First things first, just for purposes of clarity, I received an electronic pre publication copy of this from the author in exchange for a fair and honest review.
Question: What is the first thing you think of when the word 'monster' is used? Is it the old black and white hammer films? Video nasties of the 80's? Or something else completely? Whatever it may be there will be something in this collection for you.
There are 18 stories here, 17 reprinted from other sources and one original to this collection, covering 1999 to the present. Some I have read before but most are new to me - and each one I enjoyed for it's own reasons.
The thing I find with anthologies (and this is just a personal view) is that sometimes the stories can run into one another, especially if the focus is just the one author. Thankfully this is not the case here. There is enough diversity to keep you hooked for "just one more" and you can't always be sure where that "just one more" will be taking you. There is humour here, in places, but the darkness is never far away. A prime example being 'Guilty Pleasures' which tells of a Guilt Demon visiting people with, as you might expect, guilty secrets, whispering in their ears. The demon itself came across, to me, as a more of a cheeky rascal type than an evil hellspawn but the ending certainly dried up the chuckles. 'Guilty Pleasures' is followed by 'Speaking in Tongues' which, again, had a vein of humour in the way the lead character interacts, unwillingly, with people but the reasoning behind it all is Body Horror at its' best (see what I mean about diversity).
There is 'old school' horror here (Nightlife, Dracula in Love), Body Horror (the aforementioned Speaking in Tongues, The Disease), and all points in-between. Plenty for everyone - and cover art by Clive Barker!
If I were to have one complaint it is that there is one story of Mr Kane's that I would have included in this collection that is not here, but that is just my opinion. I think it is safe to say Paul Kane is one of my 'go to' guys for horror shorts and this is a worthy addition to his oeuvre. If you've read his works before you will want to own this and if you are new to him this is as good a starting point as any.