.” That did the trick. Dylan lifted the tumbler and Jasper clinked it. “To Lisette. A finer woman, Louisiana has never known.”

Was this review helpful?

An awesome collection of short stories that explore loss, grieving and love but in the most eery way. If you’re a fan of creepy af short stories, this’ll be perfect for you! I also love the added artwork throughout. Adds to the creep factor and I loved the art style itself.

Thanks to NetGalley for a copy of this book. I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Was this review helpful?

I loved this anthology. Each story was fresh and full of nightmare fuel.
My favorite had to be The Wallpaper Man with The Crowing in a close second.

The Wallpaper Man follows a young man suffering through hardships, the loss of his mother, which in turn cause the loss of his father, because he struggles to find meaning in life.
They eventually move, fresh start, but the Wallpaper Man is still there. Asking Nick for a name. A name to sate it’s hunger, feeding off the fear and pain of its meal. But for a long time Nick refuses.
Until he meets Roger, a nasty kid, that makes his life miserable. He gives the Wallpaper Man his name, and Roger is no longer a problem.
Then, Nick is faced with a choice, the Wallpaper man ravenous, enjoys the scent of Nick’s younger sister, Piper,
Piper is now plagued by their father and his nightly visits. He dooms one to save the other., right up until the end. He does everything he can to save Piper.

That’s just one of several unique tales in this book. Each offering different types of tales, each gut-wrenching, each new for the genre.

Definitely a great book, and would recommend to someone who loves the dark, scary things in life.

Was this review helpful?

If Only a Heart takes you on some harrowing adventures, accompanied with disturbing illustrations.

My favourite tales were: “Don’t let her in”, “Welcome to Camp Klehani”, and “The Atoll”.

Like the author mentions in his acknowledgments, I too read the hobbit at a young age. It changed my life and I read and read and read, finding whole new worlds opening up before me. Caleb’s tales were so well written I could easily immerse myself into each one.

It was an absolute dark delight to read this collection of stories.

Thank you to NetGalley, the author, and BooksGoSocial for a copy.

Was this review helpful?

This book is one twisted piece of work. From monstrous grandmas to corpse is getting revenge every story it’s like a nightmare you really don’t want to have. I loved his writing style it was a new and refreshing style I have never seen before and I loved it. I wanted to listen to this as I fell asleep but there was no sleeping what I started Reading it. Almost every story would be worth buying on its own. I received this book from NetGalleyShelf and a publisher but I am leaving this review voluntarily please forgive any mistakes as I am blind and dictate my review.

Was this review helpful?

These 13 tales of horror are dark, gritty, and original. Combining things that go bump in the night with the human condition, creating feelings of fear, sadness, grief, and regret. Sinister wall paper, a fat camp for children in the 80’s, a gunslinger meeting his end, and witches from medieval times, just a few examples of the range Mr. Stephens brings in this collection. If you’re a fan of horror short stories this one is for you.

Was this review helpful?

If only a heart
Definitely check the trigger warnings before reading!!

The collection of stories and illustrations at the start of them were great.

My favourites were

The wallpaper man

A wallpaper talon extends from the wall, dipping gently to twirl a lock of pipers hair.
“I like this one. Is this to be my gift? Is this to be my next name?”

The backward man

“But that wasn’t the worst part. No, the worst part always came after I saw him.”

Thank you netgalley for the Arc

Was this review helpful?

A new to me author and one I can't wait to read more from!  This collection of thirteen tales offers a great variety, with timelines from the 1300's to modern day, and stories involving psychological, physical, and paranormal horrors.  Many of the stories incorporate the theme of loss at different levels and in often macabre and sinister ways.  This is a definite must to put on your Halloween to-read list!

Was this review helpful?

If Only A Heart..and Other Tales of Terror
by Caleb Stephens
due for release October, 2, 2022
#netgalley #IfOnlyAHeart

Whats most terrifying to me is the horror we can feel inside, not the horror we can see. What is most scarey comes from within. These 13 short stories explore human nature, and had a lasting effect on me, the tension and fear was intensely engaging. Each story explores psychological terror that reaches into your psyche and touches that spot of tension that makes horror so good. Well written, hard to put down and even harder to forget. If your lloking for short stories that reach deep with characters that make you feel their fear, I suggest this very creepy novel. The Wallpaper Man, I Will Wait For You, Welcom To Camp Klehani and You Have To Let Him Burn were my favorites. The illlustrations were scary and perfect for each story. Excellent collection of terrifying stories Id highly recommend.
Huge thanks to #netgalley, #BooksGoSocial and the author, Caleb Stephens for sending this e-book for review.

Was this review helpful?

A collection of creepy, gory tails. These include ghosts, shadows and the unknown. A short collection, so quickly read and a good, creepy read for Halloween!

Was this review helpful?

Honestly i've enjoyed this one quite a bit, with it's dark factor and interesting stories it made a very good Sunday read. The best part was definitely the writing as i've found myself being immersed deeply and equally with every story, it paints such a nice picture of the horrifying circumstances in which these characters found themselves and i literally couldn't stop until the end. The four star rating is purely because i felt that all of the stories needed to be longer, i couldn't properly connect with them since they ended right when i started to form that special bond with them. However, it just might be a 'me' thing and i wouldn't wonder if the length of the stories hasn't affected anyone that much. I recommend this to every horror fan wholeheartedly.

