Friday, 8 April 2016

Review: Death By Chocolate selected by Matthew Cash

Genre: Horror Anthology
Publisher: KnightWatch Press
Publication Date: 7th March 2016
Pages: 189


A copy of Death By Chocolate was sent to Confessions of a Reviewer by the editor, Matthew Cash, in exchange for an honest review. This is said review. This book is published by KnightWatch Press.

So, the second thing by Matthew Cash in a few days. The first was his story, Ankle Biters. You can read my review of that, here.

This time it’s sampling what he can do as an editor. He has brought together the many stories in Death By Chocolate and I have to say, as well as a lot of new names to me, there are a few crackin writers that I have already read in here.

Anthologies and collections seem to be flying at me from everywhere these days. Can this one be unique and entertaining enough to stand out a bit from the rest?

Let’s find out!


All Ray has ever wanted is some nice teeth. Oh and some chocolate. He doesn't have a lot of money. He is saving for his wedding. His friend Santiago knows where he can get some new teeth cheap.

The only question is; whose teeth is he going to get.

The one thing you need to open an anthology is a strong story. Mr Cash grabbed this little tale by Duncan Ralston and slotted it in the perfect place.

This is brilliant. You know the way some horror gives you that horrible feeling in your teeth when something nasty happens? This one takes that to another level.

Superbly creepy but funny at times as well, this story shows just how good a writer Mr Ralston is at short stories. Loved this.

Perfect opener.

★★★★★ for general.

★★★★★ for horror.


Tony is the Prime Ministers number two. He has always been pushing aid for third world countries to try and solve the world's problems. Looks like the PM finally agrees with him.

The only problem is what's going to be in the aid sent to billions. The plan has already started. Time for cereal?

Another crackin story. This one is scary in a way that not many people may think about when they are eating their cereal today.

A sort of megalomaniac James Bond villain type scenario showing that when you sit back and think about it, even breakfast can be scary.

Love this writing. Almost makes you think anything is possible and we wouldn’t even know it was happening.

★★★★★ for general.

★★★★★ for horror.


Ixcacao is the daughter of the King in the ancient town of Chichen-Itza. Their whole life and belief system is governed by the one thing they can produce in abundance. Chocolate.

When the Aztec’s come to raid their town and demand the secret of the chocolate, Ixcacao must make a choice whether to hand over the secrets or die by chocolate.

Hmmm bit of a strange one this. Not too sure what the story was supposed to represent or mean. A bit surreal and almost a bit tongue in cheek but didn’t do much for me either way.

★★.5 for general.

★★ for horror.


John’s mum loves her chocolate. When a meteor strikes in the heart of the cocoa bean production area, all hope seems to be lost for chocolate lovers everywhere. Until the plants start to grow back exceptionally fast.

After John and his mum go for a tour of the meteor site, all things start to go wrong. Looks like it is all over the world.

This was a cool one. Another one with a feel of the Twilight Zone to it after something crashes to earth and seems to be changing mankind with its effects.

Some really good horror and gore in this one. Nearly putting me off chocolate.


★★★★ for general.

★★★★ for horror.


Mariam is a young girl who has been taken off the streets but into a life of slavery in the cacao fields. She is destined to spend her days cutting down pods and opening then to get the beans out. Boring, and hard work but at least she gets fed at the end of the day.

She is being followed by a ghostly shadow though and has no idea why.

This is a nice slower paced story. Very haunting though and very creepy. It shows the desperate lives some kids must have in third world countries. Work or starve. Work or die.

This one has a lovely haunting twist though that sees Mariam followed around by a ghost. But who’s ghost is it.

This will give you goose bumps.

★★★★ for general.

★★★★★ for horror.


Wonky Willy Walters is a loner. It’s no surprise given what people think of him. Every year though he puts on a show of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory in the rundown Broadview Theatre.

The night before the show every year is a special night. Only Willy and his Charlie rehearse that night. It’s not a normal rehearsal, but then Willy is a bit Wonky.

You will think you know where this story is going. You will think it predictable. You will be shocked and annoyed when you find out it isn’t.

This is a writing style I could read a lot lot more of and I will endeavour to seek out more of Mr Moore’s work.

Tense and creepy. This is what a horror short story is about. Short and to the point, but make your readers imagination run wild.

★★★★★ for general.

★★★★★ for horror.


Bethany’s dad is trying to win the Dad of the year competition with this year’s Easter Egg Hunt. He has organised the party of all parties!

