State of Horror: Illinois Review


I know it has been a while since I have blogged, and I have no excuse.  Despite I have fallen out of the loop, the show must go on, and I wanted my first blog to be on a new audiobook that I stumbled across.  Without giving much away, I hope this review captures the flavor of what the anthology State of Horror: Illinois provided me.

State of Horror: Illinois is a collection of stories constructed with a variety of thirteen authors.  This anthology is for adults and is full of imaginative stories to chill the senses.  If you do as myself, and purchase the audiobook version, be sure to enjoy the tales late at night to receive the full effect of the narrator’s diverse voice acting.

Out Come the Wolves by Claire C. Riley is an atmospheric zombie tale.  With the living dead aside, the author dives into a character study, which regards innocence and insanity. This story does swap perspectives midway through, but that is necessary in regards to the story’s twist. Overall, the characters were fun and the prose kept me wanting more.

Ritter House by A, Lopez Jr. is a bloodcurdling, psychological installment. We are introduced to a best-selling horror author who decides to stay overnight in a house that is plagued with ghosts and demons. Although he survives the night, the repercussions of what he experiences leaves the reader with a bone chilling conclusion.

Chicago Mike by Della West is a gritty throwback to 1980’s slasher horror. In the mood of great literary successes such as: Silence of the Lambs or American Psycho, the serial killer portrayed in this story feels like he has been constructed from real life monsters.  While paying homage to classic horror movie gems, such as: Driller Killer and Maniac, this story gives you a whole new reason to stay at home and read, where it is safe, instead of going out alone.

The Ghosts of Morse by Julianne Snow is a fast-paced ghost story.  The subjects of this tale regard kids who dare to test out a local legend about a haunted train. This story had a good flow and was to the point, yet it was detailed enough to raise a few hairs.

Drowning in the Hazel by Eli Constant is a unique slow burner, but once the action starts, it doesn’t let up. In this contribution, the reader is introduced to a creature, which reminds me of some distant relative belonging to the mermaid family.  I’m still not 100% sure what this beast was, but that’s part of its charm. This story is what nightmares are made of if you enjoy swimming.

In Chicago, the Dish is so Deep, No One Can Hear You Scream by Frank J. Edler is an interesting take on haunted food. Despite the serious nature of its plot, this story reflects the style and dark humor of Joe Hill and Christopher Moore.  There was a refreshing bizarro vibe to this one, which made it stand out perfectly.

Chicago Blues by Stuart Conover is a bleak and desolate story, featuring a virus that destroys everything in its path. The characters are well developed and the author is able to provide cringing moments without utilizing gore.

My Porcelain Monster by Eric I. Dean is a psychological tale about a boy who finds his father dead on the toilet. Since this life altering discovery, he is haunted with grotesque nightmares of the toilet eating and torturing his father. These nightmares continue into his adulthood, until he can no longer take it.  To bring an end to his trauma, he returns to his childhood home to overcome his troubles.  This was a fun story to experience: the concept was original, there was depth in its message, and the descriptions were equivalent to an early Stephen King.

Piasa Remains by Herika R. Raymer is a fun fantasy/horror story about a century old creature. This tale has a nice mixture of whimsical, horror and action. The creativity put into the mythological creature meshes well with the current day setting and characters.  At the end of this contribution, I was left feeling like I had experienced a literature piece by David Lynch, as its flow is hypnotic and taunting.

Vishew Springs by DJ Tyrer is a whirlwind of horrors.  As Shirley Jackson once said, “some houses are born bad” and in Vishnu Springs some attractions are born bad.  This is a haunting tale about a foreigner exploring an infamous area.  Quickly, there is regret, as the evil comes out to play in a carnival of horrors.

Dying Days: Great Mistakes by Armand Rosamilia is an action-packed zombie story set from a military perspective. The characters were likable, realistic and well developed. The action that took place in this story transcends the reader to a visual level of excitement, which allows them to become quickly invested in the story.

What’s Eating the Mob by P. David Puffinburger is a classic mafia story, but with zombies. After mobsters are ordered to pick up barrels of a deadly substance, they discover that the people killed by this chemical are transformed into zombies. This is an original take on the genre and the only story in the trilogy that actually gave me the willies, it reminds me of how Stephen king crafted Salem’s lot.

Seek No Longer the Beloved by Jay Seate is one of the most intense stories in this anthology.  Not since Peter Starub’s book Ghost Story, have I been so unnerved by a tale of paranormal activity. With the literary richness of paranormal classics, this story shines like a specter in the night. I would save this one for a dark, rainy night.

Although I enjoyed all of the stories, every collection is to have its ups and downs.  The stories that I found most frightening are:

Out Come the Wolves

Ritter House

Chicago Mike

Drowning in the Hazel

In Chicago, the Dish is so Deep, No One Can Hear You Scream

My Porcelain Monster

What’s Eating the Mob

Seek No Longer the Beloved


The stories I found to be intriguing but not frightening are:

Piasa Remains

Vishew Springs

Dying Days: Great Mistakes


The stories that I found to be okay:

Chicago Blues

Ghosts of Morse

From a scale of 1 to 10, 1 being the worst, 10 being the best, I give this anthology an 8 ½.  The audiobook experience of the narrator deserves a 9.  The overall experience between the tales and the audio wraps everything up to be a firm 9 ½ .

Purchase your copy here!


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