Elements of Horror: Earth (Short Story Anthology)- A Book Review

Elements of Horror


Elements of Horror Book One: Earth, is the first in a series of four horror anthologies based on the Elements. Within these pages you will find a variety of stories from some of the best independent horror writers on the scene today, including Theresa Jacobs, R.C. Rumple, David F. Gray, and many more. Fall into sinkholes, brave the tales of witchcraft, grotesque creatures, and demons, and feel the terror of explorations gone wrong.

Author: Various

Publisher: Red Cape Publishing

Pages: 203

Genre: Horror

Release Date: 03/09/2019

My Chosen Format: Kindle

My Rating of ‘Elements of Horror: Earth’: 3 out of 5

Purchase: Amazon UKAmazon USAudible UKAudible US


This was one of the horror books I bought mid-October, fully expecting to get into the spooky feel of the month. As it was, I didn’t get around to it until the start of November due to ARCs.

As with all short story collections I review (sadly, of which there will most likely be very few more as I have fallen out of love with the short story format), I rate every story out of five, add the scores up and divide by the number of stories to get my overall rating for the anthology. My rating, after all was said and done, turned out to be 3.36 out of 5. Rounded down to a 3.

Please be aware that, due to the short nature of the reviews, mild spoilers may well be present.

With that said, on with the reviews:

Pro-Death by Theresa Jacobs {3 out of 5}

This short, punchy tale of witchcraft and revenge centres around a young girl who has her child aborted by the very doctor who got her pregnant. The writing was good and the descriptions vivid. My main downside was that we were just slapped in the face with the doctor’s wrongdoings all at once. It felt a little forced rather than organic. It felt like the author was trying to make us hate the guy in the space of a few short paragraphs. Because of this, it didn’t ever really feel like a complete story. More a case of cause and effect with no real attention to storytelling.

Beneath the City by Jaq D. Hawkins {4 out of 5}

For me, this was far stronger than the opener and would have perhaps been a better candidate to open the anthology with. A group of kids go exploring the tunnels beneath London, only to find something far more terrifying than they bargained for. The writing was good and the characters felt well-fleshed out rather than just names on a page. The ending felt a little too open and left me with a ‘huh, was that it?’ kind of feeling. Were the ending a tad more complete, I’d have been giving this top marks.

Autumn Leaves by Monster Smith {4 out of 5}

What’s a monster story unless it’s written by an author with ‘Monster’ as their name, eh? This one was a really well-written piece revolving around a teenager being forced to take his little sister out trick or treating. The author does a great job of making you feel a range of emotions for the characters, a sign of great writing. I see what was being aimed at with the ending, but it just left me feeling incredibly deflated.

King Brokko’s Revenge by Darren Callow {1 out of 5}

A treasure hunter, armed with his trusty metal detector, desperately searches for the burial site of the legendary King Brokko. His search takes him far deeper into the earth than he could have fathomed. I really did not enjoy this one due to the writing style. It’s incredibly ‘tell-orientated’ with everything being very matter of fact and literally nothing left to interpretation. I like my mind to roam a little when imagining a scene. With this I felt incredibly constrained. Everything is explained in painful detail with an over-abundance of adjectives and incredibly long sentences. Some of which are five or six lines long. The matter of fact, everything is just so, writing style made it impossible for me to care for anything that was going on.

Feed The Earth … It’s Hungry by R. C. Rumple {3 out of 5}

In this short, we are treated a post-nuclear war Earth where mankind is down to double figures as far as population goes. The mutated fauna of this new Earth is doing its level best to make sure double figures goes down to zero. The idea for this one was a good one, but the lack of character work and overview style of storytelling made it impossible for me to care about the POV character.

There Is Only A Hole There Now by Zachary Ashford {3 out of 5}

This is the tale of a group of kids who find a schoolmate murdered near their treehouse. They see a monster-like being and thereafter begin to experience tragedies. The writing in this one was quite strong but the storytelling less so. Scenes were very short and constantly jumped from scene to scene which just made it feel a bit all over the place and difficult to follow. In each new scene, things just seemed to happen without much preamble, making it very hard to actually care about the people it was happening to. I never really felt like I got to know the characters and, because of this, the end felt weird rather than impactful.

