The debut collection from Janine Pipe lives up to its title, with a variety of horror stories taking in vampires, werewolves, ghosts and even a good old ‘90s-esque erotic thriller. While some of the tropes on display here are familiar, it is the author’s obvious love and enthusiasm for the genre that lifts them above those confines.
Pipe also has a strong knack for writing young people and vividly paints her characters with memorable and realistic dialogue. So even thought there were some stories where the ending didn’t quite land, I came away with a good sense of the people in the stories.
Some of the highlights for me included:
Footsteps: This collection kicks off with an original spin on a werewolf tale with a group of women on a camping trip & a beast that is attracted to a very specific type of blood.
I Want To Break Free: We get two kinds of monster in this tale of two halves where the twist is revealed half way through. A fun little monster mash, cleverly told.
Addicted to Love: This one is a gloriously sleazy sex & murder fest. Think Basic Instinct with cameras & yep, there’s a twist!
Lost In The Shadows: A creepy tale set at the drive-in which I recognised from the finalists in the Crystal Lake Shallow Waters competition from a while back (which I also had a story in). Short & sweet (with some mystery meat!)
It’s A Sin: Starts as a fairly standard ghost story but builds to a shocking revelation & then an unexpected gut-punch, whereby the villains get punished in an unusual & tragic way.
My only complaints with this collection is the unneeded introductions that only serve to tell us what we’re about to read, and the author’s notes after each story which breaks the illusion somewhat. I feel these work better at the end of the book, to preserve the magic of the storytelling.
But reading these stories, you can tell the author is having a ball writing these tales and her glee is infectious. If you’re looking for some quick bursts of enjoyable horror with some memorable characters, Tainted: Twisted Tales is well worth a read.
4 out of 5.