Orphans of Bliss: Tales of Addiction Horror

Wicked Runs. May 2022. 192p. ed. by Mark Matthews. ISBN 9781736695043. pap. $14.99. HORROR
With his third addiction horror anthology (after Lullabies for Suffering and Garden of Fiends), Matthews offers 10 original stories with a breadth of terror as wide and as personal as the monster of addiction that seethes at the center of each. Cassandra Khaw writes a haunting tale of the isolation experienced by the child of a parent with addiction; S. A. Cosby takes a more literal approach, bringing meth addicts back from the dead, looking for one more hit; John FD Taff uses a strong narration from an unhinged hoarder to draw readers into a nightmare. But it is Christa Carmen’s heartbreakingly honest look at “recovery” that is the star here, a story that is sure to end up on many speculative fiction year-end award lists. All 10 are compelling horror stories on their own, but gathered together, they hold a power, one that will break readers, opening their eyes to a truth we are all facing, something the only the very best horror is capable of.
VERDICT A visceral depiction of the havoc, pain, and anguish of addiction, this triumphant conclusion to Matthews’s trilogy is essential for all collections. Anyone who has even been even tangentially touched by the monster of addiction will need access to these groundbreaking volumes and the lifeline they just may provide to the hopeless.
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