Anthologies Book Reviews Horror


21 Short Stories from 3 Michigan Horror Writers

Chris Reed, Chris Robertson, and Rick McQuiston

I just love finding out that an author is from my home state. It sounds weird, but, it makes me feel like I know them a little… like we’re neighbors or something. Having something in common is what sparks most friendships!! Even better than realizing an author is almost a neighbor, is reading a story that takes place in my own backyard. You know I don’t mean that literally, but seeing landmarks like Cobo Hall (where I saw my very first concert), and reading stories set in Houghton Lake or Luddington (where I’ve camped too many times to count), gives me a sense of comfort in one way, and terrifies me in another way. You can bet that my next canoe trip or campfire is going to be spent jumping at noises and constantly looking over my shoulder!
I want to share pieces of the Forward, written by Rick McQuiston, so you’ll realize why you need to read Michigan Madmen, and why you need to come visit! This book will prove to you that Detroit is no longer the scariest thing in Michigan!!

“Many Midnight Publishing House proudly offers here a diverse and frightening collection of terrifying tales from three of Michigan’s finest upcoming authors.”
“The stories span the full spectrum of dark realms, of things that go bump in the night, of that strange, unexplained noise that startled you out of a peaceful dream. There are carnivorous appliances, mad-scientists, zombies, nightmares that are all too real, and even alternate realities bent on the destruction of our world.”
“The work in this book not only showcases the twisted imaginations of the writers within, but also how the great state of Michigan can compete with any other part of the country in terms of dark literary talent.”
“So please read on brave explorer, and light a blood-red candle, pour a cauldron of hot tea, and remember that just because something is impossible doesn’t mean that it can’t happen.”
Rick McQuiston

The first section of this book is all short stories by Chris Reed. This is my first time reading anything by him. I reviewed each story along the way, commenting as I needed to. And, after extensive search… I located the author. I’ll give you the links at the end of the blog. Chris Robertson has been a little more talkative, though. More about his books next section.

Daphne has an unusual phobia. She is petrified of ovens. Yup. Ovens. She has a right to be, though. After reading why, you might develop a phobia of your own. She can’t maintain a real relationship because of this, but she really likes Brock. So, it’s time for her to conquer this – once and for all.
I wonder if I could convince my husband that I have developed a phobia of our oven from reading Chris’s story… hmm… I wonder what he might develop in turn. It might not be worth it. I’ll just go heat up our garlic bread now…

You know those survey cards you fill out at restaurants? We’re doing that at my work right now – having a little contest with it, too. (I’ve gotten a letter from the CEO of the company & a gift card for a local chain store. Yay, me.)
But, if you’re dissatisfied – to what lenghts would you like the restaurant to go to ensure you came back? Would you like the owner of your local Denny’s to bring the waitress to your house, for you to deal with her directly? This short from Chris Reed does just that. A guy jokingly fills out a survey card at Benny’s, he’s a little drunk, and gives the harried waitress a low score. A knock at the door the next morning brings the owner of Benny’s – with the waitress in tow. She’s already upset, and you know it’s just going to get worse. It does! It really, really does.
The ending is the best. The last line…priceless. Great story.

One of my favorite things about this book is it’s a MICHIGAN book! Houghten Lake, Joe Louis Arena, Cobo Hall… all great places I know & love, and am so happy to see them mentioned here!
This story by Chris Reed is truely a fucked up one. Be warned. Not for the squeemish!
I know I HateHateHate running into kids with stupid names. Ugh, the crap the movie stars come up with pisses me off, family members have irritated me to no end, too. Apparently, the author has the same feelings. This is a traditional hospital, and you will give your newborn a traditional name. Not the one you had picked out? No problem – here is a list. You can choose from these. Don’t try to get cute, either. These doctors & nurses ain’t playin’.

OK. I can’t hold back any longer. This Chris Reed is a sick & twizted dude. Really. Again – if you get icked out easily, stay clear of this one, too!
Little Tom had planned on going fishing with his dad & sister, but… his sister wasn’t feeling too good, been complaining of cramps, so the fishing was put off. Instead, Tom decides to play with his old dog. He knows the dog is old, but just can’t think of putting it to sleep. Tom decides to play frisbee with the mutt, but when he goes to get it out of the shed, he finds his sister – with a bucket & a wire hanger, naked from the waist down. You think you see where this is going. But – you have no idea. I don’t know if that noise I made was a laugh or something of revulsion. Maybe a sound of being disgusted with myself for trying to surpress a shocked giggle. I’m sure I’m going to Hell.

OMFG! CHRIS!! What are you doing to me?! You’re tryin’ to kill me!!
This one is a teacher going to extreme lengths to try and prove that a student is lying. Very short. Very sick.

DAMNIT CHRIS! I should have known better… note to self: No trying to eat during lunch break at work if I’m reading Chris Reed. Especially not with a title like PLATE LICKER.
So…yeah… guy runs a diner, dish washer calls in sick… typical night in He’ll for this dude. On top of that, one of his regular customers is in. The vagabond lady with the rotten teeth. The one who orders the cheapest menu item, and licks her plate clean. Well, this could work to his advantage…

This is about a kid who’s father has access to other planets! How cool would you be if your dad took you to Mars to look for leaves, or to Saturn to visit the new amusement park!? Your only cool if you make it back to tell the tale, so these guys better be careful on their trip to TZ-12! I don’t normally like the sci-fi side of horror, but I enjoyed this story. Chris didn’t try to make me vomit, in this one either.