She finds most of the eggs, and the biggest one of all. Only problem is, she got this one from a man who told her she could have it in exchange for her soul.

Another good one but I have a complaint. I know it’s an anthology but this one is way too short. It finishes too abruptly for me. Yes, it leaves you dangling as a short should but needed more at the end.

Still a good story though with the right amount of build-up and tension making it very creepy indeed.

★★★★ for general.

★★★★ for horror.


Felicity is staying at her Grandmothers. Her Grandmother has a special box of chocolates that get shared around the family, but only if you have been good. Felicity missed out on one tonight so she has sneaked down to get one in the middle of the night.

She must try and make sure she is not caught or she will be punished. She must also remember to leave at least five to keep the little people happy.

Superb. Mysterious and creepy and full of moments of me shouting at my Kindle “Don’t do it”. Kids just don’t heed the warnings about little people and other worldly things.

Perfectly paced writing with the perfect amount of emotion and childlike thinking leading to perfect tension and horror of the unseen.

★★★★★ for general.

★★★★★ for horror.


Barry is retiring. He has been a builder for forty years but a new foreman, half his age is more or less forcing him out. He doesn’t look forward to a world of a nagging wife and a druggie son.

Maybe those drugs could be useful in some other way.

Loved this. This is both a bit comical but very scary at the same time. An examination of how opposite generations attitudes to drugs and how they handle them can be both a bit funny, but very scary at the same time.

Great writing in this one. To the point and basic, but perfect for the story. No grand elaborations needed for it to be hugely effective and to leave you with your jaw trailing the ground at the end.

★★★★★ for general.

★★★★ for horror.


Emma has just been made redundant. Her husband Mark has given her a bit of slack with her comfort eating of chocolate, but things are starting to get a bit out of hand. And bloody.

I love Justin Parks writing. This was no exception. Starts off as what seems like a scene of suburban bliss which quickly turns to suburban mayhem, horror and bloody tragedy. He writes this stuff so very well.

It has horror, blood and chocolate. Just what the anthology asked for.

Bravo again sir.

★★★★★ for general.

★★★★★ for horror.


Elizabeth and Sarah are doing what they normally do. Sitting sipping wine after shopping on Kensington High Street. Elizabeth has a thing for Monsieur Mathis, the local chocolatier. She insists she will have him, no matter the cost.

Monsieur Mathis has no interest. Well, up to a point.

This is just bonkers. Scary for many different reasons but so bonkers it’s brilliant. This is what chocolate is all about. Lust. Insatiable desires that must be met no matter the cost. And a chocolatier excited by nothing other than chocolate.

You sort of know where this tale is ultimately going to end up but it doesn’t matter. It’s still great fun getting there.

★★★★★ for general.

★★★★ for horror.


Carl gets an alarming call at two in the morning from Jules. He swore he wouldn’t run for her again but he can’t resist. She sounds in trouble.

She has just returned from one of her cacao plantations in Southern America and believes she has been cursed. Carl sees this as his opportunity to finally get what he wants from the Chocolate Girl.

Bit of a weird one this but I really liked it. Again a sort of Twilight Zone feel to it or Tales of the Unexpected.

A good twist at the end makes you become part of the story.

★★★★ for general.

★★★ for horror.


Whilst on his way to a meeting, a man runs into Kreb, The Chocolate Man.
Count one, two, three, take a dump and he’ll be there.

No idea what I just read in this one, cannot say anything else for fear of spoiling it for you but this one was not my cup of tea. At all.

★★.2 for general.

★★ for horror.


Laura decides to join Nu-You to get rid of the last remaining nine pounds she needs to shed. The rest of the ladies at the club take an instant dislike to her because she is already so skinny, compared to them.

They decide to teach her lesson involving chocolate. A lot of chocolate.

This story read like one of my nightmares. For that reason, it wins the horrific award. This one is quite brutal. It is like a few things I have seen on television over the years about how horrible people can be, to other people.

When you sit back a bit and examine what happens in the story, you could see this happening anywhere. Brutal and to the point writing make this a very effective story in getting its point across.

★★★★ for general.

★★★★ for horror.

So, Death By Chocolate. An interesting anthology full of tales involving chocolate. I have to be honest and admit I didn’t know how this was going to be pulled off. Some of the stories were loosely tied in with the theme but I have to let them get away with it because they were so good.

