Lee Murray’s Grotesque: Monster Stories

Goodreads reviews (various)

Review by John Lynch on Ginger Nuts of Horrror

“Grotesque: Monster Stories is an outstanding collection from a fantastic author. Be on the lookout for what’s sure to be one of the top collections of 2020.”

Review by Grimm Deathwish on Horrorfuel

“I highly, highly recommend this book to anyone and everyone who enjoys reading, horror, or both. Order it here and enter the world of Grotesque….I dare you!”

Review by Steve Stred on Kendall Reviews

“Murray has some serious writing chops. This collection of 11 stories runs the gamut of styles and subjects – there really is something for everyone. Historical fiction – check. Lovecraftian Mythos – check. Devastating emotional work – check. Just fantastic stuff.”

Review by Brontë Crawford on Sublime Horror 

“…a compelling collection that invites the reader to escape into its diverse, thought-provoking worlds before devouring them whole.”

Review by Piper Mejia on SpecFicNZ

“Lee is a master at switching perspective to sweep the reader seamlessly from one story to the next while retaining a unique voice. This collection will compel any reader to keep the lights on well into the night.”

Review on Horrortree by Amanda Headlee

“Monsters plague the pages of this anthology, however, not always in the way we would expect them. Some tales have supernatural monsters whilst other tales speak of monsters on a more human level…”

INFECTED 1 and 2

Review on HorrorTree by Brenda Tadych

“here is something in these tales for every horror reader’s preference. Although the title is Tales to Read Alone, the lasting effect of the book is that we’re not alone in this unprecedented time of lockdown with no toilet paper.

The stories dare to explore possible outcomes like cannibalism, military control, and body scanners.

Review on Bookshine and Readbows by Steph Warren

“These stories are for the kind of horror fans who like to flirt with danger, wallow in darkness and scream defiantly into the abyss.  They play on the fears we all have of the silent, invisible death creeping through the population, while we cower helpless to resist.”

Infected 1: Tales to Read at Home review on Ginger Nuts of Horror


Infected Interview on Monster Complex

Tales of the Lost 1: We all Lose Something

Review on Ginger Nuts of Horror


Tales of the Lost Amazon reviews:-

“A fantastic collection of stories!” – Adb304   “A fantastic collection of stories, some better than others, but all a great read. An utterly haunting collection on the horrors of loss. Here are some of my favorites; The opening poem by Christina Sng draws you in. While Bury Me In Tar And Twine grabs you with a dark tale of grief gone bad. Stephen Graham Jones’sMonsters, about innocence lost had me tearing up. I could really go on and on. The editors Steve Dillon and Eugene Johnson knocked this on out of the park! A must read!”   “10/10” – Seth Justice  “Great book! With an amazing line-up from Kevin J. Anderson to Yvonne Navarro. The stories are haunting reminding us of the things we lose in life. The editors did a great job picking some stories that keep you wanting more. I can’t wait for the second volume!”   “A book for Horror Lovers”  H. Rodebaugh  “This book was a great read from start to finish. The stories, carefully curated by Bram Stoker Award winning editor Eugene Johnson, are truly something to behold. Many great authors in this book. Truly a must for fans of horror.”  

Deeper, Darker Things and Other Oddities reviews:-

Review by RE Dillon on Amazon:

“Steve Dillon, no relation by the way, offers us up a collection of the deliciously strange and mind bending. Like a meal of Tapas, each tiny plate explores a new taste sensation that makes the reader lick his or her fingers to greedily devour the next page’s offering.
There’s no gross-out gristle here. If you’re looking for offal, this is not the place. Each bite coats your taste buds and makes you go ‘mmmm…’ Nothing here will ruin your appetite.
I’ll slip you a few yummy nibbles…

  • The Scary Man tells the tale of a boy wrestling with a reoccurring nightmare that plagues him both in his dreams… and afterwards. But it’s the twist at the end that leaves a bitter taste in your mouth and you’re ashamed that you like it.
  • The Marshmallow People is a relatable story for parents enjoying a memorable outing with their kids. If it wasn’t for the rules…. and death… and marshmallows. Sorry, I hate marshmallows.
  • The Floss Man (I’m loving these food themes) could be a parent’s worst nightmare. Divorced couples-this is creepy. Look at your ex-spouse very carefully after munching on this little nugget.

“Do yourself a favor, put on your pants with the stretchy waistband, pour yourself an aperitif and tuck yourself into this delectable morsel. Oh, and don’t forget, when you’re properly stuffed, let out a satisfying BURP, here on Amazon, Goodreads, Twitter, your personal blog, etc. to let everyone know about your find! That’s the highest compliment you can give a master chef of the written word!”

