Blackberry Blood edited by Aiden Merchant and Julia Lewis is a dark collection of short fiction and poetry. With such an awesome range of tales, this anthology needs to be on your shelf if it isn’t already!
Full disclosure: I was given a free copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review and to help with the content warnings. I was also included in the interview section of the book. This did not affect my rating in any way. I also purchased a copy.
Let’s dive in!
My Thoughts on Blackberry Blood Anthology edited by Aiden Merchant and Julia Lewis
When Aiden first reached out to ask if I would be interested in giving Blackberry Blood a read early on to note some potential content warnings, I couldn’t wait to dive in! I was absolutely honored to be able to provide notes that Aiden adds to the back of the book so that those that are interested in checking out the warnings to protect themselves may do so.
To indicate that these warnings are available, you will see this page at the beginning of the collection:
And of course, I was extra pumped to get an early look at who was going to be included in the collection!
I had an absolute blast reading through the first time. I was so excited to see some names that I recognized and plenty others that were new to me.
Later on, the day I got my physical copy after the book launched, I dove right back into the tales for a second read through. I was so pleased to find that almost all of these tales had stuck with me between reads!
As always, here are my notes on each story and interview included in the collection:
The Trunk by Scott Cole – 5 Stars
A man standing next to an old, dusty, parked car keeps announcing that passerby’s don’t want to see what’s in the trunk. Soon, the man catches someones interest and the trunk is opened. But what is it that is inside this trunk that people really don’t want to see? Similar to a Matryoshka doll, this story just keeps opening up new surprises at each step before the surprise at the end. I loved the flow of the story and how it made me more and more anxious at each step! I couldn’t wait to see where we were going.
Bird Brother by Tabatha Wood – 5 Stars
When Edgar starts rambling about a man watching him again, his wife, Lorraine, just thinks it’s his psychosis again. But when she glimpses something outside of their window, she is enters a new world of darkness… This is such an eerie tale that really packs a punch at the end!
My Favorite Passage from Bird Brother:
Edgar grumbled and opened his newspaper. He shook the pages angrily, holiding up a paper wall between him and his wife.
My Abby by Kathleen Palm – 5 Stars
When this story begins, we meet a woman that is very clearly in distress. She has moved to a new home in the middle of nowhere to make sure she’s away from prying eyes. But the exact reason why she wants her privacy is … unsettling to say the least. This story will send you on a roller coaster of emotions!
My Favorite Passage from My Abby:
The teapot continues to shriek as if it’s calling for help. But there will be no help. I will do what I have to, to keep my Abby with me.
Pumpkin Mom by Daniel Barnett – 5 Stars
When Officer Karen Reese approaches a woman in a cell, we learn it’s her sister-in-law, Helen-May. The officer isn’t surprised and simply says, “You did it. You finally did it.” Shortly afterward, we dive into Helen-May’s story of what happened that lead her to the jail cell. The tale leaves Officer Reese frustrated because it sounds like a wild tale, but when she goes to pick up more clothing for the children, she learns that the story may not have been just fiction.
I absolutely loved how spooky this one was, but it had plenty that also made my blood boil and elements that broke my heart.
Soul To Keep by Emily Ruth Verona – 4 Stars
After an incident at a lake, Mia Hanning made a deal with a demon. Afterward, she lives her life as she sees fit. But when an incident of her own leaves her feeling off, Mia has to continue on with all new challenges. One day, she crosses paths with someone in the same predicament. I loved the tone of this tale! Once you learn what is going on, you’ll keep your fingers crossed for a happy ending.
Victor II by Marisca Pichette – 3 Stars
Oh goodness! With the ending of this one, I immediately had to go back and start it over again. This one is so dark and certainly paints an intense picture in the mind!
What You Never Wanted by G. A. Link – 4 Stars
A heartbreaking little poem of the horror of being unwanted.
Piece By Piece by Brennan LaFaro – 5 Stars
This story begins with this kicker of a first line: “Mac was only seven-years-old when he found the toe; the first toe, anyway.” Um, excuse me?! I was intrigued. As Mac spends his time searching a river for crayfish, the toe he discovers is quite the surprise. Over the next few days, he continues to find more pieces that he is much more interested in than the crustaceans. But he’s may not be alone out there on the creek…
This one has such a fun and upbeat tone while we followed the kid who was still blissfully unaware that he should be afraid. As an adult, I was spooked and wanted to to tell the boy to get the heck out of there! Brennan doesn’t shy away from the very descriptive notes on these body parts. Be prepared to squirm with a few of these!
And of course I have to note the quick mention of Slattery Falls being the town next to them.
