REVIEW: All Who Wander Are Lost by Gemma Amor

Let Gemma Amor be your guide in All Who Wander Are Lost, a new anthology of destination horror stories that lead the reader across adventures on five different continents from northern Norway all the way to Antarctica.

All Who Wander Are LostAll Who Wander Are Lost kicks off with “There’s Something in First Landing State Park,” an ill-fated trip to Virginia Beach where the narrator, Melanie, spots a grotesque, slime-covered man emerging from the sand at sunrise, disappearing into the ocean as he oozes a trail of goop behind him. Amor combines science fiction and horror to astonishing effect, taking the story in bizarre directions on her way to a perfectly executed, jaw-dropping conclusion.

The next story, “The Reunion,” is narrated by Tim, a formerly poor boy who was bullied in school and is now returning to his high school reunion as the successful vice president of a pharmaceutical company accompanied by his beautiful wife. But Tim’s plans of proving his worth to his classmates are disrupted by his ex-wife, Louise, who exacts the ultimate revenge on her former husband for abandoning her and their child. Devoid of supernatural elements, “The Reunion” proves that the most horrific monster may be man himself.

Gemma Amor drops us on a giant glacier in “Fields of Ice,” the third story of All Who Wander Are Lost, which is set in either a near-future dystopian society or some alternate reality. Hayder, an explorer working for an autocratic leader known as the Minister, is sent on a special mission in pursuit of precious ore, but perhaps she is the one being pursued.

The following story, “Let Sleeping Gods Lie,” delivers an Indiana Jones-style adventure as we join an archaeological expedition in Egypt. Written in epistolary format, Gemma Amor takes us on a haunting journey through an underground labyrinth, showing that some ancient powers should be left undisturbed.

Amor channels Daphne du Maurier’s “Don’t Look Now” in her Venetian horror, “The Final Wish Foundation,” bringing several thrilling twists to this familiar backdrop to horror. Next up is “A Song for Sam,” in which two brothers travel to Norway to fulfill their late father’s wish to scatter his ashes beneath the aurora borealis, but one brother has a more sinister plan in mind.

The remaining stories in All Who Wander Are Lost include “The Ancient Ram Inn,” a classic haunted house horror turned inside out, “A Gentlewoman Abroad” about a businesswoman who despises tourists to an unhealthy degree, and “Less Exalted Tastes” about a rather sadistic form of artistry. The anthology concludes with “Christmas in Antarctica,” a decidedly chilling supernatural horror that will make you want to stay at home for the holidays.

Altogether, All Who Wander Are Lost is a masterfully conceived and executed anthology that serves as Gemma Amor’s homage to the human desire to travel and explore. I enjoyed the variety of styles that Amor brings to the concept of destination horror across this anthology.

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John Mauro

John Mauro

John Mauro lives in a world of glass amongst the hills of central Pennsylvania. When not indulging in his passion for literature or enjoying time with family, John is training the next generation of materials scientists at Penn State University, where he teaches glass science and materials kinetics. John also loves cooking international cuisine and kayaking the beautiful Finger Lakes region of upstate New York.