The Perfectly Fine Neighborhood edited by Kayleigh Dobbs, Stephen Kozeniewski, and Wile E. Young is an anthology of amazing tales where ghosts occupying space amongst the living is totally normal, but all is not perfectly fine.
Let’s dive in!
My Thoughts on The Perfectly Fine Neighborhood edited by Kayleigh Dobbs, Stephen Kozeniewski, and Wile E. Young –
Per usual, the copyright page joke had me chuckling! Don’t miss it when you give this anthology a read!
Diving right into the collection, I was so pumped to find that I loved each and every story. Sitting on this review for a few days after closing the book, I’ve had to come to terms with the fact that choosing a few favorites here is impossible. Each story brings so much to the collection overall, while still standing perfectly strong in its own way.
Here are my notes on each tale!
Breaking down how this collection came to be, readers will be extra pumped to dive into this collection after reading this!
The First Ghost by Stephen Kozeniewski –
Traveling on an expensive, ghost-free trip, this couple has been enjoying themselves immensely. The only thing that’s bothering them is the ghost light that is always on. They decide to try to turn it off just once and soon learn what a mistake that was.
What a story to kick off the collection! When this type of vacation was described, I was already on edge. This story took an absolutely brutal turn that I never could have seen coming. Many of the scenes toward the very end are going to be ingrained in my brain for a very long time.
(Shout-out to Stephen for signing the first page of this story in my book!)
Jurisdiction by Bev Vincent –
When parts of a body show up in various places all over town, this investigator soon learns it’s not just the living that can be killed…
What an unsettling thought to have, that ghosts that can be killed!
The Blue Mausoleum by J.C. Smith –
After discovering their friend dead, but their ghost missing, this character falls into a terrifying transformation process.
My gosh, the ending of this is brutal. Content warning there for people who can’t do brief extreme kid horror.
Auld Lang Syne by Wile E. Young –
Still traumatized by their violent deaths, this group of people are terrified when their killer returns.
I loved seeing how this group had bonded and figured out how to pull each other out of their funks together. But I felt so terrible for this group! Reliving your death on a loop when you relapse is terrifying enough, but what happens next just may be worse.
A Most Unpleasant Task by Jeff Strand –
Convincing an assassin to take out her husband so she can sleep with him again, this man thinks it’s going to be an easy job. Of course, he has no idea what he’s getting himself into.
This was a wild ride!! That ending!
Click by Candace Nola – TW- suicide
An absolutely brutal tale of the fallout of suicide.
The Perfectly Fine Family by Ryan Breadine –
A perfectly fine family made up of a deceased husband, a living and aging wife, and an adopted living daughter struggle with their current dynamic. Not only that, but something is happening that appears to be targeting the wife…
My gosh, this was so much fun! I loved the humor added here while the main story was powered by a combination of grief and love.
Fiduciary Duty by Zachary Rosenberg –
Determined to catch a killer who murdered his wife, this man goes to a place that has ghosts locked up. He’s warned against going, but is it truly a warning against danger or something more sinister?
Every step of this story was nerve-wracking. I was so excited to see what would come next! At the same time, my heart broke for these poor souls.
Addict to Slaughter by Shane Burnham –
As the title states, this man is addicted to killing people. Even though some of his victims stick around his home to berate him, he keeps bringing back new victims. But how long can he keep this up?
This was SO GOOD! I loved the premise and the pacing. That ending…
Incorporeal Tax by Annie Knox –
Haunted by his late partner, this character is desperate to stop seeing ghosts and will do whatever it takes.
What an interesting take that focuses on NOT wanting to see your loved one for the rest of time.
Where the Heart Is by Brian Keene –
A tale of a wonderfully heartwarming relationship between a living man and his ghost wife.
I so didn’t want this one to have a horror element, but alas… here we are. This tale shattered my heart.
Lay, Lie, Lie by Gavin Dillinger –
Playing off the arrest and death of his father, this man opens their home for touring for true crime enthusiasts.
Ugh, this son profiting off their trauma with no empathy for his father’s ghost… I loved the focus on the father and his history. What an upsetting premise overall though.
Playthings by Kay Hanifen –
Stolen and kept as this man’s plaything, this poor woman is losing hope of being rescued. But little does the wicked man know, there’s a ghost who is out in the forest looking to help people that is watching.
I both loved and hated this tale! I hated to see the brutality that was happening to this poor woman, but man, what a killer storyline! I loved the driving scene toward the end of the tale.
The Perfectly Fine Storm by D. C. Hill –
Living in a place where the ghosts are supposed to be kept away, this father is desperate to get help when a storm knocks out the power, threatening to let the ghosts of his past visit him and his family that he had kept things from.
What a fun tale centered around how money has its advantages for some people, as long as things go to plan.
The Last Word by Kayleigh Dobbs –
Sibling rivalry goes to an extreme here when one twin does something truly wicked…
MY GOSH. What a tale to end the collection. This was so wonderfully petty and devious. Whether you’ve had a sibling or a friend like this, you’ll be ready to rage right along with the main character. And the DOODLE BEAR! My goodness, I forgot all about that toy. That was one of my prized possessions as a kid as well.
My Favorite Passages from The Perfectly Fine Neighborhood –
There were bad ghosts out there, of course, the same as there were bad people. They might accidentally kill you, or possess you without consent, but those were just little things.
– The First Ghost by Stephen Kozeniewski
Murder wasn’t unique to living humans.
– Jurisdiction by Bev Vincent
Tombs was dead quiet at this hour. Even the cicadas hung it up and went to bed. Since there weren’t a lot of towns this far south, the sky wasn’t stained with light, making the brightness of the stars all the more vivid. They stretched on for miles, a field of shattered diamonds.
– The Blue Mausoleum by J.C. Smith
You’d think with all his designer bullshit he’d be a stunning snack, but the packaging was deceiving. He tasted like stale bread. Boring, flat, and a little stringy. Strong citrusy aftertaste.
– The Blue Mausoleum by J.C. Smith
Should old acquaintances be forgot? Not a chance in hell when they were the ones who murdered you.
– Auld Lang Syne by Wile E. Young
I got paranoid and couldn’t stop looking over my shoulder. It took several weeks of nothing happening, but eventually I let it go. The birthday resentment seemed to be in the past. Oh, what a fool I was to think the calm wasn’t a sign of the shitstorm that was coming.
– The Last Word by Kayleigh Dobbs
She cut the last page out of every one of my books.
– The Last Word by Kayleigh Dobbs
My Final Thoughts on The Perfectly Fine Neighborhood –
I had an absolute blast with the collection! I love that there was a mix of spooky, heart-breaking, thought-provoking, and just all-around fun tales included here.
Go pick up a copy today!
Thanks for reading!
And a major shout-out to French Press and Stephen Kozeniewski for sending me extra treats in my Kickstarter package! I’m obsessed with the note from Stephen <3 That made me laugh so hard on a day of pregnancy when I REALLY needed a laugh! Now, as the baby has arrived, I was so grateful to read these stories while in the hospital and in the early days of recovery at home. What a treat!