Was this review helpful?

It's been a long time since I have read something that caught my attention from the first line. Even when I put the book down, I was thinking about the story I was reading. Because see, this is skillful writing. Almost master-like, the way some images, descriptions, and comparisons were written, it gave us a very precise and clear idea of the emotions and pain the characters were going through. And we felt them too. This is really the type of reading that has me wondering if I should call the writer and ask him if he is alright and if he needs a hug or some warm beverage to appease his soul.

I also enjoyed the fact that also the themes were very similar from story to story, it did not feel redundant or annoying quite the opposite. each story felt unique, in its pain and its thoughts of love.

great read.

Was this review helpful?

This was a fascinating collection of horror and we have seen a dearth of story collections of this type in the past few years...Thank God we still have these twisted minds writing to feed our humdrum lives. After finishing this book, I was inspired to look farther for additional classics, and wound up ordering some older Ellen Datlow collections that I read man years ago. Thank you Net Galley for allowing me the opportunity to preview this book!

Was this review helpful?

The art for each story is absolutely chilling. Stories are pretty good, enough of a variety to keep me interested throughout the whole collection.

Was this review helpful?

I usually don't read many anthologies, but the cover really pulled me in to reading this one. I am so happy I did because I absolutely loved these stories. Each story was so well written and entertaining. If I had to pick a favorite I would say, Don't Let Her In, had to be it. I love a good creepy granny and it delivered.

I really enjoyed how each story gave us a different kind of horror. While all of them were creepy, some were gut wrenching, and I enjoyed the mix. The writing was very good and easy to digest, making this seem like a quick read. I devoured these stories, and I will definitely be on the lookout for more of Caleb Stevens work.

I highly recommend this book to readers who enjoy dark, twisted, tales that are both fun and creepy.

Was this review helpful?

I found myself covering my mouth several times while reading this book. I did not want to get the attention of the things on the page.
I could feel the panic of the characters as the author found imaginative ways to bring about their end. I could feel the suffering of the characters guilt, grief, and loss. I could feel the dread at what they had become. Most importantly was that every story made me experience what the characters were going through. It is hard to do that I one short story let alone all of them.
Caleb Stephens has no boundaries with his unique and twisted imagination and I am here for it. So many great stories, my heart was ripped out, chewed up, and spit on the floor with this one. It was also broken multiple times, damn you Caleb.

Was this review helpful?

This was a thrilling ride that centred around families, suffering and the heart-wrenching emotions that encompass us.

This collection of 13 stories is a daring collection of life and death with enthralling writing and creepy descriptive context.

If horror stories are your thing, then this is the anthology for you.

Was this review helpful?

I came for the cover and stayed for the stories.
Clearly, the artwork is just…..ah, Beautiful! Absolutely stunning!
Did the stories live up to the promise? Definitely. A really engrossing book. The short stories really appeal to me at the moment as I’m currently going through a bit of a reading “blip”.
I’m struggling to concentrate on anything for a period of time, so I’m reading but a lot slower than usual. With this book, it was perfect. Each time I finished a story, I felt like I’d accomplished something and enjoyed doing it.
Would I recommend this book? Again, it’s a yes from me. From the front cover onwards, it’s fab!
Thank you to the author, the publisher and Netgalley for my arc.

Was this review helpful?

*I recieved an Advanced Readers Copy of this collection in return for an honest review. Thank you to the author, publisher, and NetGalley.*

I was attracted to this collection because of the cover and description, but I found within something that felt similar to the way "Scary Stories to Tell In The Dark" felt when I was 8 or 9 reading it the first time. Like peeking into the tormented souls of others to feel the horrors of their own lives, it was raw and open and honest in a refreshing way, and I loved the campfire feel of many of the stories.

I rated this four stars because some of the stories were slow-going for me, but they were all worth it upon completion. I highly recommend this collection for anyone interested in the horror short-story format.

Was this review helpful?

A collection of short stories that are unique, fun and frightening. His 13 horror stories offer something different each time. “The Wallpaper Man” is the first short story. It’s about a family that moves into a Victorian type house. There appears to be something in the wallpaper that is seen by the boy. Tension builds up as the story continues. When the boy notices that the something is after his younger sister,. The boy wonders if there is some way to stop it. Is there?

Each story by the author is exquisite with many dark twists that will keep whoever reads them on the edge of their seat.. I enjoyed each story as it surprised me how well written the stories were. It was so rewarding to read each one. I hated it to end. The horror in each story is perfect!

Was this review helpful?

This was a really fun collection of scary short stories! There were a few that I loved more than the rest, as is typical for short story collections, but I think Camp Khelani and The Wallpaper Man take the cake for me. Each story was unique, had excellent creep factor, and kept me entertained. I highly recommend this spine tingling read for spooky season, and horror lovers alike.

Was this review helpful?

This was a fantastic collection of short horror stories. Stephens writes relatable characters and puts them in horror-filled situations. It hooks from the first story and pulls the reader through a collection of easy to picture situations that fills them with dread. I can't wait to pick up a paperback copy later today!

I was given an ARC from NetGalley and would like to thank the author, publisher and Netgalley for the opportunity to read it. I am voluntarily leaving my unbiased review.

Was this review helpful?

Readers who liked this book also liked: