Title: Served Cold
Author: Alan Baxter
Page Count: 299 pages
Rating: 5 / 5 ✨✨✨✨✨
Collected together for the first time ever, these sixteen provocative and intensely chilling tales by multi-award-winning-author Alan Baxter venture into the depths of the darkest and most shadowy places where unspeakable horrors are the predators and we the willing prey.
Prepare for an always terrifying, frequently heartbreaking journey in multiple stages, each piece echoing Alan Baxter’s unique voice that effortlessly blends horror, fantasy and the weird with elements of the dark fantastique, resulting in an unforgettable volume of fiction.
Wow, what an amazing way to end a great year of reading! I finished this one a few hours before midnight on the 31st, and I’m so happy with the choice to wrap it up over anything else I was in the middle of reading – I absolutely loved it!
Being totally honest here: I sometimes struggle remembering specific stories as stand-alones when finishing a collection, and I find myself flipping back through the pages or through my notes to jog my memory of what happened, or what the story was about. With Baxter’s 16 short stories in SERVED COLD, I didn’t have that problem at all.
Just from looking at the titles in the table of contents from the book, I can easily recall the chilling scenes written on the pages, able to picture them in my mind due to how vividly the writing conveyed each tale’s situations and characters horrors. This is an absolute stand out collection, and I didn’t rate a single story in it anything less than 4 stars.
Alan Baxter’s ability to fluidly go from writing emotionally impactful horror (The Goodbye Message, pg. 106) to a terrifying adventure story about soldiers and mind-breaking monsters (In Vaulted Halls Entombed, pg. 156) is nothing short of impressive. In this collection, we meet ghosts and gangsters, murderers, demons, and worse. Rather than sticking to any specific theme beyond “darkness”, we go on a journey through doors-that-shouldn’t-be and lethal video games, stay in Lovecraftian hotels and Airbnbs that you wouldn’t wish on your worst enemy.
The range in stories provides something for lovers of different types of horror – there are so many subgenres, and Baxter touches on quite a few of them expertly throughout the collection. His writing is simultaneously ethereal and blunt, allowing the reader to indulge themselves both in gorgeously haunting storytelling, as well as excellent pacing, and plenty of cringe-inducing gore to top it all off. That also isn’t to say that this is a strictly horror collection, as a lot of the stories seem to be heavily influenced by science fiction & fantasy both; obviously, with these being my 3 favorite book genres, this is a huge win for me!
I read this with my Night Worms pals and a few other friends on Instagram for a #nightwormsbookparty, and my friend Janelle mentioned that some of the stories felt like they could be episodes of BLACK MIRROR to her, which I absolutely agree with! In fact, Baxter’s written voice and writing ability is so strongly developed that I could easily picture any of the titles from this collection as incredible screen adaptations – and you’d better bet I’d watch every second of them if they’re ever made!
I can’t recommend this one highly enough, especially to readers who may want to explore horror a bit more in all of its many genres – but it surely won’t disappoint any long term fans of the genre either! Each of the stories is relatively short, which makes the entire collection feel really bite-sized and manageable, which are qualities I love from my short stories ’cause it makes me feel productive! 😉
Very excited to read more from the author in the future, and I’d highly recommend the publisher as well – Grey Matter Press!
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