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Saturday, January 28, 2023 | Books, Interviews


After the record-breaking Kickstarter success of Classic Monsters Unleashed (published in print by Black Spot Books, as an ebook by Crystal Lake Publishing and on audio by Blackstone Audio), editor James Aquilone is back with a new anthology that puts a horror twist on one of history’s greatest playwrights. The next in his Unleashed anthology series, SHAKESPEARE UNLEASHED, features a lineup of incredible new reimaginings of classic Shakespeare plays and poems – with a few surprises as well. 

RUE MORGUE had the opportunity to sit down with editor James Aquilone to chat about SHAKESPEARE UNLEASHED and share an exclusive look at the table of contents.  

SHAKESPEARE UNLEASHED follows Classic Monsters Unleashed. Can you tell us more about why you chose to theme this second Unleashed anthology on Shakespeare?

Editor and author James Aquilone.

I wanted a theme people weren’t expecting, and I’m a big fan of the movie and play Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead. When I saw the film, starring Tim Roth and Gary Oldman, in the early ’90s, I was fascinated. I didn’t know you could do something like that – take the characters from Hamlet and create your own story. I thought that was incredibly cool, so it was always at the back of my mind.

As the editor of this series, what is your goal for bringing these concepts together?

With the Unleashed series, I hope to create something unique while also being familiar, as we’re doing with SHAKESPEARE UNLEASHED. We have some very weird and different takes in this anthology. 

Classic Monsters Unleashed shattered the Kickstarter record for horror anthologies. As its successor, has SHAKESPEARE UNLEASHED experienced the same momentum?

Like its predecessor, SHAKESPEARE UNLEASHED finished its campaign among the highest-funded anthologies of all time. It was the 20th highest-funded prose anthology in Kickstarter history when its campaign ended last summer. Shakespeare Unleashed was also the fourth highest-funded horror anthology on the platform, while Classic Monsters Unleashed is still number one.

What can readers expect from SHAKESPEARE UNLEASHED? I know you’ve got a ton of surprises planned!

Classic Monsters Unleashed is a pretty eclectic collection, but I think SHAKESPEARE UNLEASHED is even more eclectic. We have prequels to Shakespeare’s plays, sequels, reimaginations (sic). We have a one-act play written in iambic pentameter by Ian Doescher, a horror sequel to Twelfth Night, more than a dozen horror sonnets, interior illustrations by J.K. Woodward, a blackout poem and a separate SHAKESPEARE UNLEASHED comic book with stories by David Avallone, Jeff Strand, and yours truly. Artists include Helena Masellis, J.K. Woodward, Zac Atkinson and Marco Finnegan. I think we have our bases covered!

What’s next in the Unleashed universe?

We have a very cool theme for the third book, which I can’t divulge yet, but it’s another theme you wouldn’t guess. We’ll probably skip a Kickstarter in 2023 since I have a bunch of campaigns for other projects lined up this year.

Without further ado, here’s the full table of contents for SHAKESPEARE UNLEASHED, coming July 2023: 

Introduction by Weston Ochse


John Palisano “A Pound of Flesh” (The Merchant of Venice)

Hailey Piper “A Soliloquy of Tongues” (Hamlet)

Tim Waggoner “The Beggars’ Shadows” (featuring Hamlet‘s Rosencrantz and Guildenstern)

Philipp Fracassi “Fortune” (King Lear)

Geneve Flynn “Keep a Corner in the Thing I Love” (Othello)

Gwendolyn Kiste “Ides” (Julius Caesar)

Simon Bestwick “Kingbreaker” (Henry VI)

Lee Murray “Showtime” (The Winter’s Tale)

Joe R. Lansdale and Kasey Lansdale “The Case of the Bitter Witch” (Macbeth)

Lisa Morton “The Body, The Blood, The Woods, The Stage” (Titus Andronicus)

Ian Doescher “Thirteenth Night, or What You Kill” (Twelfth Night)

Seanan McGuire “The Votress’s Daughter” (A Midsummer Night’s Dream)

Gemma Files “The Hollow Crown” 4,100 (Henry IV Pts. 1 and 2)

Jonathan Maberry “When I Waked I Cried to Dream Again” (The Tempest)

Steve Rasnic Tem “X” (The Tempest)

James Chambers “A World of Kisses for His Pain” (Othello)

JG Faherty “A Timeless Tragedy” (Romeo and Juliet)

Dan Coxon “Vile Jelly” (King Lear)

Epiphany Ferrell “The Montague Look” (Romeo and Juliet)

Donna J. W. Munro “Nothing Like the Sun: Rosaline’s Satisfaction” (Romeo and Juliet)

Marisca Pichette “All Hallowed Tides Break Upon These Shores” (The Tempest)

Amanda Dier “Scourge of Rome” (Titus Andronicus)

Zachary Rosenberg “The Hungry Wives of Windsor” (The Merry Wives of Windsor)

Jo Kaplan “Something Is Rotten” (Hamlet)

Kenneth W. Cain “Brothers in Arms” (Romeo and Juliet)


Jessica McHugh “The Third Murderer”

Alessandro Manzetti “Juliet”

Linda D. Addison “Not From My Heart Do I Your Judgement Pluck”

Lucy A. Snyder “A Note From Your Secret Admirer”

Stephanie M. Wytovich “The Witch Stained Red”

Sara Tantlinger “The Final Silence”

Vince A. Liaguno “The Woods Are Dark”

Maxwell I. Gold “I Demand the City of Flesh”

Michael Nethercott “Casca’s Lament”

Ahlissa Eichhorn “A Lover’s Pinch”

Megan Kiekel Anderson “Lavinia’s Revenge”

Mary Berman “Ophelia After Her Distress”

Lindy Ryan “Sonnet Fifty-Fleur”

Rebecca Cuthbert “No Rest Nor Relief For You With Me Dead”

L. Marie Wood “Watch”

Stephanie Ellis “Usurping Monster”

Cindy O’Quinn “Unrepentant”

Cover and interior illustrations by J.K. Woodward

Lindy Ryan
An award-winning author, editor, professor, and short-film director, Lindy Ryan was recently named one of horror’s six most masterful anthology curators, alongside Ellen Datlow and Christopher Golden, for her work in UNDER HER SKIN, a women-in-horror poetry showcase, and INTO THE FOREST: TALES OF THE BABA YAGA, a forthcoming women-in-horror anthology from Black Spot Books and Blackstone Audio. A 2020 Publishers Weekly Star Watch Honoree and previous board member for the Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA), Lindy is a long-time advocate for women-in-horror and an active member of the HWA and ITW. She is the current chair of the Horror Writers Association’s Women in Horror Month. The author of numerous works of fiction and nonfiction, Lindy’s work has been adapted for film. Her debut horror-thriller novel, BLESS YOUR HEART, is forthcoming from St. Martin’s Press/Minotaur Books.