American Cannibal edited by Rebecca Rowland is an anthology of gag-inducing horror centered around the darkness of humankind and cannibalism.
Let’s dive in!
My Thoughts on American Cannibal edited by Rebecca Rowland
It took me a very long time to get through this one. I had some health stuff going on where nausea was a constant, and picking up this book to see what new tale would make me gag was as dread-inducing as it was intriguing to see what was next.
My favorites from the collection include:
- The Lost Diary by Candace Nola
- Wendigo Dreams by Owl Goingback
- The Hungry Wives Of Bleak Street by Gwendolyn Kiste
- When A Stranger Bites by L. Stephenson
Per usual, here are my notes on each tale.
Foreword by Wrath James White –
What an opening by Wrath! My goodness, the focus on humans being terrible humans totally spooked me. I mean, this line summarizes it nicely:
“There is no more terrifying a creature than mankind, the apex predator.”
The Lost Diary by Candace Nola –
A collection of diary entries shows the slow and painful winter that this group of people tries to survive. When the hunters of the group, which doubles as the burial group, suddenly start coming back with strange meat, one man is determined to learn what they are up to. But will he be able to live with what he learns?
This story of desperation and survival left me absolutely chilled. The description of the settlement and the horrible conditions was chilling enough, but then when their people start dying off, that only added to it.
Carnivore by Jeremy Megargee –
When this mother-daughter duo loses their group after wandering off the Oregon Trail, they are left to fend for themselves. Luckily, this mother is willing to do whatever it takes to keep her daughter alive.
I was so anxious reading this one. I definitely thought there was going to be another character that came in, but I was so very wrong. The path this story took was heartbreakingly awful.
Gold Rush by V. Castro –
When a man wanders into town, a woman with an intense role in the town is immediately drawn to him. Soon, the two realize they’re a perfect pair.
I was so nervous this one was going to go sideways. But I loved this story path!
Ozark Devil Cult Blues by Jon Steffens –
Traveling back to apologize to an old friend, this man is shocked to see how well his old friend is getting on. Eating the best steak of his life, the two seem to be getting along nicely. But then his friend shows him the kitchens…
The change in atmosphere here was so intense! As a reader, you can feel the chill.
Wendigo Dreams by Owl Goingback –
Out in the woods looking for game to bring back to his family, this man returns empty-handed, but with something much more dangerous.
I’m a big fan of stories set in the woods. Add in a wendigo and all the extra bloodshed?! I was hooked.
Mastication Station by Clint Smith –
After a dam breaks, leaving the town in disaster, a man learns about another rescue mission. Intrigued by the woman’s beauty, he takes off. But will his quest to save the girl work out?
The description of the poor town after the incident was heartbreaking. Then in the other setting, I was on edge.
And The Window Was Boarded Shut by Elizabeth Maddie –
After being arrested after a protest to gain the right to vote, these two sisters are separated from the others and kept in a room. One man oversees their corridor and he’s not happy with their “attitudes.”
What a dark and heartbreaking tale! So much unfairness all bundled into one.
The Flannigan Cure by EV Knight –
When a man forced to dry out is put under extreme pressure, he realizes he needs a little something to take the edge off. That something leads to something else, and before he knows it, he’s stuck trying to get more.
What a wild tale of addiction! This had so many tense moments. This is a main character that is sure easy to hate.
Papa’s Night (Or The Short, Happy Life Of Elena De Hoyos) by Douglas Ford –
Approached after a night of drinking, this man goes with another man back to a house where a story is promised. The main character ignores all the red flags but certainly gets a story.
So glad the writer chose a man for this main character. Way too many red flags as a woman!
The Hungry Wives Of Bleak Street by Gwendolyn Kiste –
Forced to give bits of their flesh every day, some of these women are beginning to tire of this way of living.
What a horribly unsettling premise. These poor women. But a great reflection on what women go through for appearances and family.
Texas Is The Reason by Brain Asman –
A man determined to get answers travels a risky road, not seeing the danger until he was in too deep. Will he be able to save himself?
The tension and gritty feel to this one, my goodness!
Tender Farm by C.V. Hunt –
I was warned by a close friend, who was also reading this book at the same time, to skip this one for now based on some things I have going on in my personal life. I will be back sometime next year hopefully!
When A Stranger Bites by L. Stephenson –
While waiting for her daughter to return from the movies to watch the moon landing together, this mother goes about her evening chores. Suddenly faced with a strange man in her yard, she’s forced to confront him when her daughter finally arrives home.
My goodness, the TENSION in this one! The entire time the woman was in her backyard, I kept thinking; hurry up, hurry up, hurry up! This one was terrifying!
All Ears by Clay McLeod Chapman –
A boy who just wants to make his father happy is drawn into the darkness after his father returns from the war, broken.
What a heartbreaking tale! And that ending!
Seasons Out Of Time by Jeffrey Ford –
Following a man determined to get people to his home to eat them, we watch as things build slowly.
This was terrifying. How nonchalant this main character was is so unnerving.
Let’s Hear It For The Boy by Bridgett Nelson –
Dying of aids, when a man loses his partner and has nothing else to look forward to except his dying breath, he agrees to sign up for clinical trials of a drug that may help. But he has no idea what he’s walking in to.
A heartbreaking tale from start to finish. Just when you think it can’t get any worse, it does.
Go At Throttle Up by Ronald Malfi –
While watching tv live and seeing the explosion of the Challenger, this school teacher’s senses are rocked. But that’s not the only intense thing that is going to happen that day…
This was such a quiet horror tale with so many awful elements hiding just below the surface.
Tiki Bar At The Edge Of Forever by Daniel Braum –
Following a group of friends who are looking forward to graduation and spending time hanging out at the beach, we learn that our main character is battling demons.
A strange and spooky tale that will make you think twice about being at a beach in the dark.
Flesh Communion by Holly Rae Garcia –
Stuck in an interrogation room, this woman is forced to retell her tale of being in Waco.
My goodness. What a dark twist to an already dark story…
Y2K Feast by Jeff Strand –
Gearing up for the big technology crash, this father had been prepping his family. But when he asks them if they would be prepared to eat humans, things go sideways.
What a wild ride this one was!
My Favorite Passages from American Cannibal
As beautiful as it was, John’s wrinkled brow let it be known he was troubled, though there was likely no one for miles to see the unease etched on his weathered face.
— Ozark Devil Cult Blues by Jon Steffens
Outside, the yard was darker than she realized. She could feel it cover her with its heavy curtain.
— When A Stranger Bites by L. Stephenson
Sure, I wanted to serve my country, but most of all, I just wanted to serve my dad. Damn right I’d been ready to enlist right alongside him, following in my father’s footsteps with my plastic rifle pressed firmly against my chest. All the way to Quang Ngai. All six years of myself.
— All Ears by Clay McLeod Chapman
Physical pain faded over time; that other shit left scars.
— Go At Throttle Up by Ronald Malfi
I squint and all the colors of the night-time sea appear in the blackness: an infinite amount of grays all muted in shadow.
— Tiki Bar At The Edge Of Forever by Daniel Braum
My Final Thoughts on American Cannibal
Wrath James White said it best in the foreword, “There is no more terrifying a creature than mankind, the apex predator.” This anthology certainly proved that.
This whole collection is an amazingly difficult read, each author brings the terror and highlights the darkest elements of humans.
Prepare your stomach before diving into this one.
Thanks for reading!