In terms of the job Mr Cash did? Well I have to congratulate him on a job well done. The stories he has selected for this one all did their job. For the most part they were scary and entertaining. Some more so than others, but that is par for the course with an anthology. I would have one or two little gripes about the editing in places. A couple of little mistakes here and there but to be honest, I have seen more mistakes in a book edited by a professional who has been at it for years. I am being ultra-picky now and probably shouldn’t be.

Surprised but delighted for Mr Cash that he pulled it off. Delighted for the rest of the authors involved in this one. Some brilliant stories and some fresh meat for me to follow and pick some more new author stuff up.

If you want a collection of stories that bring together an easy read, from some new names to you, then this just might be the one for you.

In the future I would certainly look out again for anthologies with stories selected by Matthew Cash. He seems to have an eye for good ones.

Again my score for an anthology uses the old scientific method of adding all the scores together and dividing by the number of stories to get an average. Death By Chocolate comes out as:

General rating:

★★★★.3 nearly perfect

Horror rating:

★★★★ and again.

If you would like to help support Confessions of a Reviewer, then please consider using the links below to buy Death by Chocolate or any other books from any of the contributors. This not only supports me but also lets me know how many people actually like to buy books after reading my reviews.


Book Synopsis:

Chocolate. Some people crave it, some people hate it. It is given on many occasions, and used for many reasons. For celebration and for comfort, in good times and bad. This selection box brings you 14 treats from Edward Breen, Jonathan Paul Butcher, Calum Chalmers, Daniel Marc Chant, S.L. Dixon, Kayleigh Marie Edwards, Justine Johnston Hemmestad, Holly Ice, Christopher Law, Chris Moore, J.R. Park, Duncan Ralston, Mark Woods and the editor, with original illustrations by Holly Marie Smith, all enveloped in the deepest, darkest chocolate.


Duncan Ralston

Duncan Ralston was born in Toronto, and spent his teens in a small town. As a "grown-up," Duncan lives with his girlfriend and their dog in Toronto, where he writes about the things that frighten and disturb him. In addition to his twisted short stories found in Gristle & Bone, The Animal, and the charity anthology The Black Room Manuscripts, his debut novel Salvage is available now from Forsaken.

For more, visit his website,, follow him on Facebook at, and Amazon at

S.L. Dixon

Former homeless hitchhiker and high school dropout, S.L. Dixon grew up in Ontario, Canada and his short stories have appeared in magazines, digests, literary journals and anthologies from around the world. He is married, has a cat and currently resides in a small coastal community in British Columbia, Canada.

Justine Johnston Hemmestad

Justine Johnston Hemmestad is a wife and mother of 7 children. She’s just earned her BLS degree from The University of Iowa, and is pursuing a graduate degree in literature through Northern Arizona University. She hopes to one day publish her novels and teach creative writing. Her website is

Edward Breen

Kent based writer originally from Ireland, Edward Breen has been writing for the past three years. As of now this is his first published story. He writes fantasy mainly, but dabbles in horror and sci-fi from time to time.

A novel is on the way but for now you can read his stories at and you can follow him on Facebook at

Holly Ice

Holly Ice loves the unusual and subjects which bring a numinous longing for more than reality provides. She would love it if she woke to all the monsters being real… as long as they were not out to kill her in particular. Her horror novella The Russian Sleep Experiment was published by Almond Press in 2015, and she has a number of published short stories: ‘Trysting Antlers’ (La Femme, NewCon Press, 2014), ‘My Oasis Tower’ (Looking Landwards, NewCon Press, 2013), ‘La Morte de La Résistance’ (Fall, Almond Press, 2013) and ‘A Bit of Contrast’ (Born of the Island and Other Sea Stories, H G Wells Festival, 2012). Holly hopes her stories bring enjoyment to those that read them. Her author website is:

Chris Moore

Chris Moore is one of the England’s most unknown and insignificant writers.
Born in the dark, dismal town known as Ipswich he fought his way up the Suffolk underground writing circuit, severing the hands of multiple up and coming writers proving his pen was indeed a force to be reckoned with in writing local music reviews published online. After a mere thirty-six years on the planet has at last had his first original story ‘Wonky Willy’ published here in this anthology.

Chris also writes music under the name ‘Must Kill Chris’ and has albums available for FREE download on bandcamp and a Facebook page to check out for news / information. His latest album ‘The Bearded Man’ was released in 2015 and received several 10/10 reviews on local music sites that described his sound as “brilliantly demented”.

