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Garden of Fiends: Tales of Addiction Horror

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The intoxication from a pint of vodka, the electric buzz from snorting cocaine, the warm embrace from shooting heroin--drinking and drugging provide the height of human experience. It's the promise of heaven on earth, but the hell that follows is a constant hunger, a cold emptiness. The craving to get high is an intense yearning not unlike that of any other blood-thirsty monster.

The best way to tell the truths of addiction is through a story, and dark truths such as these need a piece of horror to do them justice.

The stories inside feature the insidious nature of addiction told with compassion yet searing honesty. Drug overdoses are now the leading cause of accidental deaths, and some of the most incredible names in horror fiction have tackled this modern day epidemic.

A WICKED THIRST, by Kealan Patrick Burke

THE ONE IN THE MIDDLE, by Jessica McHugh


FIRST, JUST BITE A FINGER, by Johann Thorsson

LAST CALL, by John FD Taff


GARDEN OF FIENDS, by Mark Matthews

RETURNS, by Jack Ketchum

231 pages, Kindle Edition

First published April 12, 2017

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About the author

Mark Matthews

23 books367 followers
Mark Matthews is the author of novels such as On the Lips of Children, All Smoke Rises, and Milk-Blood, as well as the editor of Lullabies for Suffering and Garden of Fiends. In June of 2021, he was nominated for a Shirley Jackson Award. His newest work, The Hobgoblin of Little Minds, was published in January, 2021. He is a graduate of the University of Michigan and a licensed professional counselor who has worked in behavioral health for over 20 years. Reach him at WickedRunPress@gmail.com

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 85 reviews
Profile Image for Peter Topside.
Author 4 books677 followers
August 4, 2022
It's not very often when I pick a book of short stories. But this was a premise that had a lot of potential, and sure enough, it paid off. Each story looks at various addictions, ranging from heroin to cocaine to alcohol, and the suffering of the individuals plagued with these afflictions. And even more so, the impact it has on the people around them, from parents to coworkers, dealers, and significant others. The stories can be quite intense at times, but are equally potent in their desired effect on the reader. The standout to me happened to be the longest of the stories, in Garden of Fiends by Mark Matthews. I just felt like that particular tale covered everything in the most depth and made you really feel everything that Tara and Greg Snyder experienced. I loved the switching of the perspectives, too. A few of the other stories, mainly beyond the halfway point, dragged a little bit and didn't feel as high a quality of the earlier ones. And some of them were so short that I could barely figure things out before they were already over. But overall, this is a great collection that all fans of horror and anyone affected by addiction can appreciate.
Profile Image for Alejandro.
1,128 reviews3,552 followers
April 14, 2017
Excellent anthology about the horrors of the addiction.

The author sent me an Advanced Reading Copy of the book in exchange of a honest review.

The general rating is an average sum of the ratings given to each story contained in this book.

This is an anthology of horror stories with the common theme of addiction.


Rating: ***** (Five stars)

by Kealan Patrick Burke

This is one heck of story to start up the anthology!

An alcoholic man believes that he always need to be drunk (who doesn’t?) but this guy takes his need for drinking something to be drunk to an awful extreme.

I can assure you that you’ll be left with a chilling ending with the image that the story pictured you in your mind.


Rating: *** (Three stars)

by Jessica McHugh

In a far future, a new kind of drug causes havok taking society to an unforeseen twist.

This is a plot too dense to digest easily but certainly is quite imaginative.


Rating: ***** (Five stars)

by Max Booth III

This is one of the strongest narratives in the anthology.

This is a story that is as captivating as awful to read if you’re a man (you’ll understand what I mean if you ever read it), but certainly the captvating angle wins and you are amazed with it.

A man has a very singular sickness but maybe it isn’t as singular as he may thinks but once he thinks that it isn’t as bad as it seems, it gets worse and worse, even he doesn’t know if he can trust his senses, so maybe just a little of dope can make things better.


Rating: *** (Three stars)

by Johann Thorsson

The oldest tale in the field of addiction, that you can quit it whenever you want.


Rating: ***** (Five stars)

by John F.D. Taff

Oustanding story with a very imaginative development, where a drunk man gets the best ever gift to leave the habit for good, however, as you may guess, there is a catch, or maybe certain rules that even if you quit the booze, your body can be free but your mind is another thing.


Rating: **** (Four stars)

by Glen Krisch

A great tale with a heart-breaking finale.

A teenage girl can see demons, so she keeps on the move around the country (USA) but she founds out that her dad is in troubles and the kind of problems, only she is able to help him.

As the Lannisters, the demons always pay their debts…



Rating: ***** (Five stars)

by Mark Matthews

This is the story which gives title to the anthology and written by the editor of it too.

