The Five Senses of Horror – ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ book review

The Five Senses of Horror



Eric J. Guignard (Editor), Ramsey Campbell (Contributor), Darrell Schweitzer (Contributor)Lisa Morton  (Contributor)Lucy Taylor (Contributor)Kathryn Ptacek (Contributor)

Sarah Totton (Contributor)Poppy Z. Brite (Contributor)Sarah Singleton (Contributor)Lisa L. Hannett (Contributor)Richard Christian Matheson (Contributor)Norman Prentiss (Contributor)David McGroarty (Contributor)Chris Bell (Contributor)John F.D. Taff (Contributor)John Farris (Contributor)Jessica Bayliss (Commentary)K.H. Vaughan (Afterword)Nils Bross (Illustrator)


Dark Moon Books


Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads: Hearing, sight, touch, smell, and taste: Our impressions of the world are formed by our five senses, and so too are our fears, our imaginations, and our captivation in reading fiction stories that embrace these senses. Whether hearing the song of infernal caverns, tasting the erotic kiss of treachery, or smelling the lush fragrance of a fiend, enclosed within this anthology are fifteen horror and dark fantasy tales that will quicken the beat of fear, sweeten the flavor of wonder, sharpen the spike of thrills, and otherwise brighten the marvel of storytelling that is found resonant!

Editor Eric J. Guignard and psychologist Jessica Bayliss, PhD also include companion discourse throughout, offering academic and literary insight as well as psychological commentary examining the physiology of our senses, why each of our senses are engaged by dark fiction stories, and how it all inspires writers to continually churn out ideas in uncommon and invigorating ways.

Featuring stunning interior illustrations by Nils Bross, and including fiction short stories by such world-renowned authors as John Farris, Ramsey Campbell, Poppy Z. Brite, Darrell Schweitzer, and Richard Christian Matheson, amongst others. Intended for readers, writers, and students alike, explore THE FIVE SENSES OF HORROR!”

Table of Contents includes:

“Preface: The Five Senses of Horror” by Eric J. Guignard
“Introduction: Why Do Horror Stories Work? The Psychobiology of Horror” by Jessica Bayliss, PhD
“Thoughts About the Sense of Touch” by Jessica Bayliss, PhD
“Heading Home” by Ramsey Campbell
“Soft” by Darrell Schweitzer
“Feel the Noise” by Lisa Morton
“Thoughts About the Sense of Hearing” by Jessica Bayliss, PhD 
“In the Cave of the Delicate Singers” by Lucy Taylor
“Sounds” by Kathryn Ptacek
“Malleus, Incus, Stapes” by Sarah Totton
“Thoughts About the Sense of Taste” by Jessica Bayliss, PhD
“His Mouth Will Taste of Wormwood” by Poppy Z. Brite
“Cassilago’s Wife” by Sarah Singleton
“Sweet Subtleties” by Lisa L. Hannett
“Thoughts About the Sense of Sight” by Jessica Bayliss, PhD
“The Beholder” by Richard Christian Matheson
“In the Porches of My Ears” by Norman Prentiss
“The Impression of Craig Shee” by David McGroarty
“Thoughts About the Sense of Smell” by Jessica Bayliss, PhD
“Shem-el-Nessim: An Inspiration in Perfume” by Chris Bell
“The Scent” by John F.D. Taff
“The Odor of Violets” by John Farris
“Understanding and Incorporating the Five Human Senses into Modern Horror Short Fiction Writing” by Eric J. Guignard
“Afterword: Sensation and Perception” by K. H. Vaughan, PhD 
“Suggested Academic Reading for Further Study”
“A Brief Reading List of Modern Fiction Short Stories with Relation to the Senses (1940–2015)”


Our five senses: Touch, Hearing, Sight, Taste and Smell. All of which are explained and explored from both a psychological perspective, and from that of the horror writer.

Thank you to Eric J. Guignard and Dark Moon Books for allowing to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

A wonderful collection of short horror stories, split into five sections (the five senses obviously), all with fascinating introductions explaining the psychology behind the sense. I found those introductions, courtesy of Jessica Bayliss, PhD, very insightful and thought provoking. The short stories themselves were all very well chosen, fitting in even so well with their specific sense. The introductions for me seemed to also add to the feelings I had while reading each story. It felt like the explanations to our responses to fear stimuli actually invoked a fear response from me before I read the story itself. That may have been helped along though by a long discussion about the fear of spiders – I hate spiders.

It’s quite difficult to choose a favourite. They are all so good. If pressed though, I would have to pick ‘In the Cave of Delicate Singers’ by Lucy Taylor. This short story I found to be especially haunting.

***beware of spoilers***

The Brotterling cave complex is a deep network of caves, chambers and tunnels, with a dark history behind it.

This doesn’t sway Matthew and Lionel Hargave, brothers, and experienced cavers. They both went in, but only one, Lionel, returned. In a cruel twist of fate, Lionel was the lucky one; he had lost his hearing in Iraq years courtesy of a roadside IED. This terrible accident was what saved his life here; he could not be called by the maddening siren song within the depths of the cave.

A search and rescue team are dispatched, confident and disbelieving of the rumours and stories of death. They are soon to find out the caves history is all too real.

Karyn, a junior member of the team goes solo against orders to try and rescue her friends. What she finds are mutilated corpses, her friend and one time lover, Pree, being absorbed into the cave itself.

This is a song that must be heard.


“Madness made tangible. 

Contagion by sound.

It spews from my lips – a song of such deadly beauty and unholy allure that I experience only the briefest frisson of horror – an emotion something inside me instantly quells – when their mouths fall open, songstruck, enthralled, and they begin to rend their own flesh and tear each other apart”


A story that definitely resonates with today’s busy modern world of chaos is ‘Sounds’, by Kathryn Ptacek. This tells a tale of a woman plagued by sound – the constant din of the town where they live, the never ceasing intrusive soundtrack of life – to the point of madness. 

This is a particularly relevant story I felt, especially as I live in quite a built up area. We never get complete peace and quiet. There is always something going on. Whether it be the neighbours banging, cars revving, the garbage truck or the mail. There is always noise of some description. It is never ending. It’s easy to see how very real this story’s conclusion could become in today’s society.

What is most frightening though, is that we have done this to ourselves.

This is a wonderful anthology of stories from some great authors, which will appeal to all walks of horror fan. It contains a wonderful mix of the paranormal, the supernatural, as well as the most terrifying side of the human condition.

Highly recommended and worth a read as soon as you get the chance.

Available via Amazon (UK) here:

Dark Moon Books:


Lesley-Ann (Housewife of Horror)



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