‘Beautiful Atrocities’: a stunning, painful, haunting collection of short stories

October 25, 2022

TITLE: Beautiful Atrocities
AUTHOR: Ross Jeffery
GENRE: Horror
PAGES: 166pg
PUBLISHER: Cemetery Gates Media

“Even though most of the stories contained in this collection deal with cruelty in some form, one must not forget the importance of the word ‘beauty’ when coupled with the word ‘cruelty’. Ross executes these moments of barbarity, of viciousness, of unbridled depravity with the tenderness and care of an accomplished surgeon. Of course, this unique coupling of ‘beauty’ and ‘cruelty’ conjures the likes of writers who have dabbled in the area before with uncompromising skill and verve. I think of authors such as Clive Barker or Michael McDowell veterans of the grotesquely beautiful horror, writers who conjured the most horrific and unsettling images and rendered them as things of beauty.”
Eric LaRocca – Author of ‘Things Have Gotten Worse Since We Last Spoke”

Beautiful Atrocities collects eighteen stories of literary dark fiction from the Bram Stoker Award-nominated author Ross Jeffery, who terrified us with the sensational Juniper series. These chilling stories run the gamut of modern horror and will leave the reader entertained, breathless and horrified in equal measure but still wanting to turn the page.

This is a masterful debut collection from one of horror’s bright shining lights.

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This was my first time reading Ross Jeffery’s work, and I’m so glad that I did, because I really enjoyed this collection! It’s a heavy, tough read at times, as Ross doesn’t hesitate to tackle serious and difficult topics, but it’s also creepy, melancholy, and lovely.

I won’t go into each story individually since there are so many of them (clocking in at a lengthy 18 stories), but I do want to say a few were stand-out favorites. It was a bit tough to narrow things down since I loved so many, but here are a few that have really lingered with me after putting the book down:

• ‘One Piece Remains’: the very first story kicks off with a surprising, gory tale of a narrator who keeps receiving very unfortunate packages. I didn’t see this ending coming and was taken aback in the best way; it’s one of those collection introductions that holds no punches and lets you know that you should go ahead and buckle up, because you’re in for quite a ride.

• ‘When it is Truly Time’: the second story shifted gears into a very different tone that I quickly realized Ross excels at, which is horror that breaks your heart. I knew this story was going in a painful direction, but I was still left a little raw when I realized the full extent of the protagonist’s source of pain.

• ‘Hail Maud Full of Grace’: I can’t say much about the feelings this story left me with, mostly because they’d be spoiling the entire thing for you, but what I will say is that this is definitely a story with potential for polarizing its readers tremendously, and I definitely fell on the side of folks who enjoyed seeing the tables turned for once.

• ‘Beautiful Atrocities’: I am nothing if not a sucker for revenge stories, and while this collection as a whole features multiple occurrences of abuse victims getting their justice one way or another, this one explored the theme in my favorite way. It was such a fun, bizarre way of carrying out this protagonist’s revenge on his abuser and I loved rooting for him the whole way.

Like I said, while these were my favorites, it was really hard to narrow things down to just a few because I loved the collection so much as a whole! Not only is it deeply unsettling, violent, and frightening, but it’s also full of a ton of heart and emotion and tragedy. Ross Jeffery’s writing is absolutely lovely and I am so happy to have read this. I can’t wait to pick up more of his work and highly recommend this anthology to anyone who enjoys horror shorts.

Thank you to the publisher for the review copy! All thoughts are honest and my own.

content warnings →

violence, murder, death, gore, body horror, abuse, cancer, ableism, PTSD, child loss, grief, alcoholism, police brutality

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More about Destiny @ Howling Libraries

Just a horror aficionado/geek girl trying to juggle motherhood, reading, blogging, gaming, and everyday life.


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