While certain key elements in the narrative can make you to think in books like Elizabeth is Missing and/or Detective Galileo: The Devotion of Suspect X, but certainly this is one original tale where the rythmn of the action and the developments of characters is thrilling and a worthy story to be the titular one in the anthology.


Rating: *** (Three stars)

by Jack Ketchum

Addiction doesn’t end with death, and a ghost came back for something that he misses a lot in the other side but you’ll never guess what is.

Addiction doesn’t mean only drugs.

Profile Image for Nancy.
557 reviews769 followers
May 6, 2017
Posted at Shelf Inflicted

As a person who has dabbled in illicit drugs and gone through periods of excessive alcohol use, I feel fortunate not to have succumbed to addiction like some of my friends and family members have. Even though I now drink little and haven’t touched drugs in years, I understand the allure of drugs and alcohol and how difficult it can be for the addict to stop using. While the decision to use drugs is mostly voluntary, for many people it takes a lot more than willpower to stop. That is why effective education about the dangers of drugs, prevention measures, and treatment for addicts and their family members is crucial. I feel for those who are coping with an addicted friend or family member. I’ve been there. It can wear you out emotionally and physically. A little empathy, however, goes a long way.

Thanks to Mark Matthews for providing me with this compelling, moving, and devastating collection of stories that compassionately portrays the effects of addiction on users and those who love them. It deeply unsettled me, invaded my dreams, and brought back some painful memories. Addiction is indeed a human tragedy. I agree with Mark when he says in the introduction, “The best way to tell the truths of addiction is through a story, and dark truths such as these need a piece of horror to do them justice.”

The stories:

★★★★★ A Wicked Thirst by Kealan Patrick Burke. I have a number of KPB’s books on my Kindle, but haven’t read them yet. There is no better time than now! Told from the alcoholic’s perspective, this reader felt his keen thirst and slow destruction. This story was so deeply affecting and powerful that I set aside my half-finished glass of wine.

★★★★★ The One in the Middle by Jessica McHugh. After finishing this amazing story, I learned it is an excerpt from The Green Kangaroos, which I promptly purchased and eagerly look forward to. In a near-future world, where Atlys is a popular street drug most effective when injected into the testicles and the rich have developed a taste for unusual dishes, we learn about Perry Samson and journey on his path toward ruination. This story left me feeling sad and horrified, yet needing to know the characters more and spending time in their world. Is it wrong for me to want to hug Perry? One of my favorite stories in this collection.

★★★ Everywhere You’ve Bled and Everywhere You Will by Max Booth III – Jeremy is a recovering heroin addict, but the people in his life and a series of bizarre events lead him to relapse. Blood I can handle, but spiders? Eek! I liked the energetic pace of this story and the dash of humor. Towards the end, it got a little too weird for me and failed to make a real impact.

★★★★ First, Just Bite a Finger by Johann Thorsson – When we think of addiction, we mostly think of drugs and alcohol. In this potent little flash fiction, we get to see how difficult it is to quit.

★★★★ Last Call by John F.D. Taff – Though Ted attends meetings, he is having a hard time staying sober. His well-meaning sponsor provides him with a quick cure. Ted learns the hard way that there are no shortcuts to sobriety. This story packed a punch and brought a tear to my eye.

★★★ Torment of the Fallen by Glen Krisch – Only Maggie’s online acquaintances on the paranormal boards know she can see demons. When a homeless man posts on a forum she visits regularly, Maggie travels hundreds of miles to see the father who abandoned her and help take away his demons. But demons always lie and never welsh on their deals.

★★★★★ Garden of Fiends by Mark Matthews – This story is told in alternating perspectives, by Tara Snyder, a heroin addict and Gregory Snyder, the father who tries desperately to protect her. There is an interesting cast of characters that help add depth to the story and magnify difficulties faced by the characters. There is Tara’s addict boyfriend, Brett, Gregory’s wife, Heather, who lovingly tends the urban garden that feeds her soul and all the neighbors, and the homeless man, Lorenzo. Gregory’s good intentions go awry. Addiction affects everyone who cares about the addict. A heartbreaking story and one of my favorites in this collection.

★★★★ Returns by Jack Ketchum – I love ghost stories and this one is so poignant and humane, not at all the gorefest I would expect from Jack Ketchum. Jill’s alcoholism starts gradually and worsens when her husband of six years dies after getting hit by a cab. Dying is far less painful than the ghostly visit to his wife and seven-year-old cat.

