“Wicked Brew: Nine Tales of Misdeeds and Regrets” is an anthology of short stories by Allison M. Dickson, and it provides just what the title promises: entertaining tales full of characters doing very bad things, often to disturbing effect.
In “A Debacle of Donuts,” which starts off the book and is one of the highlights, Claire is a wife struggling with her weight—though her husband doesn’t seem to mind and in fact actively undermines her efforts to be healthier. It’s not until Claire buys some special—and very odd—lottery tickets that fate begins to grant her wishes in a twisted way. Another gem goes more classic gore-fest—in “Liar’s Tongue” a shady politician goes too far to cover up an illegitimate daughter, and the ending of the story may be an image that sticks in your mind for longer than you’d like.
“Wicked Brew” also brings the reader a cheating husband and a GPS with a life of its own, a house that’s infested with more than your average vermin, a canasta game with incredibly high stakes, and more. Each of the stories is completely different from the one that comes before it, which provides a nice variety—and they also do a good job of provoking more emotions than just horror. For instance, in “George’s Tonic,” where one man deals with his neighbor’s ugly pineapple fountain in his own special way, you become wrapped up in George’s revenge but also disgusted by it and how you root for him to get away with it. In “Under the Scotch Broom,” you struggle with the appeal of a scientist who can create a drug that cures all kinds of diseases—but who discovered the panacea through murder.
It’s these kind of horror stories, that not only create vivid images in your imagination but also make you a little uncomfortable in your conscience, that stand above others in the genre and make for frightening, compelling reads. This group of horror stories intrigue and disturb with more than the standard fright-fest tactics. A unique and memorable read!