For those of us who love horror, watching films and TV shows just isn’t enough. We also need the stimulation that comes from reading it. That’s how many of us developed a love for the genre as kids—by reading books by R.L. Stein and then Darren Shan and then graduating to Edgar Allen Poe, Shirley Jackson, Stephen King, Kathe Koja…the list goes on and on.
There are hundreds of horror authors to read, both famous and not, so it can be daunting to venture into new territory. Anthologies are the perfect solution to this, especially since they often narrow down the focus even further than just “horror.” These days, thanks to the Almighty Internet, you can pick up nearly anything, from a collection of apocalyptic horror written by BIPOC authors to one of dark science fiction by disabled authors.
I recently had the pleasure of reading the newly-released anthology UNBURIED: A COLLECTION OF QUEER DARK FICTION. As the title suggests, UNBURIED is a volume of short stories centering queer characters and written by authors from all across the LGBTQ+ spectrum. The stories range from tales of ghosts and haunted houses to dystopian science fiction and from sorcery to monsters both human and non. They vary in length and tone, as well as in time period and setting.
Edited by author Rebecca Rowland and published by Dark Ink Books, UNBURIED highlights the works of authors Felice Picano, Laramie Dean, Chistina Delia, Thomas Kearnes, Robert P. Ottone, George Daniel Lea, Greg Herren, Laura DeHaan, Sarah Lyn Eaton, Veronica Zora Kirin, Elin Olausson, Daniel M. Jaffe, M.C. St. John, J. Askew, Azzurra Nox, and Louis Stephenson.
I wanted to read and review UNBURIED because, first and foremost, I love horror fiction. There’s nothing quite like reading a story and letting your imagination run wild as you visualize the scenes laid out before you. For me, reading horror has always left more of an impression than watching it. Reading takes longer; the plot has more time to sink into your mind word by word, giving you the opportunity to ruminate on every detail, and allowing the tale to haunt you for years to come.
The stories in UNBURIED do not disappoint.
While the subgenres and styles differ greatly, each entry in this anthology is gripping, well-written, and ultimately horrifying. While I liked all of the stories in Unburied, I would have to say that my favorites—you know, the ones that made me bury myself in my blankets in the dead of summer—were Night Follows Night (Greg Herren), When the Dust Settles (Sarah Lyn Eaton), Razor, Knife (Elin Olausson), The Other Boy (Laramie Dean), and 1,000 Tiny Cuts (Veronica Zora Kirin).
The other reason I wanted to read this anthology was that it was entirely written by queer authors and stars a cast of queer characters. I’m a lesbian horror writer; of course, I want to see good representation of my community, both on and off the page (not to imply that there isn’t already a bevy of LGBTQ+ horror authors—Clive Barker, Poppy Z. Brite, and Caitlín R. Kiernan, hello).
When I was reading (and then re-reading) Unburied, the thing that I appreciated most about the stories, beyond the delightfully creepy content, was the fact that they aren’t just about LGBTQ people being LGBTQ. Sure, queerness plays a part in the tales, but that’s rarely the primary focus. The characters are multifaceted and complex, damaged and disturbed. They have traumas that go beyond homophobia, transphobia, and misogyny. Their stories aren’t just about self-discovery and seeking acceptance.
That’s what makes anthologies like UNBURIED so important. Representation isn’t just writing a queer person and giving them a by-the-numbers story saturated with tropes about hate crimes and coming out. Representation requires the author to have an intimate understanding of being part of a certain group and how it simultaneously doesn’t define your entire identity while also informing almost every aspect of your life and how you interact with the rest of the world.
The authors published in UNBURIED tell their stories so successfully partly because they have this intimate understanding. But more importantly, the stories are so effective because the authors are damn good at weaving tales of terror.
UNBURIED: A COLLECTION OF QUEER DARK FICTION is now available to be purchased, read, and feared.