Guilty Pleasures and Other Dark Delights reviews 

Deborah Sheldon on Goodreads :

“A fun, cheeky anthology with a wide range of smutty bite-sized stories. (I’ve got a few drabbles in this one, which I’m leaving out of my review.) High quality fiction across the board, but for me, the stand-out would have to be the suite of interconnected drabbles by Noel Osualdini.”

Nicholas Diak on Goodreads

Guilty Pleasures and Other Dark Delights deviates somewhat from the typical horror drabble formula in that the anthology collects not just standard drabbles, but double drabbles (stories that are 200 words), has a few entries in the tail end that are not drabbles (such as the presence of Ramsey Campbell’s short story “Dolls”) and finally, has a focus on not just horror, but erotic and sexy horror. The end result is a fairly lengthy tome of flash fiction from an array of proficient authors. The sexy subject matter straddles several different story ideas: there’s a fair amount of werewolf action, kidnappings, adulterous vampires, a surprising amount of sex-robot uprisings, and even a few end of the world scenarios… The anthology concludes with a short essay by editor Steve Dillon elaborating on how the collection came about, followed by a printing of Campbell’s “Dolls” which is an exquisite folk-horror erotic story and supplemental commentary by weird fiction scholar S. T. Joshi.

“promises exactly what the title delivers as the anthology showcases a wide arrange of sexual desires, dark and taboo…
Dillon certainly has assembled a unique and fun drabble collection (and after all, isn’t sex supposed to be fun?)”

Trickster’s Treats 3  Reviews:-

Nicholas Diak on Goodreads:

Trickster’s Treats 3: The Seven Deadly Sins is a themed anthology published by Things in The Well that focuses on the infamous seven cardinal vices. The anthology features seven flash/short story length pieces for each sin for a total of forty nine tales. Though the focus is narrow, each story tackles their respective sin in creative and unique ways. For example: while it would be easy to have the gluttony section contain seven stories that focus on overeating, the various stories instead embrace interesting and different ways to explore the subject matter. What follows are the stand out stories for each section.

Trickster’s Treats 3 is full of a variety of stories, and the ones described here are only a small taste of some of the most exquisite tales.

“A focused anthology that still yields a variety of stories in tone and genre, you’d certainly be creating a sin of sorts simply by indulging in its bounty of tales.”

Cover blurb for This Sublime Darkness and Other Dark Stories by Greg Chapman:

Lee Murray: “A macabre collection of seven marrow-shrinking tales, all executed with Chapman’s usual bleak precision”

Review of This Sublime Darkness and Other Dark Stories by Greg Chapman
– Review by William C. Bitner, Jr. in Books In My Library 

“Gothic horror and psychological horror, two of my favorite genre in the vast horror genre, are aplenty in the pages of this brilliantly composed collection of short stories.”

“…each time I read a new one I come away amazed at the fact that this guy gets better with each new publication.  I know when I pick up one of his short stories or novels that I’m in for an experience that I will soon not forget. Always look forward to his next adventure. Highly entertaining and thought provoking horror to be had here folks!”

Reviews of Deeper, Darker Things and Other Oddities (Steve Dillon)

– Review by Rebecca Langham in Aurealis #124

“Steve Dillon is a Melbourne-based writer and editor who lists Clive Barker and H P
Lovecraft among his literary inspirations, influences that can be felt throughout this
new collection of unusual stories and poems. The stories are eclectic and, as with any anthology, readers will find some more enjoyable than others. Expect an array of settings ranging from inexplicable underwater trenches to steam trains hurtling through the old West, and futuristic prisons that keep people in a constant state of isolation and oppression.

“Settings are where Dillon’s strongest writing lies… passages convey an effective sense of place and facilitate connections between reader and narrative.”

Panopticon, exploring the nature of a mysterious box that arrives in the dead of
night, is one of the strongest stories in the collection. Here, there’s a sense of
character, place and suspense that truly draws a reader in. Many will likely enjoy the
poetic contributions also. Taste will account for which specific poems will appeal to
each person, but there’s plenty on offer… Many stories and poems to pick from, there’s something for anyone who enjoys the odd and uncommon.”

Review of Deeper, Darker Things and Other Oddities (Steve Dillon)
Review by Tim Westen on Amazon:

“Such a refreshing read! Every story in this book is a hit! Mr. Dillon creates such vivid characters and puts them into his own shared world reminiscent of Stephen King’s Castle Rock.” 