My Favorite Passage from Piece By Piece:
Some things were scarier than the dark
Pests by Matthew Brady – 5 Stars
What a setting this author set right from the start! In this tale, a woman’s sleep has been disturbed by noises in the walls. She’s had enough already but when her pantry is raided, she calls in an exterminator. My god. This story went somewhere that truly shocked me.
Night Hungers by Julia Lewis – 4 Stars
Short and brutal! I loved this poem!
Though This Feelin’ I Can’t Change by Janine Pipe – 5 Stars
When a cop just can’t let a case go, she will do anything to get answers for the family. But when those answers come at a price, will the cop take part? This tale had me super hopeful. I kept thinking of worst case scenarios to prepare myself for the ending… and boy, that ending is not one that I even came slightly close to. This one is so powerful. While I love it as is, I’d also love to see a follow up to learn more about what was going on here!
The Greater Secrets of Carbocations by Arasibo Campeche – 3 Stars
When a professor of biochemistry passes away, one of his students is shocked by a video she finds. This professor may just have one more lesson to share with them… This one was so unsettling!
Occulta Gravis by Juleigh Howard-Hobson – 4 Stars
A haunting poem about a murmur heard by someone who is no longer there physically.
Aftershock by Tabatha Wood – 3 Stars
A very unsettling poem with beautiful description.
Dinner Guests by Jay Alexander – 4 Stars
On Thursday nights, the father of the home entertains dinner guests while the mother cooks the meal while keeping an eye on their daughter. The daughter has never seen the dinner guests, but she will be forced to tonight. Yikes this one certainly built up the suspense! This was definitely leading me to think something may happen if the girl is seen, but I did not see this ending coming.
Sympathetic Cells by Matt Holder – 4 Stars
When a sister who is desperate to save her brother calls upon a a being named Lucidas, she quickly learns that the cost she will need to pay is very high.so will she follow through? Oofh, this one made me cringe and made my fingers and teeth ache.
1X by Marisca Pichette – 3 Stars
Beautifully written short with a heartbreaking and unsettling vibe. I’m not sure exactly what was happening here, but I enjoyed it all the same!
Revive by Tabatha Wood – 5 Stars
Wow I love this one!! A quick poem about rising out of what sounds like a very toxic relationship.
The Ones In Between by Heinrich von Wolfcastle – 5 Stars
A man just trying to spend time with his daughter is in rough shape. He keeps coughing up blood, but he refuses that to get in the way of their plans. But just how sick is he? A bomb is dropped in this one when you’re least expecting something like that to happen. It totally caught me off guard and a few scenes prior suddenly made more sense and made the rest of the story extra heartbreaking.
Beyond Shadow by Benjamin Vandersluis – 4 Stars
When darkness has overtaken the world, our main character struggles with their grief while trying to survive. My goodness, this one will break your heart. Knowing something bad happend to Sam was already sad, but learning what killed her was so much worse. Your blood will boil for this poor soul.
My Favorite Passage from Beyond Shadow:
Inch by inch, I realize that I am not the problem, that the darkness is real and belongs to everyone now. It is our final inheritance from an ungrateful universe.
Pillow Thoughts by Julia Lewis – 5 Stars
I LOVED this poem! Who doesn’t ruminate at night when they lay down? If only you could switch your thoughts off at night!
Fear Of Myself by G. A. Link – 5 Stars
A very powerful poem about mental health.
Swallowed by Aiden Merchant – 5 Stars
In this tale, three teenage boys go to a carnival in their town, but one boy is very hesitant. The last time he was on the property, something odd happened. The readers were then hit with a “What’s the worst that can happen?” This is a line that I always get so excited to see in horror stories! You just know things are going to get crazy soon, and that was exactly the case here! I freaking love carnival horror!
After the short stories and poems, there were four interviews included:
- Erica Robyn
- Jayson Robert Ducharme
- Dainel Barnett
- Andrew Post
EEP! I still can’t believe I got to take part! I got to chat about what lead me to book blogging, my favorite books of 2021 so far, books I am looking forward to for the rest of the year, what my process is like, some do’s and don’ts when it comes to reaching out to bloggers, and more. I hope readers enjoy the interview!
My Final Thoughts on Blackberry Blood
This is an amazing collection that is sure to keep readers on their toes!
For horror fans, I highly recommend that you pick this collection up. There wasn’t a single short in this collection that I didn’t love. And how amazing is that cover illustrated by Gemma Amor?! This one is sure to look great on your shelf!
Thanks for reading!
And thanks again to Aiden for allowing me to take part here! I cannot believe that I was mentioned in the acknowledgements AND got to take part in the interview section! Is this real life?!
Snag a copy through your local bookstore if you are able or feel free to use my Amazon affiliate link: