Review: “How to Recognize a Demon Has Become Your Friend,” Linda Addison

Rating: 5 out of 5

When I bought Linda Addison’s horror collection How To Recognize A Demon Has Become Your Friend, I didn’t realize there was quite a bit of poetry in among the stories. I’m not much of a poetry reader, and I won’t comment on it here because I don’t have a lot to say about it except “I thought it was good.” But what I can tell you, is that the stories in here are so good that even if you’re the kind of person who skips over poetry, you will totally get your money’s worth with this book. The stories are that good.

“The Power” is a great story about cousins Brenda and Angelique, who share a certain inherited ability. It kind of seems like the scary neighbor has an interest in them, and it isn’t good. I love the characters of Brenda and Angelique, and you’ll see adult versions of them in a later story, “Milez to Go.” In that tale, Addison seamlessly blends bio-engineering with folk magic, which is difficult to do.

My absolute favorite story in here–the one that could justify the price of the entire book–is “369 Gates of Hell.” A bodyguard named Redi Thomas, who used to be an assassin, is offered one more assassination job. The prize? The ghosts of the people she’s killed will stop haunting her. I could never have imagined where this one would go, and it’s just amazing.

There are multiple stories just kind of exploring the lines between life and death, such as “Dust to Dust” and “Night of the Living and Dead.”

A couple of pieces are either humorous or whimsical in nature, such as “Excerpts from the Unabridged Traveler’s Guide as UFOs in Galaxy A.G.2.,” “Artificial Unintelligence,” “Live and Let Live,” (aliens!) and “Am I Repeating Myself?” Not to mention “Unrequited,” which is both whimsical and explores that line between life and death–in it, a zombie seems to have a strange urge that he’s trying to follow.

There are also a couple of more serious stories that examine things like emotional abuse and bullying. This is truly a wide-ranging collection, one that’s extremely well-written. I hope to read more by Ms. Addison!

Content note: some body horror, decomposition, torture.

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