I Just Thought’ is the kind of story that you think about
days after you read it.”

‘The Priest’s Tale’ (written with David Allen) just left me wanting more. There is some top notch poetry in here as well. I highly recommend you pick up this collection and the author’s first book ‘The Beard and Other Weirdness’ as well!”

Review of The Beard and Other Weirdness

Goodreads Reviews:

“First off I just want to say this man has some great talent and I want to read more of his stuff. This is a great collection of short stories by Steve Dillon, but I will have to say that The Beard (and this is just my opinion), is not the best story in this book. Most of them I loved. One or two were just not for me but all in all I loved it. Very well written and I love his warped mind and sense of humor in some of them. Very dark in others which I love. I would recommend this book to anyone who love horror.”

I love his warped mind and sense of humor in some of them…
Very dark in others, which I love.

Review of The Beard and Other Weirdness (Steve Dillon)
– Review by Paul Flewitt on Facebook:

“Here we have an imaginative short story collection from Australian-based British author and editor, Steve Dillon. What we have on offer is a collection which recalls such horror and dark fantasy writers as Neil Gaiman, Clive Barker and HP Lovecraft. Each story is finely honed and designed to creep into your psyche, gnawing away at your subconscious as Dillon weaves otherworldly horrors from the shadows of the real world. The Beard is the titular story, but far from the only highlight here.

“Ever wanted to question what goes on in the forgotten parts of our towns and cities? I think Steve Dillon has been exploring on your behalf, and has returned with interesting tales to tell.”

Review of The Beard and other Weirdness (Steve Dillon)
– Review by Tabatha Wood on Ginger Nuts of Horror

It seems very fitting that the first story in Steve Dillon’s “The Beard and Other Weirdness” begins with a quote from Clive Barker, being that this particular chilling collection would not be out of place rubbing shoulders with Barker’s works. The cover alone brings up good memories of the Books of Blood and Cabal. I will be honest, it was the artwork painted by Dillon himself which piqued my interest from the start.

Set mostly in the fictional English town of Bliss, this compendium of short stories, novellas and a smattering of dark poems, complement each other nicely, while remaining eerily unsettling. A broad and varied selection of his work, Dillon presents us with the literary equivalent of a well-matured, full-bodied red, accompanying a luscious, bloody steak. Each story leaves you salivating — eager for more from the very first taste.

Dillon is a well established and adept horror fiction writer — he knows exactly how to suck you in and bleed you dry. His writing style is not only gleefully dark, but curiously poetic – there is beauty here as well as terror. Each story is masterfully crafted and thoughtfully arranged. A number of characters reoccur in other tales, and intertwine with one another. They help to weave a dreadful tapestry of the town in its bleak entirety. Little nods to popular culture and other horror fiction bring a sense of realness to the stories. An almost, but not quite, breaking of the fourth wall. My favourite in the collection is the eponymous “Beard”, where long-suffering Denzell Darwin’s life gets progressively worse with each new hair he sprouts.

It’s clear that Dillon has drawn some strong inspiration from a smorgasbord of old-school horror classics, but his skills of reinvention mean that while we can identify the sources of his inspiration, we experience his stories as something gripping, exciting and brand new. As a result each story is as refreshing as it is cleverly nostalgic.

Dillon writes dialogue incredibly well, so much so, every different accent, pause and emphasis lingers in the reader’s ears, as if spoken directly from the page. His characters are well-rounded, often larger than life — the descriptions so good we can almost smell the reek of them. If I had one criticism, it might be that some of them follow a certain stereotype, but all good horror knows its tropes, and Dillon uses these to toy with our expectations — just when we think we have it all figured out, he throws us a deadly curve ball and sends us flying down a completely different path. Whether through 15,000 words or 100, Dillon knows how to maintain an intense and relentless pace.

Finally, like a good cigar after a fine meal, the collection is rounded off by a selection of harrowing poems. No naval-gazing teenage angst here, these are miniature gothic melodies, short enough to read in a few moments, but creepy enough to wriggle around inside your brain for hours.

As a fan of Barker, Campbell, King and Koontz, this collection positively thrilled me. There is absolutely no doubt that Dillon is a horror master, and his style is honed and polished. If you like your fear fiction to linger, “The Beard and Other Weirdness” will certainly scratch an itch.

Thanks, Tabatha Wood – Writing & Creativity for the review, and for these kind words in particular:-

“…chilling collection would not be out of place
rubbing shoulders with (Clive) Barker’s works.”


