"Twisted: Tainted Tales" by Janine Pipe
Being tasked with what seems to be one of the most banal assignments, Jill finds herself rooting through an old property at the behest of her boss at the Jeffery, Yardly and Marshall legal firm. Though at first she took on the job with dismay, now her interest is peaked. After rifling through a locked desk drawer she discovers what appears to be tattered papers and an old mixtape. The papers are scrawled with the fictional drabbles of the previous resident, the same person who went missing without a trace. Carefully, Jill begins to read, and what lays waiting amongst those mysterious pages is deeply disturbing and unsettling. Stories of erotic blood lust, supernatural monsters, and other unadulterated horrors consume her very soul.
Twisted: Tainted Tales is a horror anthology with several short stories written by Splatterpunk Award nominated author Janine Pipe. Right off the bat, the author grabs a hold of the reader with a grisly creature-feature called, "Footsteps". It is the perfect start to the collection because it gives readers a clear indication of what to expect—nightmare inducing shock and awe. From there, the author meticulously crafts a group of stories knitted together by the character of Jill, whose unfortunate happenstance is that she came across such abhorrent tales. This embedded narrative is a welcome addition to what is already a stellar anthology. Reader's are bound to enjoy following Jill as she devours both the stories and the mixtape that was left behind by the mysterious writer that seemingly vanished out of nowhere.
Anyone that interacts with Janine Pipe knows of her utter devotion to both the writing community and the horror genre. Her reviews and horror drabbles can be found in Scream Magazine as well as various short story collections, including The One That Got Away, an all woman anthology of horror by Kandisha Press. That passion and enthusiasm is reflected in these tainted tales, bleeding through the pages of each story.
Characters are a big part of the reading experience as well. A reader needs to connect with the characters so the story becomes more immersive. That said, you are sure to connect with the entire cast in this book because you likely know them all. Pipe includes names of influential people within the horror community as characters in the book. Mentors, writers, reviewers and readers are present and none of them are safe. Authors Kenzie Jennings, Donnie Goodman, and Jill Girardi are just a few of the friends/characters who may or may not find themselves in some frighteningly precarious positions in this book. That, along with the writer's personal notes that accompany each story make for an engaging and compelling reading experience.
For all you 80s kids, this book is totally radical, dude. Pipe's audience will appreciate the nostalgia she injects into each and every scene. If you woke up on Saturday mornings with He-Man, rocked out to hair metal, swooned over Zack from Saved by the Bell, and watched as Betsy Palmer slashed and stabbed camp counselors in Friday the 13th, then this horror anthology will be the perfect retro throwback for you. It's definitely an entertaining theme that jumps out at the reader starting with the worn VHS cover to the mixtape playlist near the end of the book. The 80s nostalgia also compliments the brutally visceral nature of these stories. It pays homage to the slasher chomp and stomp horror films fanatics fell in love with during the genre’s peak, such as: The Howling, Fright Night and The Lost Boys. One thing is for certain, Pipe knows her readers well, and she dishes out the ooey-gooey good stuff for all you gore hounds out there.
Twisted: Tainted Tales is not for the faint of heart. When readers buy this book, they are getting an admission ticket to a visceral horror show, one reserved for those who delve deep into terrifying fictional worlds. There is truly something here for all horror fans whether you enjoy creature features, the supernatural, or even eroticism, and the author delivers in gruesome fashion. This debut story collection is a testament to all the hard work and utter devotion Pipe has given to horror fiction. She is an author who has given so much of herself to get to where she is. Not only will readers feel that commitment page-after-page, they will project that love for the genre out into the world and for that, Janine Pipe, we thank you.
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