Ok…I’m a pretty big horror fan. I love horror movies, books, collectibles, and everything in between. My wife even thinks I love horror as much as I love her! But I have to confess: when I first read the title of author David Bernstein’s new book, A MIXED BAG OF BLOOD, my stomach did a couple of flip-flops. Maybe it was the breakfast burritos, or maybe the moon was aligned just perfectly with the stars…or perhaps the title struck something deep inside me that I didn’t know existed.
Regardless of what caused my gastrointestinal distress, the title elicited a reaction, which is exactly what it should do. And thankfully, the stories within Bernstein’s book do the same; they burrow into your mind and take root, but then wiggle around in your brain every time you try to push them out. As such, this anthology is a big win, and it’s a title every horror fan should pick up.
If you are not familiar with A MIXED BAG OF BLOOD, here is the book’s synopsis courtesy of Sinister Grin Press:
From a man seeking vengeance for a dead loved one, to a monster lodged in a person’s nose, to starving vampires and samurai battling zombies, a bully meeting his gruesome demise, along with prostitutes being sacrificed, a boy who refuses to stop swearing, and the consequences of one man’s night of unprotected sex comes a dark and disturbing collection of sinister tales filled with dread, bloodshed, humor and the bizarre. This is a Mixed Bag of Blood.
I first became acquainted with Bernstein’s work a few years ago, when I reviewed his zombie thriller, AMONGST THE DEAD. Since then, I’ve been a staunch fan, and I never tire of seeing where his mind takes me.
Every story in A MIXED BAG OF BLOOD is written well, and each is effective in establishing a horrifying tone. They are mostly short in length, ranging from five pages in length up to 15, but they pack a lot of power in the small packaging. This is a perfect example of how quality outweighs quantity when it comes to short stories.
The characters in each tale are fleshed out nicely, and the reader is given just enough information on them to fit the story. I thoroughly dislike reading shorts where the character is given seven paragraphs of backstory that has nothing to do with the plot that is unfolding. This is nothing to worry about here.
Probably my favorite story in A MIXED BAG OF BLOOD is “The Booglin”. The premise of this story is unique and very unnerving, as it will spring to your mind the next time you develop a cold or allergies assail you. I particularly like the gross-out imagery involved here. Bernstein does a fantastic job of making the reader’s nose itch as the story plays out.
A MIXED BAG OF BLOOD is another big win for Bernstein, and I whole-heartedly recommend it. This anthology has a variety of horrors to choose from, so chances are every horror fan should find something to cringe about. The book is available now in a variety of formats, so make a note to give it a look.