The Beard and Other Weirdness By Steve Dillon 2018
Fun collection of short stories and novellas April 7, 2019 review by Kevin Johnson

“The Beard and Other Weirdness is a collection of novellas, short stories and very short stories mostly centering around the fictional town of Bliss… The titular tale, being my favorite, focuses on Denzell Darwin. He has recently lost his mother and switched jobs and is struggling just getting through the days. He encounters a frantic, odd looking bearded man on his way to his job and it just gets more difficult from there for him. This encounter sets off a string of events that originated for us, with the bearded homeless man. Little Bastard introduces us to Dean Monroe who is having odd dreams that end up revealing themselves to him over a short time. Circus Runner immerses us to the mystery of the happenings of a circus/carnival and the eerie occurrences not seen by the public.

“A fun aspect of this book is that characters reappear throughout in the stories and you get a feeling of the town as a whole.”

“Definitely recommend this!”

The Beard and Other Weirdness By Steve Dillon 2018
Interesting collection March 19, 2019 Review by Naomi Downing

“an interesting collection. I really liked the mix of novellas, short stories, and poems.”

Review of Beneath the Waves – Tales from the Deep anthology
A wide-ranging collection of high-quality underwater creepiness – 4.5  July 3, 2018 review by Matthew A Bille.   “These 23 tales include classics by Lovecraft, a chapter from Verne, and an array of modern stories about things in lakes and oceans that generally don’t belong there – and certainly don’t belong with humans. Mermaids are represented, but never as lovely and kind maidens of the oceans. Good old-fashioned sea-monsters show up, as do supernatural influences of all kinds. Clive Barker’s The Madonna is, as you’d expect, the hardest to forget, although the frank, bleak language of Shannon Laurence’s A Cold and Carnal Hunger makes it almost as memorable. Then we have the science fiction tale of an ocean turned black, sentient, and deadly, an oil rig that seems to have disturbed something awe-inspiringly scary, and a menace never quite understood that the giant steampunk-y exploration ship in Marie Michaels’ The Music Box wishes it hadn’t found. A Thai boxer lost at sea meets the legends of his people, strange disgusting things wash ashore in England, a cryptozoological tale unfolds in South Africa, and people are lured to destruction – or new life – by the magic of the ocean itself.  

“There is something here for all lovers of the waters who wonder what’s beneath them.”

On The Refuge Collection – Heaven to Some anthology preview by Aaron Sterns, co-writer of Wolf Creek 2 and author of the prequel novel Wolf Creek: Origin

“The Refuge Collection is the most ambitious shared-world horror series to come out of Australia. A horror collection that is both relevant and worthy, a rarity in an often insular field. Not only are there a vast array of stories woven together by some of Australia’s finest writers – Kaaron Warren, Martin Livings, EJ McLaughlin – as well as international masters Paul Kane (UK), Tracie McBride (New Zealand), Lee Murray (New Zealand also) and even a surprise entry by weird fiction luminary, Ramsey Campbell, but proceeds benefit those seeking real life refuge.”

“A horror collection that is both relevant and worthy”
– Aaron Sterns, Wolf Creek 2 co-writer

Review of Below the Stairs – Tales from the Cellar

An interesting anthology revolving around a “basement” theme.  January 10, 2018 Review by J.J. Questore

“When my friend Chad Lutzke told me that he had a story in a new anthology, I just had to read it. Thanks to Steve Dillon for the opportunity to receive an Advanced Reader Copy for a review. Before I begin, I also want to offer my sincerest condolences to Steve for the passing of his mother – my thoughts and prayers are with him.

“BELOW THE STAIRS is a collection of 21 stories, all revolving around that terror of terrors, the basement. For some reason, parents just love to torture their kids by relentlessly having them go down that long series of stairs, usually poorly lit, to get folding chairs or some such thing – always in the far corner. Yes, I was one of those kids. My aunt and uncle had a half finished basement when my grandmother lived. But under the stairs was an alcove – with no light – that I was constantly asked to visit to get things. Not much scares me anymore, but the thought of going down there sends shivers down my spine. If you’ve never experienced that, I envy you.

“So, here’s my breakdown – I’m going to do it a little different than my usual anthology reviews (trying something new). I’m going to write a quick blurb and then give a rating.

