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Anatomy of Death edited by Mark West

Hersham Horror Books presents 5 more original stories from the minds of Stephen Bacon, Johnny Mains, John Llewellyn Probert, Stephen Volk and Mark West. The third anthology in our PentAnth range brings you five more chilling tales that all have their roots in the gloriously lurid style of 1970s horror. Anatomy of Death (In Five Sleazy Pieces) 

So what gruesome delights can we expect from this short story anthology?

Pseudonym by Stephen Bacon – A young man is given the opportunity to meet one of his horror idols, a notoriously reclusive author, but what is it that the old man is hiding? I rather like the tone that this sets for the rest of the collection. This is the subtlest of stories and had me reminiscing about my own introduction to the horror genre many years ago. I loved seeing the mention of Fear magazine, I remember reading it back in the day. It’s a bit sneaky really. I was successfully lulled into a false sense of security by this only for the next story to start messing with my brain.

The Cannibal Whores of Effingham by Johnny Mains -A megalomaniacal Hollywood star with seriously homicidal tendencies, meets his match when he visits the ladies of the night who ply their trade in Effingham. This is just balls-to-the-wall crazy. Liberally blood soaked with over the top violence and gore, nothing is left to the imagination. Things get weirder and weirder, it’s almost like some sort of psychedelic trip. I imagine Herschel Gordon Lewis would love it. I’m always impressed when writing can manage to be both bizarre, funny and shocking all at the same moment.

Out of Fashion by John Llewellyn Probert – Last year I read The Nine Deaths of Dr Valentine and thoroughly enjoyed it. Mr Llewellyn Probert’s writing is marvellously evocative stuff. This particular story has a Victorian steampunky/sci-fi feel and ends on a suitably downbeat note, I do so love a good apocalypse. Following the latest fashion has certainly never appeared more dangerous. I felt like I was watching a classic episode of the Hammer House of Horror TV series while reading this.

The Arse-Licker by Stephen Volk  – One man’s journey from the metaphorical to the literal. I’ll say no more than that, for fear of spoiling things. Suffice to say, this story is as provocative as it is darkly funny. In an anthology that promises sleazy highlights Volk’s story receives the prize for delivering what may be the sleaziest.

The Glamour Girl Murders by Mark West – The final tale takes the reader right to heart of swinging seventies London at the time of the notorious “Glamour Girl Murders”. Who is behind these brutal slayings? Bob Parker is determined to find out. Mark West always manages to very effectively capture any time period that he writes about and he’s done it again here. The streets of the city come alive in all their sinister glory. There is a monster on the prowl with a taste for the beautiful. Lovely.

This collection is a wonderful homage to all the horror it pays tribute to. Sometimes violent, often gory and in-your-face, this can be unforgiving stuff. You can rest assured Anatomy of Death is not going to be everyone’s cup of tea. I have no doubt that some will consider it politically incorrect or perhaps even potentially offensive. Personally, I think it does quite an impressive job of dancing right up to the boundaries of good taste but never actually crosses the line. I’d recommend this to anyone who enjoys his or her horror unashamedly raw.

Anatomy of Death is published by Hersham Horror and is available now.

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