The Hungry Dead is a collection of poetry and short stories that mostly hovers around the title’s stated theme. The excellent and evocative cover image shows a slightly decayed – yet no less well turned-out – young woman, a plate of brains in front of her, gold-plated knife and fork in hand. She’s daintily hoisting a forkful, lips parted in anticipation. It sets just the right tone for the collection. By way of full disclosure, I would add that a number of contributors to The Hungry Dead — including the publisher — are friends of mine, so take that for what it’s worth.
Of the fiction, several pieces are standouts: I readily devoured Stephen D. Sullivan’s “Tricks & Treats”. Exploring the origins of Halloween legends, it provides a creeping chill to freeze the blood. J. Robert King’s “Unlife on the Mississippi” brings humor and a clever concept to a rustic, American vampire tale. A Backwoods young man living in the Mississippi basin near Hannibal, Missouri discovers he’s suddenly become a vampire. He soon learns the how of it, and realizes the old adage that with great power comes great responsibility. Who knew it was so easy to create vampires?
Like all anthologies, this one is no less a mixed bag, though I can’t actually say there were any bad works here – only that some were more striking and thought provoking to me than others. The Hungry Dead is well worth picking up for horror fans of all stripes. There is very little here that will challenge the reader unduly, and a fair amount of reward to be had from its consumption.
[4 of 5 Stars!]