Worst Laid Plans is an amazing collection of tales centering around vacations that all take a bit of an unexpected turn. From the bizarre to absolutely terrifying, this collection had it all!
But be warned, this isn’t one to pick up before you head out on your next vacation. Unless, of course, you want to spend your vacation looking over your shoulder for anything unusual, avoiding meeting new people, or second-guessing your travel partner…
Let’s dive in!
My Thoughts on Worst Laid Plans: An Anthology of Vacation Horror edited by Samantha Kolesnik
First things first, can we talk about that cover?! I cannot wait to snag a physical copy for my shelves… I’m obsessed!
Per usual with any anthology, I will add my quick notes on each of the stories below.
Foreword by Sadie Hartmann
Oh my gosh, what a forward! When reading, I assumed each point Sadie made would relate to a story in this collection, and I couldn’t wait to find out if that was the case!
Also… this passage, “I can’t imagine why anyone would think it’s a good idea to drag all of their nice things out into nature and sleep in a tent. There’s nothing but a thin layer of fabric to protect you from . . . ANYTHING.” AGREED. Camping creeps me out so much! I camped when I was a kid growing up on an island off the coast of Maine where the only thing you needed to worry about was sap and ticks, but even then I was always wicked spooked.
You’ve Been Saved by S.E. Howard – 4 Stars
This tale is about two young men named Chris and Ethan who are on a road trip. At one of the stops along the way, a young girl bumps into Chris and hands off a note. The note reads simply “HELP.” Chris stalls and can’t decide what to do, while Ethan thinks it’s a joke. Little did they know, there was something much more sinister than a kidnapping going on.
What a creepy tale! And my goodness, I hated Ethan immediately when I saw how quickly he brushed off the call for help as a joke.
Summers with Annie by Greg Sisco – 5 Stars
Summers with Annie is the title of a film that a five-year-old boy and his father go to see when they arrive on an island for their vacation. But when the boy falls asleep before the end of the movie, he wakes up to find his father isn’t in the seat next to him…
This one was terrifying! What a creepy premise. I loved it! I also really enjoyed the way it was written! It was like I was sitting down with someone telling me a story about their past, complete with little one-offs that tie the story together in the end.
I LOVED this passage: Life has a way of doing that. Something that crashes your world down one year is a scar you don’t think about the next, and something you pass without a second glance today, you realize tomorrow it meant the world.
Expertise by Asher Ellis – 5 Stars
When this story begins, we meet two people who are out diving in the ocean in a secluded area. The woman who paid for the private excursion notices something large following her. She panics a bit, thinking that it’s a shark. Her guide takes a look and sees that it’s a barracuda. He tries to keep her calm, even though it’s the largest barracuda he has ever seen. But the barracuda isn’t the only thing to be feared out there in the water…
This one was so fast-paced and it really packed in such an intense feeling of dread throughout.
Unkindly Girls by Hailey Pipez – 4 Stars
In this tale, a girl and her father are vacationing on a beach. The father has very clearly drilled ideas into his young daughter’s head about not being “unkindly.” But just why that is… the girl is about to find out.
What a heartbreaking tale. What a brave little girl!
Deep in the Heart by Waylon Jordan – 5 Stars
A family decides to take a trip into a cave to see the stalactites and stalagmites. While separated from the group, Michael hears something. The tour guide dismisses it and they move on. But what if something was lurking in the dark of the caves?
SO spooky. The darkness definitely creeps me out. I can’t even imagine being underground in total darkness… No thank you!
Peelings by Kenzie Jennings – 3 Stars
This story is about a family taking a last-minute trip to the happiest place on Earth. While there, the mom gets a nasty sunburn. As she peels, she realizes that it’s not like any sunburn she’s had before…
LOVED the ending of this one.
The Difference Between Crocodiles and Alligators by Malcolm Mills-
Not one for me, unfortunately.
The Cucuy of Cancun by V. Castro – 4 Stars
This story was about a boogeyman that preys on nasty tourists but needs a vacation herself.
Well, that was the worst timing, I got up to get a snack and then started this tale… The third paragraph was a doozy!
Taylor Family Vacation ’93 by Jeremy Herbert – 4 Stars
A heartbreaking tale about a family on vacation, but not everything is what it seems. “Double Digit” Dan Taylor brings his camera everywhere. While it records bits and pieces of their trip, it’s also recording more than Dan originally realized.
This one was wicked sad, but it had me on the edge of my seat!
The Penanggalan by Scott Cole – 4 Stars
In this quick tale, we see a couple taking a last-minute trip. On the plane, one of the characters finds a book and reads about a Penanggalan; a creature with the head of a beautiful woman, but whose lower half is a mess of organs floating. As the couple explores the city, the main character can’t stop thinking about the being.
WOAH. That was intense. I love tales like this because they make me second-guess what happened! I loved the element of the vinegar smell.
Sex with Dolphins by Chad Stroup- 4 Stars
When a couple travels on their honeymoon, a secluded section of beach calls to them. Right before they leave, something snags the groom and he doesn’t return to the surface of the water…
My gosh, I didn’t know what to expect diving into a story with a title like this! It was equal parts heartbreaking and heartwarming. I loved the ending!
Caught a Glimpse by Patrick Lacey- 5 Stars
Who doesn’t want to get away from it all for a bit? This man goes on a “work trip” where he stays in a cottage for some peace and quiet. But one day he spots a neighbor next door…
While I hate that this character lied to his wife, I loved how the tale turned out! Phew! And that ending!
In the Water by Mark Wheaton- 5 Stars
In this tale, two girls are on vacation looking for fun. When a storm rolls in, they are worried about being bored. Little do they know, that’s not going to be their concern for long.
This one was filled with so many twists and turns! I loved the different storylines all woven into one.
Good Time in the Bad Lands by Laura Keating – 5 Stars
Ah, road trips with the family… never a good time. That’s just what this tale is about. Determined to make good time, this father is set on making this a trip to remember for his family. But they’re about to enter the badlands and learn why it got such a name.
What a tale to end with! Holy cow. Bizarre and terrifying!
My Final Thoughts on Worst Laid Plans: An Anthology of Vacation Horror
Ah, vacation. Don’t get me wrong, I do love to travel every now and again. I also have a list of places that I want to see someday… but traveling really wears me out. I always feel like I need a vacation after the vacation to regroup.
After reading this collection, I’m not exactly mad that I will be staying home for the foreseeable future…
This was such a fun collection. I highly recommend it to fans of horror!
Thanks for reading!
If you enjoy short stories, you gotta check this one out. Make sure to snag a copy from your local indie today!