**ARC provided by author in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Char.
1,637 reviews1,489 followers
April 18, 2017
Garden of Fiends is an unflinching and intense collection of addiction stories from some of the best authors in the business. It is not for the weak of heart, but neither is addiction. Let's take a brief, but closer look at the tales within:

A Wicked Thirst by Kealan Patrick Burke: Alcoholism is no joke and many find that they cannot quit on their own and seek out help from programs like AA. This story does not shy away from the absolute power that is addiction and then it slays the reader with its powerful ending. 5*

The One in the Middle by Jessica McHugh: This tale was twisted as twisted can be. (At least I thought so until I read Max Booth III's story, but more on that in a moment.) A hard, direct look at the downward spiral of addiction and the other crimes associated with it. After all, drugs often cost an arm and a leg. 4*

Everywhere You've Bled and Everywhere You Will by Max Booth III: Combine a heroin addiction, blood everywhere and spiders and what have you got? You have this graphic and dare I say... disgusting?, tale of heroin dependence. You'll need a strong stomach for this one, but I think it's worth it! 5*

Last Call by John FD Taff: This was another story of alcoholism. This one shows us that there are no shortcuts to sober. 4*

Torment of the Fallen by Glen Krisch: Demons abound in this story and not all of them are drug related. 3.5*

Garden of Fiends by Mark Matthews: A tale about how addiction affects everyone surrounding the addict. It floods out like the ripples on a calm lake, as do the effects of eating anything from this particular garden. 5*

Returns by Jack Ketchum: here we have another tale of alcoholism, but with the twist of also involving a ghost. Short and to the point, this one punched me right in the gut. 5*

To be all technical about it, my ratings add up to a 4.5, but after thinking about this collection overnight, I think it adds up to more than the sum of its parts, so 5 fat stars it is!

My highest recommendation to those readers who are strong of heart!

Available now here: Garden of Fiends: Tales of Addiction Horror

*I was provided a free e-ARC in exchange for my honest review. This is it*
**Further, I consider Mark Matthews a friend, albeit online only. This did not affect the content of my review.*
Profile Image for Laurie  (barksbooks).
1,726 reviews673 followers
April 18, 2017
This is a truly excellent collection of short stories all about the struggle of addiction. All have a horror twist and there isn’t a dud in the bunch. If I didn’t have to work, feed and clean up after people all the live-long day, I would’ve finished it in one sitting because it’s that good. I’m not going to rate them. Just know that they’re all around the 4 1/2 – 5 star range which totally averages out to a 5, right?

A Wicked Thirst by Kealan Patrick Burke

Things get off to a dark start (and stay there, really) with this story about a man caught in the throes of alcohol addiction. His life is a wreck, he is haunted by his mistakes, by his never-ending thirst and perhaps by something supernatural. It’s unflinching and you really do feel for this mess of a man as he is helpless to stop the all-consuming thirst . . .

The One in the Middle by Jessica McHugh

In a not too distant future, a man has lost the love of his life due to his addiction. This only feeds the vicious cycle as he longs for drugs to take away his emotional pain. He lives in a desperate world where the wealthy pay big bucks for something only the drug addicted can offer them. But he’s not desperate enough to sink to that, or is he? This is apparently an excerpt from a longer work called Green Kangaroos, which I now need because I am the nosey sort, but the story feels complete enough here. This one is dirty and brutal and harrowing.

Garden of Fiends by Mark Mathews

Oh how I loved this one. It’s haunting and terrifying and all around awesome. Tara is a recovering addict and every day is a struggle to remain sober. She has a family who loves her and will do anything to keep her alive and I do mean anything. This is a story about an addict, a garden that grows terrible fruit and the damage it all does to one once close-knit, loving family. It’s sad and horrible and beautifully written.

First, Bit Just a Finger by Johann Thorsson

This is a little snippet of a story that started with a party trick that turns one woman on to a new obsession that’ll put some images in your head you may not easily forget. Eww this was disturbing! So fantastically disturbing and I wanted more!

Last Call by John FD. Taff

Ted is a slave to his addiction. When he shows up loaded at his latest AA meeting his sponsor is forced to take drastic measures and hands him a business card, telling him to go to the address on the card and ask for “the last bottle he’ll ever need”. He gets it and gets his life together but the past will come back to haunt in a most terribly heartbreaking way.

Torment of the Fallen by Glen Krisch

Maggie is 15, a runaway, sees demons and sets out on a course of disaster to locate her father. This was like watching an extremely dark episode of Supernatural with a surprise ending and I adored it.

Everywhere You’ve Bled and Everywhere You Will Be by Max Booth III

This one starts out in a most startling manner. Jeremy arises after a saucy night to discover that blood is oozing out of a place it shouldn't be oozing out of. He tries to shrug it off as a result of overuse but it’s difficult to shrug off something like that, especially when it doesn’t stop oozing! Uh oh.

