Vices and Virtues is a horror anthology edited by Ashley Franz Holzman and includes 16 stories that all tie into vices and virtues we have in society. I wasn’t expecting much from this anthology because I didn’t know any of the authors but was pleasantly surprised by the quality of work in this book. All of the stories in this book are like an emotional roller coaster with normal characters you can relate to put into extraordinary circumstances.
The first story did a great job of setting the tone for the whole book. The Girl Who Died by C.K. Walker is about a lonely girl who has no friends except the animals in the woods. One day she finds a dead animal in the woods that changes everything. We then see this girl go from never being noticed by anyone to being infamous all because she cared to much. The next story in the anthology is I Loved You So Much by Christopher Bloodworth which is in the same vein as the first one, a child who is a little lonely finds a new friend who ends up bringing destruction to the kid’s family. Both of these opening tales pack an emotional gory wallop and were a lot of fun to read.
One of my favorites in this book was Constance by Adam Grey, this was an emotional story about a confused older woman, a single mother and an innocent young child. Constance is an old woman living in an apartment building and working in an abortion clinic when she gets let go by the clinic she goes off the deep end and a young mother in need of a baby sitter makes the bad decision of leaving her child with her. This story was disturbing and at the same time really made you feel for the characters involved in it.
There is a great mix of stories here and one story that mixes Science Fiction and horror is The Lonely Man by Kristopher J. Patten. Set in the future we have a captain on a spaceship going to Mars on an exploratory mission. The last visitor to Mars was 120 years ago and since then on Earth there has been was, famine and several deaths. Much to the captain’s surprise when she reaches Mars she finds the last person to visit alive and well.What has kept this person alive so long and what plans does he have now that he has a way to get back to Earth. The plot of this story is very similar to the movie Space Vampires but has a much more personal feel to it and much scarier.
This anthology felt like it was a labor of love for all the authors and there wasn’t a bad story in the book.. Each story had a personal feel to it with one character going through something emotional that no one else could understand. The authors in this book seem to know what it takes to write a good story and they have put together a great book that mixes literary fiction with horror and Science fiction.