Mawmaw’s Beast b David F. Gray {5 out of 5}

This is by far my favourite story in the entire collection, and the only one I gave five stars to. In this one, a young man moves into the home once owned by his now deceased grandmother. He remembers there being a beast within the home, and that beast remembers him. This had everything that a truly great short story needs. It had great writing, great pacing and great character work. It even had a strong ending, something that is notoriously hard to achieve in short fiction (and something the rest of this anthology struggled with). For every story in this anthology I lacked enthusiasm for, I was still happy I picked it up due to to this one.

The Cursed Stag by Nils Visser {4 out 5} 

This is, by far, the longest story in the collection. This fact lets the author tell more of a complete story and really give the reader a chance to get to know the world and the characters far better. It is set in Roman times and revolves around the hardship of twin slave sisters. The only real negative I had with this piece was that when the author used a roman word/place name they would then put the English equivalent in brackets. Some people may enjoy that, but for me it just slammed the breaks on and completely ruined the flow of any sentence it was introduced into. One really neat aspect of this story is that, as the post script mentions, it was inspired by Roman remains found in 1936, which is incredibly cool.

Quake by P. J. Blakey-Novis {4 out of 5}

I’ve read, and enjoyed, a good deal of Blakey-Novis’ work in the past so I was expecting good story-telling. Quake is the tale of a young man who is earthquake equivalent of a storm chaser. It tells of the unexpected horrors he finds when he finally gets inside the chasm left by an earthquake. Both the writing and the story concept were fantastic. My only negative is that I just felt the ending was lacking a little something something. Despite that, this is still one of the best stories in this collection as far as I am concerned.

Bad Fishin’ by Liam Bradley [3 out of 5}

In this story, a family fishing trip gets off to a bad start when one of the kids starts exhibiting some seriously creepy behaviour. I really enjoyed reading this. Both the writing and concept was good and the creepy vibes from the kids really shone through. The main negative, and it was a big one, was that the creepiness was done so well that, when the time for the pay-off came at the end, it just felt very lacklustre. It felt like nothing was done with the creepiness.

Sinkhole by Dale Parnell {3 out of 5}

Sinkhole is the final tale in this anthology and tells of a man who was awoken by the strange sensation of something unexpected happening within the night. After a short while he discovers an unexplainable sinkhole has appeared in his back yard. The idea was pretty good with this one and I get that something within the hole was exerting some kind of pull over the main character’s mind, but that wasn’t really shown very well. A lot of what happened could have been passed off as accidental and it wasn’t until the end that I was certain of what was happening. A good idea that could have been explained a tad better along the way.

7 thoughts on “Elements of Horror: Earth (Short Story Anthology)- A Book Review

  1. I’m usually not a really big fan of short story collections. The problem with these being there are some good ones, but there are also mediocre ones and even bad ones. But that said, that doesn’t mean I hate them, as I’ve had my fair share of good short tales as well😊 This doesn sound like a bit of a mixed bag again, but I do like the sound of some of these especially the one you gave five stars too, as well as the one with the boys exploring the tunnels beneath London. Glad that for the most part this was enjoyable😀😀

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Despite being a writer of short stories, I don’t often read anthologies This might be something I’ll have to pick up, though. Also, I like your method of rating anthologies! Definitely a system I might have to adopt next time I read one. It makes sense to use a rating system like that because short story collections can be so hit and miss. It’s definitely better to rate each story individually.

    Great review!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you 🙂

      I also write shorts, when not toiling over novels, so it’s odd I don’t get excited to pick anthologies up.

      Thanks 🙂 it’s way easier than trying to write a general overview and it just gives a super-easy overall rating 🙂 also means I can start an anthology today, write the mini reviews in my notebook and finish the anthology ten years from now and not forget what I wanted to write for my review haha

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Sorry this didn’t work for you – in my experience, anthologies are usually a mixed bag and I’m happy if I find one or two stories that I really love; the rest is usually quite forgettable. Still, maybe it was worth it for this one story you loved 😀

    Liked by 1 person

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