This story is darkly comical and is laced with my favorite kind of twisted humor. It’s probably my favorite because of that. Sex, drugs, cravings, spiders and madness fueled by drugs and nightmare images? What’s not to like? It’s also gory and bloody and so very messy. I loved it all.

Returns by Jack Ketchum

Awww, this was a short and beautifully told ghost story about a depressed alcoholic, a man and a cat ending with a Ketchum edge. It’s a little scary to me that I just so happened to take this particular progress photo when sitting down to read this collection!

This book was a very cohesive collection and I am so glad I changed my stance on short story collections (due to burn out) and gave this one a try!

I received an ARC from the publisher.
Profile Image for Mark Matthews.
Author 23 books367 followers
March 6, 2017
I'm the editor, and a contributing author, and I've rated this book 5 stars with plenty of bias (but I would not have put it out had I thought it deserved less.) Your mileage may vary. As a dark fiction writer and recovering addict, this collection has been a dream of mine. Here's a lengthy breakdown of what I liked about it:

A Wicked Thirst– Kealan Patrick Burke
The alcoholic in “A Wicked Thirst” has an unquenchable thirst for drink. His incessant drinking has caused a trail of devastation in his path. It follows him like a specter, and the specter’s thirst is just as strong. Tooth decay is a sign of a rotting spirit, and it fits so perfect on this character, for alcoholics, like the one in “A Wicked Thirst,” often rot from the inside out. This story packs a powerful opening punch. I’ve read much of Kealan’s work (KIN, to me, is a lesson in how to write horror) and this is quite simply vintage KPB.

The One in the Middle<– Jessica McHugh
I researched addiction-themed horror novels before putting together Garden of Fiends, and one novel blew my freaking mind - The Green Kangaroos, from Jessica McHugh. “The One in the Middle” is an excerpt but also serves as a stand-alone story. It’s a speculative story about a culture that revolves around a heroin-like substance called Atlys (works best when injected into the testicles). My only fear is that after reading this story, the readers’ eyeballs may be too bloody to read any further. One day, when there is finally enough time, I want to read every single word McHugh has ever published.

Everywhere You’ve Bled and Everywhere You Will – Max Booth III
Speaking of blood…. Max Booth’s story is about a recovering heroin addict who relapses after a bizarre turn of events and an infatuated (and quite creepy) girlfriend. It includes a bleeding penis, spiders, and Max’s unmistakable wit. His clever turn of phrase and unique perspective is clear in his social media posts, in his LitReactor articles, and in his recent Darkfuse release, “The Nightly Disease”. Once I started reading Everywhere You’ve Bled, I could not stop. I kept smiling in my head and felt that warm glow you get when you know you’re reading something special.

First, Just Bite A Finger- Johann Thorsson
Johann is from Iceland. That makes him automatically complex and more interesting and cooler than you or I. This flash fiction piece is a lightning shot across the page. An addict keeps convincing herself she can quit her bizarre addiction - “She could quit if she wanted to and she did, and went until Thursday evening”. While my plan for Garden of Fiends was longer works, this submission was ‘un-turn-downable’.

Torment of the Fallen– Glen Krisch
Scarecrows, rats, and syringes are the ingredients for this Glen Krisch 'Halloween and Heroin' story. A young girl, who has been nicknamed ‘JennyHalloween’ in the dark corners of internet chatrooms, has lived as an outcast all her life for she can see demons. Her father has left her, but she hears rumors of a man who can see demons and goes on a quest to find him, guarding against hope that this indeed is her father. When you see real demons, sometimes the demon of addiction is all that will hold them back.

John FD Taff- Last Call
Garden of Fiends would not have existed without John’s support and I’m thrilled that he submitted a story. John’s been called ‘The King Of Pain’, not because he writes gore, but because he is in touch with the nuances of human emotion. Last Call is about the type of alcoholic I am quite familiar with – one who frequents AA meetings, can’t stay sober, and often shows up drunk. His sponsor offers him one last chance at sobriety by visiting the most unusual of places: a liquor store. Of course, shortcuts and half-measures for sobriety don’t always stick. (Spoiler-free comments end here.)

Garden of Fiends-Mark Matthews
My own story in the collection. It takes place in the Milk-Blood universe, and is a homage to all the parents of addicts who will do everything they can to save their children from addiction. During my work as a substance abuse therapist, I’ve seen their faces. I felt the intensity of their suffering. A parent of an addict lives in constant fear of getting a phone call from the hospital to come identify their child’s body. One such father is Gregory Snyder. After his daughter, Tara, keeps relapsing on Heroin, he takes drastic measures to protect her. He thinks he’s cut out her disease, but he’s only made it spread. Pretty soon, there are addicts all over the city of Detroit trying to get his daughter high.