I read the next section of the book tonight, the stories by Chris Robertson. I did this section the same way as the first, ‘reviewing’ each story as I read it, making notes along the way. These are written in a completely different style than the previous ones. These are a more subtle flavor of horror, where the terror creeps up on you slowly… (and jumps out at you when you get out of bed in the middle of night to go pee!!) Chris is the first of the three authors I found when I started this book. We’re friends on Goodreads, now. Not too talkative, yet… But, I haven’t talked to him about his work yet either ;D

The previous night’s storm was a strong one. No visual of a funnel cloud, but evidence of one lay all around nonetheless. The grasses in the fields all swooped to one side, and the largest oak in the village had been unearthed, and now lay across the field. As the men of the village set out to remove it, one of them falls through a weak spot in the ground, into a hidden chamber below. Within this handmade chamber is a statue of a large pagan deity, features of both man and beast, sat atop a throne of stone. The presence of this pagan God seems to bring good fortune to the village, but, William knows that it will come at a cost. A price that he’s not willing to pay. Unfortunately, the others seem more than willing…

GONE SKIVING: Chris Robertson
Henry Kessler, the sociopathic son of the wealthiest man in the state, is sitting in his hunting & fishing store – grumping about his poor, privileged life. When Adam comes into work, he realizes Henrys got the itch. It’s been awhile since they’d skived off work to hang out at the pond near the old Asylum. Adam trys to convince Henry that he’s not sure if he’s interested, they’re getting older now. But, he realizes he can’t even convince himself that he doesn’t want to go, his anticipation rising as he dials the Asylum to warn them of their arrival.

Charlie isn’t as interested in his new next door neighbor as his mom is. She spends time gossiping on the phone about the professor, his wife that just left him, and the university where he now works. Charlie is interested in the garden. A garden filled with plants that look like the huge bean-stalks from that fairy tale! He watched as the stray dog, Maurice, was captured & devoured by the plants. Charlie knows that it’s up to him to do something about these carnivorous fly-traps from Hell in Dr. Kraus’ garden.

The small family arrives at the Carlton Hotel, after a long & arduous drive. What they encounter is a surreal scene of tranquility and the macabre, yet they still proceed to enter their room and unwind from their trip. The details seem a bit fuzzy as husband trys to relay them to the police the next day.

It happened like a dream. The couple was approached, and led away, by a strange man that they had no reason to follow. Knowing it was wrong, they entered the farmhouse without hesitation. Inside the farmhouse is where it went from dreamscape to nightmare – and the man slowly came to his senses. He now can only hope that he will be able to snap out of his waking-dream state fast enough to save himself and his girlfriend.

This story was an uncomfortable read for me. The isolation and the snow, it tickled my Claustrophobia a bit. It’s about the men who are the surveyors of the North Country. It is the end of the season, and time for them to begin their journey home for the winter. But, the cold and the snow have already become an issue, and there have been sightings of Nukpana Istas – the one who guards the land from the white man. But, those could just be tracks of the wolves in the area, or a local huntsman’s child trying to pull a prank. Right?


This last section is all Rick McQuiston.
(I grew up by a McQuiston car dealership, and my dad did a lot of business with them. I need to remember to ask Rick if there’s any connection.)
Same formula, I take notes as I read each story, so I remember details of the feelings I get, or certain phrases I might want to quote. I didn’t edit my notes much, just enough so I don’t look illiterate or sound like a lunatic 🙂

Stories told around the campfire always seem a little more terrifying. Maybe it’s being out in the open, exposed. Surrounded by darkness, you never know what could be lurking in the darkness. Or, maybe, it’s the darkness we should be afraid of.

The monster in the closet. The monster under the bed. The scratching on the window. These are all common fears, even for adults… if we’re alone. (My problem has always been mirrors, ever since being tortured by my older ‘sisters’ with Bloody Mary.) After reading this one, you’ll realize that when the monsters want you, they can be anywhere. Waiting for that perfect opportunity to seize the child in us all.

2 + 2 = 5 :
School teachers are such important individuals, molding young minds and making sure that children learn as much as they can. But, even the finest academic scholar makes mistakes. In this bizarre world, the incorrect answers given soon become the new correct reality. History will change, formulas will never be definitive, and minds won’t ever be able to realize the truth as it once was. It’s kind of difficult to make my thoughts become words for this one. It would make a perfect Twilight Zone episode!

If Time were an Entity, how would you imagine s/he would be? I’d like to stick with the illusion of Father Time, a grandfatherly kind of guy, with a long greying beard, who smelled like cookies. Rick sees this entity differently. Rick explains how Time is in league with Death, and they are plotting the end to everything.

Nightmares. Reoccurring dreams. We’ve all had them, and know that the harder you try to avoid them – the stronger and faster they come. Neil hasn’t slept in three days. Each night he has come one step closer to the terrors in his dreamscape, and he knows that his next night will bring the confrontation he’s dreading.

A person’s bedroom is their sanctuary, and none of us like it when people go traipsing around where they don’t belong. Rick certainly felt this way. He has a pet that helps keep his room safe from prying eyes, though. His mom, Debbie, is about to come face to face with Rick’s pet, Slug, and she’ll get to see all the tricks it has learned since moving in.

Spells are a powerful tool when used correctly, and they’re definitely not to be used when you’re in an overly emotional state. And, if you don’t know what to expect from the outcome, you should never read aloud from passages found in strange books. Haven’t you seen The Evil Dead?!


CHRIS REED lives in Davidson, MI.
Find him on Facebook

CHRIS ROBERTSON went to Western MI University.
He’s on Goodreads
Find him on Facebook

RICK McQUISTIN is from Warren, MI.
Find him on Facebook

2 replies on “MICHIGAN MADMEN: An Anthology”

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