“The Thing in the Cellar by David H. Keller – Parents may want to take a cue from their children. You might not think somethings down there, but kids know better. (A)

“The Root Cellar by Toby Bennett – I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be in a basement with regular wall. But if I ever find myself in a root cellar with dirt walls, you can bet I won’t be pulling at things sticking out of them. Not so for Jodie. (B)

“The Basement Apartment by Mark Allan Gunnells – One of my favorites. I’ve recently started reading Mark after getting a taste of his work in another anthology and will be seeking out more from him. This was a great story about the perils of moving out on your own. (A+)

“Trapped by Theresa Derwin – A robber gets more than he bargained for breaking into a house. I felt the tension was there, with no real payoff. (B-)

“Purgatory in Perpetuity by David Turnbull – A girl has to take up the mantel of caring for her grandmother under unusual circumstances. Another favorite of mine. (A+)

“The Cellars by Ramsey Campbell – Truly not sure how I felt about this one. First, who takes a date into catacombs? Be that as it may, some weird stuff happens down there, including a room that shouldn’t be there. (B-)

“Breeding Black by Chad Lutzke – Why this man isn’t on the NY Times Best Seller list is beyond me. Someone needs to open their eyes and check Chad out. This was such a great story about… well, if I actually say, I’ll give it away. (A+)

“The Memory Man by Steve Dillon – Usually any story that starts with whiskey spilling (alcohol abuse in my book) would immediately get an F rating from me (can you tell I’m a whiskey drinker), but not Steve’s story. (A) [would have been an A+ but there’s that whole wasting whiskey thing]

“This was such a mind (insert colorful expletive here) that I can’t begin to do it justice here.”

“Bloodworms by Noel Osualdini – This one was plain weird. It started out very interesting and then wound up like a cross between Lovecraft’s Cthulhu, and Tim Burton’s Sandworm in Beetlejuice. (B)

“Below Deck by K.N. Johnson – A great “ghost story” on a boat. Creepy, and enjoyable. (A)

“An Endless Echo in Every Empty Space by Matthew R Davis – In any anthology, especially one as large as this one, there’s bound to be a “clunker”. This story was that for me. I didn’t get the time-jumping, and the story just didn’t hold my interest at all. (D)

“The Vaults by Katherine Wielechowski – I love to go on Ghost Walks whenever I get a chance. However, after reading this story, I can guarantee I won’t be going on any that take you below ground. (A)

“Creakers by Paul Kane – Look, anyone that has Clive Barker’s endorsement to write about (and within) the Hellraiser canon deserves to be in anything he submits to; and this is no exception. Ray has to deal with selling his parent’s house along with whatever is attached to it – is it memories or something else? (A+)

“The Bone Vine by Erin Cole – Wow, this was just out of the park weird. Meg’s brother-in-law finds an artifact that cures everything, after a little sacrifice, including death. But what is the true cost, really? (B+)

“The Stairwell by Chris Mason – OK, admit it, if you’ve ever stayed at a hotel, or apartment complex, you know there is always that space under the stairs on the first floor, in the stairwell. And how many of us want to look under there, but don’t? Well, Peter knows exactly what’s down there, and doesn’t like it. (A-)

“Below Ground by Charlie Walls – Lots of stories have been written about a race of beings that either exist alongside Man or before Man. Some call them angels, some call them demons, some call them masters, and others call them gods – but almost every culture has something like that. This is a story about what happens if you actually see one when you aren’t supposed to. (A-)

“Hell’s Event by Clive Barker – Does this man even need an introduction? You cannot have even the slightest interest in the horror genre and not know who Clive Barker is. This is a very interesting story about a race for democracy. (A)

“The Watchman by Brian Craddock – I enjoyed this one. Just when you thought you had it figured out, Brian throws you for a loop. While it was quite sad, it was enjoyable, none the less. (A)

“Eyes of Glass by Stephen Herczeg – OK, right below clowns and children of the corn, dolls are in the top five of creepiest things. Dolls that are possessed, well anyone see the movie Annabelle? (A+)

“Under the Pyramids by H.P. Lovecraft with Harry Houdini – I’m a huge fan of Lovecraft and Houdini, but this story left me flat. Harry is in Egypt and after being abducted discovers a realm where monsters dwell. (C)

“Warding by Kev Harrison – A nice way to end the anthology. Witchcraft, spells, bindings, and finding things in a new house that you shouldn’t. (A)

“There you have it. This was a HUGE tome that took me a while to get through. There’s some very good stuff between these covers, but then some that just didn’t have that wow factor for me.

“What I do like is when an anthology has a theme like this. Rather than random stories, they all have something in common.”

“It’s interesting to see what authors come up with to match the editor’s vision.”