Returns-Jack Ketchum
Ketchum didn’t write this short story to serve as the perfect ending to Garden of Fiends, but he might as well have. This is a sweet, somber story about a Ghost visiting his alcoholic ex-lover, watching her drink herself to death, and trying to find his purpose for his return to his old life. Ketchum is perhaps the shiniest example of how horror writers are in touch with the fragile human spirit. The tragic pain of what it means to be human is present in Ketchum’s stories, and it is on full display in Returns. I’m so grateful to have another one of my writing heroes included in Garden of Fiends.

*There you go, my incredibly biased review of the stories inside and my reason for five stars.*
Profile Image for Bill.
1,548 reviews109 followers
June 10, 2017
A very well done and put together collection of addiction horror from a truly stellar line up of authors.

Each one of these stories has a very unique flavor and voice.

The one thing they do have in common, is the horror that is the terrifying and heartbreaking world of addiction.

Come on in and pick your poison. You can’t go wrong with any of these tales.

An easy 4.5 Stars that I am rounding up to 5 because these wildly different tales gel so well together and that is really quite rare in most themed collections.
Profile Image for Jen.
610 reviews261 followers
May 10, 2017


Garden of Fiends is a really solid collection. I love the format of having such variable length stories, too. Two of the stories are novella length which is fantastic. The first novella is from Mark Matthews (also titled Garden of Fiends). There are so many layers to this story of a man trying to save his daughter from addiction.

The second novella is from Max Booth III.

Spiders, y'all. You haven't read a spider story like this one!

There are also short stories by Jessican McHugh (a stand alone excerpt from one of her novels), John FD Taff, Glen Krisch, Kealan Patrick Burke, and Jack Ketchum.

These are top-notch authors, and their stories are everything you would expect them to be.

There is also a flash fiction piece from Johann Thorsson which was the perfect offset to some of the longer works in the anthology.

I don't think this is a collection for everyone (nor do I think it tries to be). I do, however, think the audience it is intended for will love it. If you are a fan of any of these authors, I can't imagine that you would be disappointed.

Garden of Fiends takes on the horrors of addiction at full throttle, and I highly recommend it.

4.5 stars
Profile Image for Martha.
35 reviews1 follower
June 2, 2017
Great collection

I really enjoyed this variety of stories from creepy to sad to downright disturbing. If you like horror with an addictive twist, check these stories out.
Profile Image for Nev Murray.
448 reviews31 followers
August 1, 2017
"Be warned that if you pick this book up, you may be a bit uncomfortable with the stories. Also, be warned though that if you do not pick this book up, you will be missing out on an absolute treat."

See here for the full review:

Garden of Fiends

Profile Image for Michael Hicks.
Author 35 books434 followers
June 22, 2017
My original Garden of Fiends: Tales of Addiction Horror audiobook review and many others can be found at Audiobook Reviewer.

Garden of Fiends: Tales of Addiction Horror is a dark read, at times brutally so. This a collection of stories about drugs and drug abuse, about damaged souls, rotted minds, and ruined bodies. Although there are ghosts and demons, the most malevolent and creeping evil comes in the form of all too real human weaknesses as the characters within this anthology seek to escape the personal horrors of their lives through drugs and alcohol.

This is a very strong and engaging anthology with a specific focus, and while I won’t discuss each individual story here, I will note some of my favorites. Bram Stoker Award-winning author Kealan Patrick Burke kicks off the anthology in grand fashion with “A Wicked Thirst,” an excellent piece about alcoholism, first dates, and past regrets. “The One In The Middle” by Jessica McHugh plumbs the pitch-black depths of addiction and the lengths users will go to in order to score a fix in a near-future tale of drugs, self-harm, and cannibalism. I hadn’t read McHugh previously, but this uncompromisingly dark, in-your-face story sold me on her talents and I’ll be checking out more of her works in the future. Max Booth III delivers an engaging, twisted, and fairly uncomfortable read with “Everywhere You’ve Bled and Everywhere You Will.” This story delivers the horror goods with an engaging and wince-inducing premise of heroine addiction and spiders. The novella-length title story, “Garden of Fiends,” by Mark Matthews is a rich tale of addiction and possession with its focus on a Detroit family coping with their daughter’s drug habit. By turns gut-wrenching and heartbreaking, it packs a heck of a punch and a few surprises. As with McHugh, I hadn’t read Matthews’ previous books but will certainly be keeping an eye out for more of his work, and I already have his Milk Blood series (which “Garden of Fiends” ties into but certainly works well on its own) loaded up on my Kindle.

