Invitation to a Nightmare: Short Stories of the Macabre by CLIVE OWEN BARRY (Book Review)

From the pen of Clive Owen Barry comes a collection of terror.

The likes of the repentant grave robber, to the single mother who inadvertently sought refuge in the home of a serial killer, or the wealthy wine merchant, possessed by the image of a beautiful woman.

Shadows that haunt the darkest corner of your imagination, to the violence inflicted by a deformed lunatic, severing body parts within the city slums.

These together with so many other gruesome tales of the macabre, can be found haunting the pages of this single volume of short stories, ready and eager to torment your peaceful slumber.

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I received a complimentary copy of this book from Reedsy Discovery.  I voluntarily chose to read and post an honest review.


Invitation to a Nightmare houses a collection of haunting tales focusing on the unexplained, the unimaginable, and even plausible scenarios. 

While the synopsis states this is an anthology of short stories, that is not an accurate characterization of the contents. Five of the fourteen works read more like poems or one-page inner thoughts. “Nightmare” begins the collection and is a prime example of what I would consider a poem rather than a short tale. This poem and the others created will get your heart racing. They’ll have you flicking on lights, making you notice every noise in your home. They were frightfully well-constructed. The short stories, though, had a more profound effect on me. 

Serial killers are real. People are capable of horrendous, hideous acts of violence. “Does The Bogeyman Live Downstairs?” is a work of fiction, but the real possibility that such evil might reside in the world, might your neighbor amped up the fear factor of this story. Taxidermy always creeped me out before the story. My feelings regarding it have not changed. Thanks to this cringe-worthy story, I will never look at a stuffed animal the same way again. 

Another realistic story that gave me the shivers was “Dark Shadows.” How frightening it must be to question your own sanity. To discover that your nightmares have become a reality. I felt every bit of Claire’s anguish. Her pain was undeniable. I would commend her on her powerful performance if she were an actress. 

Other short works had a different effect. “The House In Belvedere County” contained a shocking twist, but this story lacked genuine emotion. The narrator spoke of brutal murders in the same tone one would talk about the weather. The only saving grace to this tale was the mic drop moment. 

Monotone is how I’d describe most of the works in the anthology. Sure, pieces like “The Hangman,” “Torment,” and “Portrait” were creepy, but they were one-dimensional. They didn’t wow me. I wish more material resembled “We Wish You A…” It’s the type of supernatural story that has you feeling a character’s confusion and fear. Plus, what an ending! 

The foundation for the anthology was good. The author does have a vivid imagination. They know how to tap into the supernatural and real-world equally well. However, they were several editing mistakes, and most characters and stories felt lifeless, like the corpses in the stories. 

This anthology does have good bones. Many readers will find some of the stories terrifying. And, the author does give you what they promised, stories that will “torment your peaceful slumber.”


Heart Rating System:
1 (lowest) and 5 (highest) 

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Meet the Author

Clive Owen Barry is a British author living in the north east of England. Together with short stories of dark literary fiction he has independently published adult crime novels, as well as mid-grade fantasy novella’s and more recently a collection of short stories of the macabre.

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