Review: Garden of Fiends: Tales of Addiction Horror [audiobook]

Garden of Fiends: Tales of Addiction Horror
By Jack Ketchum, Mark Matthews, Kealan Patrick Burke, John FD Taff, Glen Krisch, Max Booth III, Jessica McHugh
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

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]

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Michael Patrick Hicks

Michael Patrick Hicks is the author of the science fiction novels Convergence, an Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award 2013 Quarter-Finalist, and Emergence. His work has appeared in several anthologies, and he has written for the websites Graphic Novel Reporter and Audiobook Reviewer. In between compulsively buying books and adding titles that he does not have time for to his Netflix queue, he is hard at work on his next story.

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