Lullabies for Suffering was my first venture into addiction horror, and I’ll definitely be seeking out more stories like those in this anthology. This book includes six novella/novelette-length tales, and it begins with a brief introduction by Mark Matthews, which provides the reader with a bit of information on the authors and their story topics. I thought that the introduction was a nice touch, as it gives the reader some background on addiction horror, and also prepares you for the story topics, should any of them be too sensitive.
I enjoyed all of these stories, so I’d like to share some thoughts on each:
SOMETIMES THEY SEE ME—Kealan Patrick Burke:
This was a great start to the anthology. It’s a creative and touching story from start to finish, with a stellar ending. Matthews mentioned that it “begs to be read twice”, and I have to agree with this.
This was actually my first introduction to this author’s writing, and I can see why her stories are so well-loved. It’s a heartbreaking tale about addiction and abuse, and how it affects the family, especially children. This one is all about human monsters—no supernatural or other aspects of horror needed to make this tale frightening.
This was also my introduction to Matthews’ writing, and it did not disappoint. It’s a powerful and memorable story, and by the time I reached the end I was adding all of Mark’s work to my wish list.
THE MELTING POINT OF MEAT—John F.D. Taff:
Another excellent offering from this author, who has been called, “The King of Pain” by others in the horror community. I was fully invested in the main character and couldn’t stop turning the pages on this one. I can’t wait to read more of his work.
BEYOND THE REEF—Gabino Iglesias:
This author’s writing is just beautiful—I found myself tearing up a few times early on in this story. There’s so much heart to this one, yet it’s also dark and gritty. I loved how the author portrayed the main character—we not only see his addictive behavior, but we also get a glimpse into the person behind the addiction, viewing the goodness that co-exists with the darkness. It’s a nerve-wracking tale with Lovecraftian vibes (I clearly need more of this in my life), and not to be missed.
LOVE IS A CREMATORIUM—Mercedes M. Yardley:
I won’t say too much, but this story made the whole anthology go out with a book-hangover inducing bang. A story about the lengths that some go to in order to save those they love, sometimes leading to their own addictions and demise in the process. This one left me in tears and yearning for more of Yardley’s writing. Thankfully, I had a collection of hers on my shelf, and immediately bumped it to the top of my pile.
This is a collection that will move any reader, and I’m sure each story will affect people differently. Despite the central theme, these stories vary in topic and scope of horror. If you’ve ever been personally affected by addiction in any way, you’ll find bits of each story that you can relate to. Like me, you might find that the words in these stories not only sting at times, but provide some sense of solace.