Rick Gregory provides a solid narration of some very, very difficult material. While Gregory’s reading is mostly a smooth and easy listen, the bleak nature of each individual story makes this an unlikely candidate for a relaxing binge. Most likely, you’ll want to take a breather in between these tales and maybe step outside for some fresh air. The production quality is terrific with no distractions or audible glitches to mar the recording.

In his introduction, Matthews states that the aim of this anthology was to give readers a better understanding of the plight of the addict, and Garden of Fiends is a resounding success on that front. The demons faced within these pages are of an entirely human sort, their potential to harm any one of us all too real, and the insidious nature of their threat far more potent than any zombie, vampire, or ghoul. We could all do with a bit more empathy toward and understanding of the sinister nature of addiction’s ease and the difficulties of recovery. This audiobook was a shocking and eye-opening work of horror, and a necessary reminder that every individual is fighting their own deeply personal battles.

[Note: Audiobook provided for review by the audiobookreviewer.com]
Profile Image for ~ Lei ~ Reading Is An Adventure ~.
1,167 reviews242 followers
May 18, 2017
★★★★☆½ ~ 4.5 Stars
Excellent anthology - interesting takes on addiction and survival, or not.

I have to confess ~ Everywhere You’ve Bled and Everywhere You Will and Garden of Fiends were the stars for me, but there wasn't a dud in the bunch, even the shorty First, Just Bite a Finger packs a [body] punch.
Profile Image for Michael Adams.
379 reviews16 followers
September 5, 2018
Very solid anthology of weird horror stories centered around addiction and alcoholism. Standouts were the disturbing Everywhere You’ve Bled and Everywhere You Will by Max Booth III, The One in the Middle by Jessica McHugh, a story which actually made me ache with it’s descriptions of painful injections and self-mutilation, and the hauntingly dark Garden of Fiends by Mark Matthews, a story that twined love, horror, and an urban street-justice myth into a very uniquely strange horror story. Definitely not one for the squeamish, these are dark, harrowing stories, but very well done for those who can handle the darkness and desperation of the addict.
Profile Image for John J Questore.
Author 2 books24 followers
April 18, 2017
Mark Matthews – if you are unfamiliar with that name, go right now to Amazon and check him out. Go. I mean right now. Don’t worry, I’ll wait. Plus, this is a written review so it’ll still be here when you get back.

You’re back? Good. Now let me tell you a few things about Mark. Mark is the epitome of the American success story: Typical family man with a wife and two daughters. Hockey fan (extra points in my book). A steady job, with a great writing career to boot. College graduate, and licensed professional councilor. But none of this is what makes him a success. The fact that he was an addict, now clean for 21 years, makes him a success. The fact that he came up from the depths of hell that is addiction to not only obtain those things above, but also to be able to run in 13 marathons, makes him a success. Now, if only he’d become a New Jersey Devils fan, he’d be perfect (LOL!).

I was afforded the opportunity to get an ARC of “Garden of Fiends: Tales of Addiction Horror”, an anthology that Mark put together – and what a collection. He managed to collect some of the best writers in the business, and had them write a story based around the horrors of addiction. Other than being a pack-rat (my Monopoly collection alone sits at 85 different editions), I don’t have much experience in the way of addiction. I do have many friends who are recovering addicts, and one friend who I’m sure never recovered (I haven’t seen him in almost 30 years, but the last I saw he was drinking after-shave for the alcohol) so I am a little familiar with the struggles. But this book shows the true horrors; much scarier than Frankenstein’s monster, or a made up boogieman.

Be forewarned, some of these stories are not for the faint of heart.

So, here’s a brief review of the stories contained within:

1) A WICKED THIRST, by Kealan Patrick Burke – Mark kicks this thing off with, not with a bang, but with an explosion. What happens when the thirst for alcohol grabs hold of you and won’t let go? It becomes a thirst for more. Again, great way to start this off.

2) THE ONE IN THE MIDDLE, by Jessica McHugh – Ok, I have to say this one was a bit confusing at the beginning, but stick with it. It does start to make sense the more you get into it. There’s a futuristic drug out there that is tearing through society with some nasty consequences.

3) GARDEN OF FIENDS, by Mark Matthews – One of the perks to editing a collection of stories is that you get to include your own. But Mark’s story was one of my favorites in the collection. Just how far will a father go to save his daughter from killing herself with drugs? To what depth will he sink? You may not look at a Farmer’s Market in the same way after this one.

