The Covid pandemic of the last couple of years changed the lives of almost everyone around the planet, but it was especially hard for any business unlucky enough to have the word “Corona” in their name. While most folks are aware of the bad press that was focused on Corona beer, there were plenty of other folks affected as well. One of them was the publisher Corona Books here in the UK. They were forced to shelve their fourth horror story anthology for fear of it being drowned in the sea of negativity that surrounds that particular name, regardless of whether or not there was any actual link!
But here we are at last. It’s 2022, things are calming down, and the much delayed Fourth Corona Book of Horror Stories has finally seen the light of day. It’s honestly near criminal that genre fans were denied this delectable feast of horror shorts until now. With a focus on rising talent rather than established writers, this book contains 20 short stories, each one a delicious little amuse-bouche of horror, violence, possession, ghosts, demons, and things that skitter in the night.
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Some notable inclusions are: a first step into the world of horror from the writer of children’s TV series Sooty (Wink Taylor – ‘Musica Mortis’); a contribution from a multi-award-winning Australian writer Deborah Sheldon (‘Angel Hair’); an anonymous contribution from a British Indian writer of BDSM fiction (The Secret Submissive – ‘Belle’); and a first publication from new British writer Jennifer Jackson (‘Infestation’).
This is a book that really doesn’t waste any time in making the reader squirm. The very first story, ‘Here Piggy, Piggy’ by Florence Ann Marlowe features rape, violence, and a transformation scene that just goes on. And on. AND ON – with not a moment’s respite for either the victim or reader. Following up immediately after that is Donna L Greenwood’s ‘Gloria’, a demented little tale of violence, murder and demonic possession. It’s a hell of a strong start and the rest of the stories here do not disappoint.
The collection veers from the horrid to the horrible, from the macabre to the sad and wistful. From the body horror of ‘Here Piggy, Piggy’ to the more old-fashioned (and this is meant in the nicest of ways) chills of ‘Darla and the Clown’ (MM Schreier), to the existential dread of Deborah Sheldon’s ‘Angel Hair’, a story that brings to mind both Hitchock’s The Birds as well as Stephen King’s seminal The Mist. There’s a little morality tale a la Dickens A Christmas Carol in the form of D.A.Watson’s ‘John Longmire’s Last Day’ and even one that might have been penned by Roald Dahl himself with Sue Eaton’s ‘The Final Straw’, a story of domestic violence which manages to be both funny and horrible at the same time.
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These are the stand-out stories, but there’s not a bad one to be found in this collection, and each of them deserves a chance to shine and a place in the collection of any horror fiction fan. There is only one book that’s ever scared me enough to make me put it down, and that’s Stephen King’s The Shining, but the stories on display here are enough to set your skin crawling and your stomach twisting no matter how hardened and cynical a horror fan you might be.
It’s been two years in the making and if you’re looking for some new authors to scare and surprise you, you need to take some time to sit down with the The Fourth Corona Book of Horror Stories. We promise you’ll have a thoroughly unsettling time.
The Fourth Corona Book of Horror Stories is out now in Paperback and Kindle editions from Corona Books UK.