I was in high school and college in the late 90’s and early 2000’s and the movie Se7en with Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman came out in 1995. I loved that movie. Not just the violence and story, but the twist. I loved the whole thing and I watched it over and over. Especially in my college days, if there was nothing else to watch, I would throw on Se7en or Tommy Boy depending on my mood. The point of this is, whenever I heard or read the term “seven deadly sins,” my thoughts always turned to the movie Se7en. It wasn’t a conscious decision, but my repeated exposure to the movie left a mark on me.
All that changed as I made my way through this incredible collection, The Seven Deadliest. Now when I hear someone mention the seven deadly sins I won’t always automatically think of the movie, because the stories in this anthology are so good they change the way you think about the sins. I don’t want to talk about all of the stories in the anthology, but there are a few I want to point out for various reasons.
The first story, GILDA by John C Foster was a great way to start off the book. It was easy to get into and engaging. When I read books I’m writing a review for, I always keep notes of things I want to mention. The first thing I wrote for this story was that it reminded me of GHOST STORY by Peter Straub and I was happy to see Foster mention that novel in his notes on the story.
Next is A SHORT MADNESS by Bracken MacLeod. All of the stories in this were great, but this one was my favorite. Great visuals and it involves a story anyone could easily identify with. MacLeod’s voice in this story is so easy-going it pulls you through the story and makes you want to keep turning the page.
Following that is CAP DIAMANT by Kasey Lansdale. I haven’t read any of her work prior to this but after this story, I plan on it. I am huge fan of historical horror and this is an extremely well written story about the sin of Pride.
Brian Kirk takes on the sin of jealousy in CHISEL AND STONE which was different than what I was expecting but I thoroughly enjoyed the story. Kirk always has a great voice and his protagonists always shine. This story is timely and supremely entertaining.
The sin of sloth is next with CLEVENGERS OF THE CARRION SEA is next by Rena Mason. As I said before historical horror is my thing and I fell right into this story as I did with the Lansdale story. This one also has the distinction of having the best first line of any story in the anthology.
Richard Thomas is up next with the sin of lust in the story RING OF FIRE. I had a hard time getting into this story like I did with the others. I’m sure it’s just me, because the writing was spot on and I usually love Thomas’s short stories. Its not that I didn’t like the story, I just didn’t love it as much as some of the others in the anthology. I think I’ll chalk this one up to me having a bad day when I read it.
Gluttony is the sin saved for last. I don’t know if it was done on purpose or not, but ALL YOU CARE TO EAT by John FD Taff was a perfect way to end the book. As with every Taff story I’ve read, it is easy to find yourself emerged in the world he creates. The idea itself is creative and as with other Taff stories I’ve read, it is incredibly visual. The images this story provides are phenomenal and it is a perfect, fun way to end the collection.
Overall, I loved the way the book was put together. Each story leads naturally to the next one. This is not just an anthology or random short stories. It’s hard to put a finger on, but there is thread that weaves its way through each of these stories beyond the fact that they all deal with one (or more) of the seven deadly sins. The stories are all related to each other and together they create an anthology that gets a solid 5/5 from me.
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