4) FIRST, JUST BITE A FINGER, by Johann Thorsson – My least favorite of the bunch, but in any anthology there’s bound to be one. I get the theme of “I can stop whenever I want”, I just didn’t dig the story.

5) LAST CALL, by John FD Taff – Another story about alcoholism. Ted wants to stop drinking, but the mind is weak. His sponsor gives him a gift that cleans him up and makes him sober, without the craving anymore. But there are dire consequences to the gift that may just be worse than the addiction.

6) TORMENT OF THE FALLEN, by Glen Krisch – Maggie is a girl who can see demons, a gift (curse) that she has always had. When she goes cross-country to save her father, she learns that debts have to be paid.

7) EVERYWHERE YOU'VE BLED AND EVERYWHERE YOU WILL, by Max Booth III – Scared of spiders? This one will make you terrified of them. Thankfully I’m not, but this story still scared the hell out of me. Jeremy starts bleeding from, well, let’s just say from a place a man doesn’t want to bleed from. And it just gets worse form there. Can drugs make it better?

8) RETURNS, by Jack Ketchum – Jack’s name is synonymous with horror, and a great way to close this anthology. This was a very sad story, especially if you are a cat lover. A man comes back from the dead to comfort his friend in their time of need.

I want to personally thank Mark for giving me the opportunity to read and review this book. The fact that the stories are all based in something that is very real – the drug problem we have as a society – makes the stories within all the more horrific. I commend him on his work as an addiction councilor, and hope to see his stories become more main-stream so that kids may think twice before picking up a needle, or pipe.
Profile Image for Helen.
547 reviews33 followers
November 10, 2017
Oh, this is nasty!
First of all - penis spiders.
In fact, I think I'll leave it there. Not sure how I can follow that up, really. Go read other people's reviews. The ones who can get past the wang arachnids.
Profile Image for Kelly| Just Another Horror Reader .
434 reviews292 followers
May 20, 2020
I thoroughly enjoyed this horror anthology about the struggles of drug addiction. My favorite stories were A Wicked Thirst by Kealan Patrick Burke and Garden of Fiends by Mark Matthews.
Fair warning, these are dark and tragic tales but if you’re not squeamish definitely pick this one up.
Profile Image for Latasha.
1,282 reviews371 followers
August 12, 2017
** I received this audio book in exchange for a honest review**

first of all, the production of this audio book was perfect. I have no complaints on that part. The author, Mark Matthew narrates. I know a guy that says authors shouldn't do that. I do agree with him on this one. Mark spoke clear and just fine but there was just something missing. I couldn't get into the stories. Maybe because I've never been a addict? I don't know but I couldn't connect with them. None of the stories were bad but my favorite was A WICKED THIRST, by Kealan Patrick Burke. I would say if this sounds the tiniest bit interesting to you, you should go for it but maybe read it instead of listening.
Profile Image for Heidi Ward.
349 reviews76 followers
November 18, 2019
This one is not for the faint of heart or the body-horror averse, that's for sure. Graphic, fantastic depictions of the horrors addiction inflicts on on its victims and those closest to them. When I say "graphic," I'm not kidding. Some of these stories send the gag meter straight into the red and keep it there; others are subtler, but each one is a window into the hellish landscape an addict faces, clean or sober.

For my money, "The One in the Middle," by Jessica McHugh, a near-future nightmare about the food chain of the drug underworld, is the standout, but all the contributors offer something fit to disturb. I will say that Max Booth III's entry, "Everywhere You've Bled and Everywhere You Will," contains some of the most enthusiastically repulsive body horror I've read in awhile. Uh, kudos?

As we know, addiction is a brutal disease, and these are cutting, oozing, bleeding, brutal takes on the monster. I can't say Garden of Fiends is a pleasant read, but it certainly does the job it was built for. 4 stars.
Profile Image for Karrie.
194 reviews8 followers
August 27, 2017
You definitely want to check out these books. I have read two in the series and they are terrific! If I say much, I will be doing spoilers as well as TMPI...
Profile Image for Barb.
687 reviews36 followers
June 14, 2019
I almost set this book aside a few times because it has some very dark, depressing, and disgusting parts! But, if you don’t mind things like that, these were all excellent stories. The story the book was named after was really good. “First, just bite a finger” I probably could’ve skipped. Same with “Everywhere you’ve bled...” Still, I’m glad I finished. I don’t feel permanently scarred but I wouldn’t recommend reading this over lunch if you’ve got a weak stomach.
Profile Image for Olivia Beaudry.
1 review4 followers
December 22, 2017
Unexpectedly awesome

This book was way different than I thought it was going to be. It reminds me of Stephen King books, which are my favorite. I recommend this book if you like those types of twisted stories.
Profile Image for Debbi Smith.
408 reviews5 followers
April 7, 2022
Scary book but not for the usual reasons

I'm not sure at all how to review this book. The stories are quite good, the authors are greàt. If you have someone in your life with addiction problems this book may break your heart.
Read with care
Profile Image for Shell.
561 reviews12 followers
March 24, 2018
Absorbing, horrifying, heart-rending. I would love it if this became a series.
Profile Image for Elena Alvarez Dosil.
731 reviews11 followers
June 6, 2017
Review originally published at: http://www.lomeraniel.com/audiobookre...

