American Cannibal edited by Rebecca Rowland
Maenad Press (March 2023)
352 pages; $19.99 hardback; $9.99 e-book
Reviewed by Dave Simms
This is what’s needed right now: a wonderfully brutal anthology about cannibalism in American history. At first, readers may feel a touch of reluctance due to the subject matter. My advice? DO NOT HESITATE.
These stories, chosen with exquisite taste by editor Rebecca Rowland, are all about the story and characters as the history of this country frames some truly unique tales. I’m not one for gore and this anthology, again, focuses on the true horror: human behavior and the awful acts people inflict on each other before the blood begins to spill.
Yet you know you are headed into lands not meant for the faint-hearted when Wrath James White writes the foreword. That’s a good thing.
The good news? There’s not a clunker in here. That’s unusual for a themed anthology. You can tell that the authors had fun with the stories between the covers.
The bad news? I’m only focusing on a few favorites here and these change with each re-read. The following stories gnaw at me more than the others and have just a little more bite — for me. Yet depending on your appetite, there’s a course for everyone here, from the creepy to horrific to satirical to just plain outrageous. That’s kind of expected with Jeff Strand in the table of contents (a compliment, as always).
“And The Window Was Boarded Shut” by Elizabeth Massie explores a dark, but highly entertaining view of suffrage. Easily the creepiest of the bunch.
Gwendolyn Kiste’s “The Hungry Wives of Bleak Street” explores the ugly side of the suburbs where everything is too tidy, too organized, and the happy, behaved wives follow a tradition that one woman decides should change.
Clay McCleod Chapman tackles PTSD in “All Ears.”
Owl Goingback — what couldn’t there be to like about “Wendigo Dreams”? It’s about Wendigos. That’s all reader need to know.
In EV Knight’s “The Flannigan Cure, ” the notion of the phrase “physician, heal thyself” is taken to a gruesome but beautiful story of addiction.
This only scratches the surface and readers of horror will find something that satiates each craving they might have.
This anthology rates a full fork, knife, spoon, and bib for a full course experience.