{Book Review} Shallow Waters Vol. 1: A Flash Fiction Anthology


Shallow Waters Vol. 1 is a cool anthology out of Crystal Lake Publishing. They have been producing some great stuff from some really great authors over the past couple of years. Crystal Lake Publishing started posting monthly writing prompt challenges. The flash pieces that fill this anthology were considered the best of the bunch. I don’t know how many the publisher had to choose from, but with all anthologies, some stories just didn’t do it for me, while others hit the spot. As always, I will talk about the ones I enjoyed. That’s not to say the other stories aren’t good, they just didn’t do anything for me. But here are some of the stories I thought rose above the rest.

“Fast Car” by Tracy Fahey is about young love. A lady works at a diner, while her boyfriend drives a beat up old car. She pokes fun at his crappy car, and he speeds away from the bickering and fighting. It is tragic and has a twinge of ghostly vibes. Reminds me of an episode of Are You Afraid of the Dark?, a show from the early 90s on Nickelodeon.

“Puzzle Pieces” by Armand Rosamilia is about collecting things, which ultimately turns into hoarding. It is a story of mental health. You can feel the unease right away. Each item has a purpose, so you can’t get rid of it. It’s thoroughly disturbing.

“Pretty Like Butterflies” by Tim Waggoner might be the scariest story I’ve ever read. It is all kinds of creepy turned up to 11. The way this story is written is truly outstanding. I have to give it to Tim Waggoner because he got me. He takes the normal and turns it on its head. In fact, I still think I’m stuck in that house, but I’m not pretty like a butterfly. It’s an engrossing little tale.

“Memory Lane” by Red Lagoe is crazy good. It brought tears to my eyes. One helluva twist ending for a flash piece. One of the best flash pieces I’ve ever read. It will stir up all kinds of emotions.

What is more, I thought this anthology was pretty solid. I didn’t like how the stories were arranged. When it comes to anthologies, arrangement is key. Overall, I enjoyed reading the wide variety of horror stories. There’s something in here for every horror fan to love and enjoy. This anthology is filled with some great authors, as well. I was impressed with the lineup. And now I’m even more excited about the second volume. I believe it has already dropped. I’m going to making it a point to read Vol. 2 sooner than later. The cover is awesome. I like how they did the skull. Be careful because flash fiction is addicting. You may end up reading this one in one sitting. This anthology is easy to read on the go or on a break. You can either purchase a copy or get it on Kindle Unlimited, either way helps the authors and the publisher. Solid anthology.

Shallow Waters—where nothing stays buried.

With twenty-two dark tales diving beneath the surface of loss, love, and life.

Shallow Waters is the official monthly flash fiction challenge hosted by the award-winning Crystal Lake Publishing. Every month a new challenge is posted online, with authors submitting via email. The best submissions are then posted on Crystal Lake’s Patreon page, where patrons read daily entries and vote for the winner. What you’ll find in these Shallow Waters anthologies include the most popular of our finalists.

Stay tuned for more volumes in this series, or find Crystal Lake Publishing on Patreon to enter or vote on future challenges.

Volume one includes horror, thrillers, suspense, and stories of love lost, death, 2nd chances, the monsters within, and the beauty beneath it all.

Introduction by Joe Mynhardt
“Closure on a Bed of Nails” by Chad Lutzke
“Fast Car” by Tracy Fahey
“Tears of Buddy” by Patrick R. McDonough
“Puzzle Pieces” by Armand Rosamilia
“Pretty Like Butterflies” by Tim Waggoner
“S1:E7” by Robert Ford
“Pain is Your Teacher” by Michael Harris Cohen
“Memory Lane” by Red Lagoe
“The Silence of the Sirens” by Loren Rhoads
“It’s Me Not You” by Jonathan Winn
“Sisters of Loss” by Mark Allan Gunnells
“Talisman” by Jezzy Wolfe
“The Melting of Your Gods” by Mercedes M. Yardley
“Charms” by Dino Parenti
“Not Your Average Monster” by Kenneth W. Cain
“Where the Children Run in Darkness” by Guy Medley
“Tunnels” by Tom Over (winner)
“The Truth about Dani” by Joe Mercer
“Baby Savannah” by M.J. Sydney
“Rats Scratched in the Linen Cupboard” by Dani Brown

“Raining” by John Boden
“The Death Experience” by L.A. Story

In this volume…

  • Taunted by a cactus, a man copes with grief after the loss of his wife.
  • Alondra DeCourval visits Franz Kafka’s grave to think about death.
  • A lovestruck woman strives to connect with a man she’s convinced is The One.
  • The perfect funeral for a child—all according to a Mother’s well-crafted plan. The exception is one small, unexpected development no one could have ever prepared for.
  • A short meditation on the haunting nature of love and loss, and the aftermath of both.
  • Victor’s sanity has been threaded together by the memory of his daughter’s voice, until now, when her laughter falls silent.
  • An adrenaline junkie believes he can take on the ultimate challenge—coming back from the dead.
  • Sisters share everything. The good…and the bad.
  • Sometimes being a hoarder is dangerous…
  • In our ever-changing world, what we view as a monster is constantly evolving…but at what cost?
  • Buddy’s heart aches for his family’s arrival.
  • Bright colors may be beautiful, but sometimes they can be dangerous.
  • Sometimes the darkness we harbor within is best left behind closed doors.
  • Rats scratch in the children’s ward.
  • A surprise wedding present from daughter to father, built over a lifetime, reveals his true nature to all his guests.
  • Can a mourning Mallory find comfort before she loses her mind?
  • While coming to terms with the death of his mother a man learns that he harbours a strange ability, one that could threaten to tear his reality apart.
  • A woman’s last letter to her abusive ex-husband returns the favor of his tutelage.
  • Lillian’s search for her daughter’s doll leads her on a journey through tragedy, loss, and madness.
  • The brutal murder a man’s only child leaves him burdened with a question only he can answer.

Proudly brought to you by Crystal Lake Publishing—Tales from the Darkest Depths.

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