This is an annual anthology born of the multi-genre conference AnthoCon. Despite the title, the conference is in its third year, but since only former attendees can submit to the tome, this would be it's second annual publication. What a great idea born from a great lit conference!
Edited by jOhnny Morse, the book contains twenty-nine stories (a couple of which are poems) and five pieces of artwork.
Well worth reading from cover to cover, this anthology reflects the conference itself quite well. A number of the stories touch upon horror in one way or another. I think the genre in general has been maligned since it's quite clear that adversity in our lives defines everything about us. What could be more defining than a life threatening situation or a great loss?
For the disturbing mysterious force genre, a few standouts would be John Goodrich's "A Poor Sinner's Hands" which puts a fresh spin on the Old Gods mythos, and G. Elmer Munson's "Cooking With Kate" lets us know just how horribly wrong a reality cooking show can get. Craig D.B. Patton's "Unknown Caller" is about the creepiest thing a phone booth could ever do. Psychological or "secular" horror, as one of my friends puts it, has a strong showing here. Holly Newstein's "Eight Minutes" will break your heart three ways under the Big Top, Bracken MacLeod's "Mine, Not Yours" is another emotional roller-coaster ride featuring the kind of demented horror house that only a church could come up with, and T.G. Arsenault's "My Aching Black Heart" is sadness transferred right from heart to ink. We've got science fiction in the form of advanced science with David North-Martino's "The Interloper" demonstrating how far a scientist would go for love, Scott Christian Carr's "M.A.D.D." is largely a human interest story set in a damaged future where jealousy and mechanized armor collide, and "Dead Letter Office" by Robert Davies takes us into queasy bizarro territory when a man has an illicit relationship with an obviously powerful man's wife. Ghost stories of multiple sorts are featured here as well with T.T. Zuma's "The Soldier's Wife" which is as much a tribute to the military and honor as it is horrific, "The Dying House" by B.E. Scully wherein a town learns how steep a price it has to pay for a cursed piece of real estate, and many more standouts from weird western to creepy dolls and subversive demons to hidden devils.
All in all, "Anthology: Year Two, Inner Demons Out" is a pleasing read, touching with nuance on multiple genres that are made all the more entertaining by great writers. I enjoyed the vast majority of the original work in this anthology, feeling not one bit out of place moving through this diverse group of stories.