Ok, so we know I love horror. I’ve said it a million times. So when I saw Suburban Monsters, a horror short story collection by Christopher Hawkins on NetGalley, I had to give it a try. Unfortunately, I wasn’t as thrilled with the collection as I’d hoped. Read on to see my thoughts on the various stories.
I received this book for free from NetGalley to facilitate my review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Published by Coronis Publishing on 03/07/2023
Genres: Fiction / Fantasy / Dark Fantasy, Fiction / Horror, Fiction / Short Stories (single author)
Format: ARC, eBook
The house at the end of the block with the overgrown lawn. The darkened store window in a forgotten corner of the shopping mall. The colorful characters of a children's TV show. What dark secrets do they hide?
From award-winning author Christopher Hawkins come thirteen tales of the horrors lurking right next door.
- A shut-in sets out to make a new life for himself by losing weight at the point of a scalpel.
- A store clerk with a mannequin obsession hides a macabre and tragic secret.
- A master thief tries for one last score in a house that doesn't want him to leave.
- Two friends learn the hard way that having superpowers doesn't always make you a hero. It might just make you a monster.
- A lonely painter finds freedom with the help of something lurking beneath the ocean waves.
At turns whimsical and somber but always unsettling, this debut collection of short horror stories is essential reading from a rising voice in dark literary fiction.
Suburban Monsters – The Stories
This story isn’t too terribly scary or creepy. It’s more sad than anything, with just a touch of horror at the very end of the story. It only takes a few minutes to read (less than 30) and it’s a nice story to start Suburban Monsters off. I rather liked it.
Moonrise Over Water With Sargassum, 2022. Oil on Canvas
Again, this story in Suburban Monsters isn’t terribly scary or creepy. It’s more sad and perhaps a cautionary tale of what can happen when a husband is so controlling that the quiet wife decides she’s had enough. As with “Green Eyes”, this one doesn’t get to the actual horror until the very end. Up until then, you could honestly believe this was a set-up scene for a mystery/thriller novel. Very good story.
Storms of the Present
This one was more creepy than the other two. It was also more unsettling. It kind of gives a new perspective on being overweight/obese, albeit a supernatural perspective. The story was good though, a bit gross in parts, but good. I enjoyed this one. The true horror part, again, was towards the end, but I think that is just a signature for this author, and not a bad one.
This one was OK. Wondering what someone’s superhero origin story would be and then turning it into horror is kind of a cool concept to be honest. I enjoyed this story a lot. The ending was one of the best things about the story because it was just so unexpected. This one you got the horror aspect a bit sooner than the previous stories, but it was still more towards the end.
Ok, this one was weird and creepy. This one was pretty creepy from the start, which isn’t the norm for this author’s stories from what I’ve read. But it was a good story. If you’re weirded out or creeped out by dolls/mannequins, you might not want to read this one, but if those things don’t bother you, I’d definitely recommend giving this story a try.
This one was a story that if you’re not a fan of clowns, I don’t recommend reading. It’s weird, creepy, and the ending is just… what the hell? You’ll never look at clowns the same again, I guarantee you that. It was an OK story, but seriously… clowns… (shudders). (Side Note: This is where Suburban Monsters started to go downhill for me.)
The Stumblybum Imperative
This one was just plain weird from the start. A story about a kids’ show that turns out to be something horrific. I wasn’t overly impressed with the story as I felt it drug on and on, only to come to a rather boring ending. Definitely my least favorite so far – but wait, there will be ones I like even less in Suburban Monsters.
So this story wasn’t terrible but it wasn’t great either. It didn’t have a horror or scary component to it, just a supernatural one. Just a boy getting back at his bullies by less than natural means. Nothing special. I mean, it isn’t the worst story in the book but it isn’t the best either. I liked it well enough.
This one was at least a bit more entertaining. I will say that I’d have liked it to be longer, perhaps given more instances of the thumb giving the guy hell. It seems to me that this is almost a take on idle hands but maybe not. I actually liked this one quite a bit, which is interesting since the second half of Suburban Monsters hasn’t really been to my liking.
I’m not entirely sure what I’m supposed to think of this one. It is at once ridiculous and disgusting. Nothing about it makes much sense, particularly the ending. I just can’t understand what I’m supposed to do with this one or how I’m supposed to process it. Definitely a contender for least favorite.
Ten and Gone
Another story in Suburban Monsters relying on the supernatural to provide horror, yet failing to provide anything that was even mildly creepy or scary. A house that tries to eat intruders might be relatively unique, but it certainly wasn’t creepy or scary. However, the story in and of itself wasn’t terrible, it just needs a little tweaking to make it a bit better.
This one was one of the better stories. A very long notice of terminating employment, although there is a twist at the end you won’t be expecting. Finally, a story in the second part of the book that wasn’t completely mediocre.
A Candle for the Birthday Boy
The title doesn’t make a lick of sense but that’s OK, because the story isn’t that great. A kid’s birthday party turns dark when the piñata is broken open. The story reads like a bad dream. It just kind of fell flat to me, mostly due to it taking a while to get to the point. It does have an interesting plot twist at the end though. Not the worst story but not the best either.
While there are some good stories in Suburban Monsters, the majority of the book just falls flat for me. I don’t see the horror elements in most of the stories, although that could be due to my pretty much jaded nature when it comes to horror – I don’t scare easily when it comes to horror and I find most horror movies and books to not be nearly as scary as people think1I find it hilarious that Stephen King won’t read his own books because they’ll scare him into having nightmares because while I love his work, it’s not scary if you ask me..