He’s also a talented and handsome graphic designer and over his career so far he’s designed for many fucking boring retail companies but much prefers the cool stuff he does on the side for the likes of Love Zombies, The Reconnection Movement, Matthew Cash and Unsigned Melodies.

Calum Chalmers

Calum Chalmers is a fan of chocolate, horror and stealing children's souls, so this story worked out quite well.

Coming in 2016 Calum's work will also be featured in 'Unicornado', 'Weird Ales - Last Orders' and the hotly anticipated 'Welcome to a Town Called Hell'. Hopefully this isn't the end of his list.

Christopher Law

Christopher Law lives in the South East of England with an aging cat and a compromised view of a castle. He is the author of Chaos Tales and Chaos Tales II: Hell TV, both available in paperback and Kindle formats via Amazon. At the moment he is putting the final touches to The Entrance Saga, a horror epic in three parts, and trying to find a home for it.

You can follow him at and also, where you can find free stories and other assorted musings.

Kayleigh Marie Edwards

Kayleigh Marie Edwards is a freelance writer based in South Wales. She enjoys anything related to Stephen King, zombies, and a wide variety of cheeses. When she's not writing, she spends her time pondering things like what a sunny day looks like (she's British - she's barely seen that glorious orb in the sky). You can find her blogging away at

J.R. Park

J.R. Park is an author of horror fiction and co-founder of the publishing imprint the Sinister Horror Company.  His novels Terror Byte, Punch and Upon Waking have all been well received by readers and reviewers, even if the sick bucket hasn’t been too far away from their bedsides.

Art house, pulp and exploitation alike inform his inspirations, as well as misheard conversations, partially remembered childhood terrors and cheese before sleep.

He currently resides in Bristol, UK.

Find out more at and

Daniel Marc Chant

Daniel Marc Chant is an author of strange fiction. His passion for H. P. Lovecraft & the films of John Carpenter inspired him to produce intense, cinematic stories with a sinister edge.

Daniel launched his début, "Burning House," swiftly following with the Lovecraft-inspired "Maldición." His most recent book “Mr. Robespierre” has garnered universal praise.

Daniel also created "The Black Room Manuscripts" a charity horror anthology & is a founder of UK independent genre publisher The Sinister Horror Company.

You can find him amongst the nameless ones on twitter @danielmarcchant , at facebook/danielmarcchant or his official website

Mark Woods.

Mark Woods is one of the U.K's hottest up and coming authors whose short fiction has been published in several high profile anthologies over the last couple of years. Described as having ‘a unique British voice’, he is the author of the highly popular novella, Time of Tides, and one of six writers responsible for the Vampire novel, Feral Hearts. His first short story collection, Fear of the Dark, is due to be released by J. Ellington Ashton Press very shortly and features several new short stories exclusive to that collection.

He can be found on his official Facebook page here:

Or on his Blog, Miss Muppet ate my hamster, here:

Or on Twitter @sparkymarky1973

Jonathan Paul Butcher

Jonathan Paul Butcher is an author fascinated by life's peculiar avenues.  While not all of his stories are horror or supernatural they are quite often horrifying and always unusual, and he has been writing fiction since childhood and writing professionally since 2008.  His career highlights include a feature about a Satanic filmmaking vomit fetishist, an interview with people who believe they have sex with ghosts, and a hands-on investigation into legal highs that resulted in an acquaintance being briefly institutionalised.  Jonathan dwells in picturesque Birmingham, where he writes, shrieks, roars, drinks, dances and plots gruesome revenge upon the scumbags who recently burgled his flat.

Matthew Cash, or Matty-Bob Cash as he is known to most, was born and raised in in Suffolk; which is the setting for his forthcoming full length novel Pinprick which is due for publication with Knightswatch Press in 2016.

He has always written stories since he first learnt to write and most, although not all, tend to slip into the many layered murky depths of the Horror genre.

His influences, from his early reading, to present day are, to name but a select few; Roald Dahl, James Herbert, Clive Barker, Stephen King, Stephen Laws, and more recently he enjoys Adam Nevill, F.R Tallis, Michael Bray, William Meikle and Iain Rob Wright (who featured Matty-Bob in his famous A-Z of Horror title M is For Matty-Bob, plus Matthew wrote his own version of events which was included as a bonus).

He is a father of two and a husband of one.

And for more about Matthew, you can find him on social media:

Facebook - Twitter - Goodreads - Amazon Page

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