Book Review: Effects Vary by Michael Harris Cohen

Official Synopsis:

Effects Vary features 22 stories of dark fiction and literary horror that explore the shadow side of love, loss, and family. From an aging TV star’s murderous plan to rekindle her glory days, to a father who returns from war forever changed, from human lab rats who die again and again, to a farmer who obeys the dreadful commands of the sky, these stories, four of them award winners, blur the thin line between reality and the darkest reaches of the imagination.

Praise for Effects Vary

“Cohen’s fictions are knife flashes, quick and deft and so sharp you don’t know you’ve been cut until the blood starts to flow. Whether he’s in the mines of South Africa, the court of Charles the IV in Spain, or in places that seem like odd doppelgängers of the ones we know, his work unsettles in the best possible ways.”

Brian Evenson, Shirley Jackson and World Fantasy Award-Winning author of Song for the Unraveling of the World

“Cohen offers up a myriad of dark worlds, both real and supernatural, each exquisitely rendered, each with its own unnerving brand of darkness. Deeply eerie and unsettling, Effects Vary is a treasure trove of dark gems, written in a strong and distinct voice.”

A.C. Wise, Nebula and Bram Stoker Award-nominated author of The Ghost Sequences

A world of nightmares and haunted spaces that might crack open at any moment. Cohen’s prose is gorgeous and full of menace. I tore through this collection of dark delights.”

Lincoln Michel, author of The Body Scout

“Provocative, heartbreaking, and compelling—Effects Vary is the must-read collection of the year.”

Samantha Kolesnik, author of True Crime

and more!(Check the official website)

The book has received favorable blurbs from Mercedes, Brian Evenson (his blurb is excerpted on the cover), Danielle Trussoni, Lincoln Michel, Hailey Piper, A.C. Wise, Samantha Kolesnik and others.

The book, Effects Vary, is 57k words (around 200 pages) and contains 22 stories, 20 of which have been previously published in places ranging from The Dark to Conjunctions to various anthologies. Four of the stories have won awards, including one for a contest judged by Mercedes Yardley.

Spoiler-Free Review:

    Horror short stories are always fun to read due to their diversity and a collection of them is like a bag full of assorted toffees. The fun is increased when you don’t see what you are going to get next. That’s exactly why without spoiling, we review the book called “Effects Vary” by Michael Harris Cohen which is a horror short story collection that is full of surprises and scary tales that send shivers down your spine.   The cover by Matthew Revert is scary and artistic enough to get your attention because that’s an image related to medicine- a thing we are most familiar with!

   The book starts with a great foreword by Mark Allan Gunnells emphasizing on the importance of short stories and the impact of “Effects May Vary” story on the creation of this book. We also get a reminder about why it’s important to read a book without knowing much about it. Thus, the importance of spoiler-free reviews.      

The stories mainly form a bond through the theme of human suffering and psychological horror. The horrible impact on the psyche of a person returned from a war, the desire of fame which makes a person do anything, a story about scary experiments, and we get to read about many humans who seem scarier than monsters due to what they do and think. Two stories are like hotel catalogues with descriptions of rooms with terrifying history and a letter from an ex-wife – both of which add a bit of humor to the book while still delivering the chills at the end.      

The language is easy to understand and follow. There are no suggestive themes. The violence or gore is passive aggressive that surprises you with subtlety and boldness. The main focus is psychological but the horror effect is high.     

Overall, this book is a scary, entertaining and insightful collection of stories that make you think, laugh, cry and all of which will stay with you long after you finish the book. 

Publishing on October 4th 2022, this is a treat that will make your Halloween sweeter and scarier. Highly recommend it!

Pre-orders are live through Amazon Kindle Page! Follow the author and publisher to get notified when it gets published 

Pre-order from the Kindle Page (Releases on October 4th, 2022)

Connect with the author:

Official website-

Twitter (@fictionknot)


Twitter of the publisher Cemetery Gates Media

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