The White Guy Dies First: 13 Scary Stories of Fear and Power

Tor Teen. Jul. 2024. 320p. ed. by Benton-Walker, Terry J., ed. Tr $20.99. ISBN 9781250861269.
Gr 8 Up–An undying love for all things creepy leads an online community of horror fans to discover 13 unread short stories surrounded by mystery. But how much is just a story, and how much is inspired by real life? This collection, all by authors of color, are tales where the white guy, finally, dies first. Benton-Walker compiles a horror collection that may not always unsettle readers but will certainly encourage them to reflect on societal expectations and stereotypes. If the title doesn’t intrigue, the initial world establishment will tantalize and delightfully prepare readers for the ghastly tales. Blatant racism, corrupt governments, and struggles with mental health abound in this compilation that successfully tackles hurdles many people face daily. All the stories undeniably classify as horror; however, some weaker narratives in the collection fail to produce that shuddering creep factor or stop short of the base prompt on page. A few standout tales include H.E. Edgmon’s “Best Served Cold,” Chloe Gong’s “Docile Girls,” Tiffany D. Jackson’s “Everything’s Coming Up Roses,” and Benton-Walker’s “The Road to Hell.” These stories excel at playing with perspective, familiar tropes, and twists on murderous intent creating unique moments that reveal a bigger picture. Characters in the collection are diverse.
VERDICT Each reader will have a favorite tale in this solid horror short story collection that complements novels like Trang Thanh Tran’s She Is a Haunting, Vincent Tirado’s Burn Down, Rise Up, and Liselle Sambury’s Delicious Monsters.

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