Sickness Is In Season by Aiden Merchant has everything a horror fan craves! From light and spooky, to full-blown spine-chilling terror, this collection of short stories is a killer mix.
Full disclosure: I was given a free copy of this book per request of an honest review. This did not affect my rating in any way.
Let’s dive in!
My Thoughts on Sickness Is In Season by Aiden Merchant
Be prepared to experience sympathy pains while reading many of these tales! You’ll certainly be thankful that you’re not in these characters’ shoes…
Aiden hits on an amazing range of topics here; there’s brutal body horror, terrifying creatures, unsettling space horror, intense serial killers, gut-punch grief horror, spooky paranormal horror, sinister aliens, spine-chilling possessions, and so much more!
No matter what your personal favorite sub-genre of horror is, you’ll be sure to find something that sinks its teeth into you within this collection!
It was impossible for me to choose some favorites here, I loved each and every tale! Some were familiar to me from reading other works, but most were brand new to me.
Per usual, here are my notes on each tale:
Kicking off with a doozy of a body horror story set in space, readers will cringe while reading what this man goes through! But things only get worse from there. This one got both my claustrophobia and my arachnophobia going!
When a trip to try to save their marriage isn’t going well, this husband and wife duo split up for the afternoon. Just moments after his wife had left the area, he attempts to hit on a young woman. Little does this slime ball know, he hit on the wrong girl! I had first read this one in Slice of Paradise and loved it! I’m obsessed with the overlapping storylines and justice that this story brings!
BLOCKS LOYAL AND THE TWITCHER’S GAME
Set up as a recording from a serial killer to her fans, this narrator outlines their twisted way of choosing their next victim and how they go about their kills. But what’s even darker than that? They also discuss what led them to be a serial killer. This was so unsettling! The body horror had me curling up into a ball while reading. I was so nervous about what the killer was going to tell us next!
JUST A BABY
When a man brings home a specimen that he doesn’t know, he calls in biologists to come take a look. But that night, things start to progress, and they end up getting totally out of control! Eek, the creatures here will make you squirm! There’s a scene toward the end of the story that is very The Taking of Deborah Logan-esque… if you’ve seen the movie, you know the scene I’m talking about!
A SECOND CHANCE
When a man in desperate grief is approached with the promise to reunite him with his daughter, he’s willing to try anything. But oh boy, does this being have other plans! This one is heartbreaking and brutal!
BIRTHING OF BLACK
While out camping, the ground shakes and a noise is heard. With nothing better to do, the group of campers head out to investigate. When they approach the source, the see other animals fleeing. If only they had been like the animals and turned around! But their curiosity got the better of them. This tale will get your heart pumping! It’s so eerie.
CAMPING ISN’T FOR EVERYONE
With a title like this, you know you’re in for a ride. When this teen dreads taking a camping trip with his step dad, he begrudgingly goes along with the plans after his mother insists. But a few hours into the trip and the father begins to feel ill, and their situation goes from typical camping to something that is straight from my nightmares. This one had my skin crawling!
When a daughter returns to her father’s house to deal with his belongings after his passing, her and the moving crew make a dark discovery. The idea behind this one is so chilling! It forces readers to ask themselves if they really know their loved ones.
I LOVED this story when I first encountered it in Damned Hunger, and I loved it even more on the second read through. This is a tale about the curiosity of two adventure seeking children that goes very, very wrong! While filled with horror, there’s also a couple of gut-punches of grief.
When a young man leaves the house for the quiet of the woods while his parents fight loudly, all he wants is a bit of peace. On his walk, he discovers some holes in the ground, but unfortunately he can’t get out of there fast enough. The suspense and the body horror here is insane! I had first read this one in Damned Hunger, and the second I recognized the title, I debated not re-reading it, as I just wanted to imagine a happier ending for Davey! This poor kid…
MARKINGS AND LOTS OF THEM!
When a man drops off his car to be cleaned, the staff are a bit spooked by the markings that they find inside. When the man leaves with a clean car, it unfortunately wasn’t just dirt that was left behind. Soon, one of the men that worked on the car stops coming into work and the other reports that he is burning up. This is another tale with a super unsettling plot that makes you question if you’ve ever been at risk of picking up some unwanted attention.
ONE BY ONE
After the world has changed forever when alien creatures began coming out of the ground, this family knows their time will come eventually. Then one day their dog starts to growl, and they rush to arm themselves. But will they survive the encounter or will they be picked off one by one? This one was action packed and terrifying! It’s got the horror of an alien encounter mixed with the terror of a home invasion blended together with lots of blood. This one will give you nightmares!
After going on a bender, this character is approached by a man who appears to be in costume. But he’s about to learn that this mask isn’t just for show… This one is brutal! I read this back in 2020 and when the tale popped up here, I was so excited to dive back in!
RETURNING TO THE GREY
When this man’s father goes missing from a nursing home, he arrives hoping to find him. But after reading a letter that was left to him and in speaking to one of the nurses, the man learns that there was something darker going on here. This tale had a very real-world horror vibe with a splash of the paranormal. I was hooked and so antsy to see where it was going.
This flash horror piece is incredible. Anyone looking to get into this format needs to read this! I first read this in Damned Hunger and loved it!
STARVING AGAINST THE PULL
When a man’s wife starts acting strangely, he’s convinced she’s cheating on him. But after a few days, he fears something much worse. The wife is stuck in a terrifying situation where the cabin she was originally drawn to is now holding her captive. This one is such an amazing quiet horror tale! It’s a slow burn with a wonderful focus on love.
The opening paragraph of this one! My god, this one is terrifying. The thought of having a creature inside my body freaks me out more than anything else. And how this one gets in? No thank you! Prepare yourself before diving into this one and let me just say I’m glad I don’t currently have a gym membership.
I’m still just as obsessed with this tale as I was the first couple of times I encountered it in Damned Hunger and Blackberry Blood! The slow build up that is filled with excitement at the carnival before everything turns to terror is so good.
I read this tale back in 2020 and I fully stand by this comment: Tenebris by Aiden Merchant is a brutal short story that will make you want to reach through the pages to give a very good boy a pat!
THE FRIDAY NIGHT GANG
Yikes, yikes, yikes! This flash fiction tale will leave you breathless after a punch of terror!
THE SCAR OPENS
When one of their friends goes missing after sending a text to announce that he was going onto a certain property, this group makes a plan to go in at night to try to find him. But they’re about to meet a similar fate as their friend. This one takes a turn so quickly! I went from feeling a little hopeful to dreading the outcome.
THE TAX MAN KNOCKS
When a man goes to rob a vacationing family, he gets much more than he expected from the encounter! This story is brutal from the very start and doesn’t let up! I would love to see more from the one character that walks away here.
YOUR NEW GOD
When a local cult rounds up the people in a neighborhood, the neighbors band together to make a plan of escape. But will it work? This is a terrifying tale of the intensity of religion and possession. Yikes!
My Favorite Passages from Sickness Is In Season
I got so drawn into these tales, I forgot to highlight all of my favorite passages! I only ended up snagging two passages, but boy are these good ones:
By nightfall, I was given a hammer and a shovel and told by my mother to “finish it.” I bashed his skull in until it looked like a Jack-O-Lantern someone had stepped on.
Screams multiplied until there were fewer of them to be heard.
My Final Thoughts on Sickness Is In Season
Filled with action, gore, and terror, this is a collection of short stories that fans of all horror sub-genres can’t miss!