Kelli Owen – Black Bubbles Review

Genre: Horror
Length: 210 Pages
Publisher: Poltergeist Press
Release date: April 10, 2020
Synopsis: Horror is pessimism at its bleakest. Worst-case scenario. The darker side of reality. The glass half-empty. The situation unfathomable. In Black Bubbles, Kelli Owen presents classic genre tropes—ghosts, murderers, zombies, what you’d expect (sans sharks)—but it’s the characters, rather than the tropes, that experience the story, speak of the horrors, and sometimes survive the inevitable. Sometimes.

A decades-old crime shocks a family as evidence points to one of their own…An ancient evil hitchhikes its way to freedom…A child has an unusual fascination with decay…A woman excuses premeditation…Death takes a holiday…Science and good intentions make horrific bedfellows…A man hides from nightmares that invade his waking world…

Kelli Owen’s first collection gathers over 60,000 words, including a handful of out-of-print, difficult-to-find previously published work, a plethora of new pieces, story notes, drawings inspired by the title story, and an introduction by the legendary Thomas Monteleone.

Review copy provided in exchange for an honest review

I love short story collections, experiencing what’s been written over time. Seeing what’s hiding in the shadows of the writers mind. When I started Black Bubbles by Kelli Owen I read the introduction and discovered this was a set of her earlier work. For me, it was like finding hidden treasure. Black Bubbles has more stories than I can cove. So, I’m hitting on the ones that stuck out, hit a nerve, or just made me say wow.

The first story that caught my eye was, The Worst Intentions. It was so damn good, brutal and horrifying. It makes you wonder what a person will do when they feel they’ve run out of options. Also, be careful what you wish for, karma can be a bitch and you’ll likely not see her coming. Potential was another favorite. I loved the word economy and sentence structure. The story had a great flow, and was effortless to read. In most short story collections I read, I find a piece or two I can imagine being a longer work, maybe a novella. The Rabbit was one of those stories. A young kid who is fascinated with the various stages of dead animals. What a perfect beginning to something awful.

In Grim Circumstances we’re given a very well written story, with the truth behind the mystery hidden in plain sight. Creative, crafty and original is the best way to summarize this story. Tensions run rampant in the stories How’s That Make You Feel? and Spring Thaw. The former about a group therapy session consisting of serial killers, the later about a man stuck on an ice covered lake. Both benefit from the unknown direction the stories take.

Good Enough, a love story at its core, tells the tale of how far one is willing to go, and what they will do in the name of love. This was one twisted short story, and again, well done. As horrifying as The Worst Intensions was, when I read Dr. Jekyll’s Third Cousin Twice Removed it was without a doubt the most horrific stories here. The images my mind conjured won’t disappear any time soon. Thank you very much, Kelli! Spilled Milk fell into my favorite part of the horror genre, a good old apocalypse. Double hell if Black Bubbles wasn’t one of the most imaginative stories I’ve come across in some time. In this story bubbles are filled with the imaginings of our nightmares.

If you’re like me and missed this collection in its first printing, go and grab a copy of this recently released book. If you’re a fan of Kelli Owen, or a horror fan of any kind, Black Bubbles is worth a read. There is a bit of something for everyone here, and it’s good, damn good.

Link to purchase Black Bubbles

Kelli Owen, Biography-

Kelli Owen is the author of more than a dozen books–her fiction spanning from thriller and psychological horror, to an occasional bloodbath, and the even rarer happy ending. She was an editor and reviewer for over a decade, and has attended countless writing conventions, participated on dozens of panels, and spoken at the CIA Headquarters in Langley, VA regarding both her writing and the field in general. Born and raised in Wisconsin, she now lives in Destination, Pennsylvania. For more information, please visit her website at kelliowen.com.


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