Collected together for the first time ever, these sixteen provocative and intensely chilling tales 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 Baxter’s unique voice that effortlessly blends horror, fantasy and the weird, cementing his place as a modern master of the dark fantastique, and resulting in an unforgettable volume of fiction.
SERVED COLD is a collection of sixteen eerily told short stories that I devoured one by one. I read this over a few days which is unusual for me, but it just felt right to go slow. Every story is unique, but they are all cohesively written with complex characters in ordinary settings until something dreadful or ghastly shows up.
There are a couple of stories that remind me of the show Black Mirror, such as THE GOODBYE MESSAGE and CRYING DEMON. Baxter writes in such a way that the horror appears in vignettes. And it quietly sneaks up on you how disturbing the story actually is.
Each story is well written, thought provoking, visceral, and haunting. I feel like I could take each one apart and analyze it for several meanings. Baxter writes with precision: his words are keenly sharp and what you read is all the reader needs to know.
Here are the stories that I individually rate ★★★★★:
SERVED COLD – a boy who practices self harm but ends up with a supernatural ability
EXPOSURE COMPENSATION – a perfect revenge story
EXQUISITE – a burglar in a gruesome encounter
HOW FATHER BRYANT SAW THE LIGHT – Oh do I love the Gangle Man
THE GOODBYE MESSAGE – I can’t get this story out of my head
THE OCEAN HUSHED THE STONES – a dream you can’t forget
CRYING DEMON – a darkweb urban legend done right
IN VAULTED HALLS ENTOMBED – a group of soldiers in a disturbing adventure
HER GRIEF IN MY HALLS – a ghost story with an interesting premise
WATERS STRANGELY CLEAR – a perfect story with a perfect ending
YELLOWHEART – friends on a trip + fun tropes
This is my first time reading Baxter’s work and I have to say it was the perfect introduction. I immediately purchased DEVOURING DARK and MANIFEST RECALL – from what I can tell they are all drastically different from each other so color me intrigued!