I received a copy of this book in audio format from the narrator in exchange for an honest review.

This is an anthology about a different kind of horror. It is not the explicit horror we find sometimes in books, but the real one caused by addiction. Sometimes these monsters can be scarier than the ones in our imagination.

A Wicked Thirst by Kealan Patrick Burke
A man and his insatiable thirst for alcohol will push him to do the unthinkable. It is a rather dark story with powerful images.

The One in the Middle by Jessica McHugh
In a near future a new kind of drug is causing havoc in society. This tale was imaginative and complex.

Garden of Fiends by Mark Mathews
This one is longer than the others. Tara is recovering from addiction thanks to her loving family. But her boyfriend is released from prison and things start to go south. She will be tempted, her father's trust issues will push him to do unforgivable things and her mother will drastically change. A vivid example of how drugs can destroy a family. Sad and tragic, and with well written characters.

First, Bit Just a Finger by Johann Thorsson
This story is a good metaphor for drug use. It has powerful and very clear images about how one can end up if taking this route.

Last Call by John FD. Taff
Ted is unable to give up alcohol, so his AA sponsor will offer a miracle bottle that will end this hell forever. The only problem is that Ted's past will catch up with him.

Torment of the Fallen by Glen Krisch
Maggie is on the run but she is trying to locate her father. She should not have, it was too late.

Everywhere You’ve Bled and Everywhere You Will Be by Max Booth III
A man starts bleeding from his penis, and scared of what it might mean, he decides to take refuge in the old good drugs. I really liked this one. It has good images and great characters.

Returns by Jack Ketchum
This story is about a ghost who returns with a purpose, he will just have to figure it out.

Some of these stories are quite weird, but the good kind of weird. They will allow us to visit the parallel universe of drug addicts but without the dangers of using. A bit gore sometimes, but well written stories with powerful images that will haunt the listener for some time after finishing the book.

Rick Gregory did a very good job narrating this stories. He transmitted well the characters emotions and his pace and tone kept my attention at all times.
Profile Image for Shadow Girl.
705 reviews66 followers
July 10, 2017
* The reality of addiction is darker than any fiction. *
"Drinking and drugging provide the height of human experience.
It's the promise of heaven on earth, but the hell that follows is a constant hunger, a cold emptiness."

Before I read even one story in this 'reality horror' anthology - Mark Matthews had me crying so hard that I could barely see. He presents an addiction anthology with compassion, casting no aspersions on anyone. I wan't to meet Mark Matthews, and give him the tightest hug ever.
"Imagine yourself drowning and being told not to swim to the surface for air.
Obsessions should be so mild."

I'll have my full review posted HERE
soon - I was going over my notes for this review, and I'm 'emotional' again...

shortlink: https://goo.gl/HGRbsX
Profile Image for David Bridges.
249 reviews14 followers
February 3, 2018
A superb anthology that is a perfect blend of horror and addiction. As a horror fan, a psychiatric nurse, that has spent a lot of time working in the community with people who are dually diagnosed, and human that struggles with his own compulsions I figured this book would speak to me. It did. The line up in this antho consists of some of the best yet most slept on writers in indie horror.

The book opens up with a great story by Kealan Patrick Burke about a man haunted by his sponsor. The One In The Middle by Jessica Mchugh is a great story that is an abbreviated version of her novel Green Kangaroos. I have read both and they are both great. One of the best stories that encompasses the motif of the book is the self-titled novella Garden Of Fiends by Mark Matthews. It is a true horror story about how drugs can destroy a family and how much power addiction has over its victims. I have a couple of more Mark Matthews’ books I plan to check out now. John F.D. Taff has a great short and Max Booth 3’s Everywhere You’ve Bled And Everywhere You Will is what I have grown to love about his work which is basically some fucked up shit happening to fucked up people. The book ends with a Jack Ketchum (RIP) story that I think cat lovers will enjoy.

I cannot recommend this one enough. The horror of life and the horrors of addiction merge into this great collection that will scare you and tug at your heart simultaneously.
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