Thursday, July 11, 2024

Review: The White Guy Dies First: 13 Scary Stories of Fear and Power edited by Terry J. Benton-Walker


The White Guy Dies First edited by Terry J. Benton-Walker
Tor Teen
Publication Date: July 16th, 2024
Hardcover. 320 pages.

About The White Guy Dies First:

"The White Guy Dies First includes thirteen scary stories by all-star contributors and this time, the white guy dies first.

Killer clowns, a hungry hedge maze, and rich kids who got bored. Friendly cannibals, impossible slashers, and the dead who don’t stay dead....

A museum curator who despises “diasporic inaccuracies.” A sweet girl and her diary of happy thoughts. An old house that just wants friends forever....

These stories are filled with ancient terrors and modern villains, but go ahead, go into the basement, step onto the old plantation, and open the magician’s mystery box because this time, the white guy dies first.

Edited by Terry J. Benton-Walker, including stories from bestselling, award-winning, and up-and-coming Adiba Jaigirdar, Alexis Henderson, Chloe Gong, Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé, H. E. Edgmon, Kalynn Bayron, Karen Strong, Kendare Blake, Lamar Giles, Mark Oshiro, Naseem Jamnia, Tiffany D. Jackson, and Terry J. Benton-Walker.

A collection you’ll be dying to talk about… if you survive it."

The White Guy Dies First by Terry J. Benton-Walker is a collection of short horror stories that sets out to focus on diversity in horror and subvert typical horror tropes where minority characters are often treated casually and sent to the chopping block first. All of these stories excelled at doing just that, and I particularly appreciated how each story explored different themes and social issues, which allow for some fresh perspectives on horror as well as general contemporary issues we see everyday.

The stories themselves were a bit of a mixed bag for me, with some being excellent tales of terror and others not quite hitting the mark. The anthology opens with a brief story called "Ghoulfriends Online Blog," which acts as an introduction that brings all of the stories together and sets the stage for following horror narratives. As I often like to do with short story collections, I'll select some stories from the collection to share my thoughts on to give you an idea of where my thoughts lay with this book. 

"All Eyes on Me" by Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé: This is the opening story, and it certainly started off with a bang. I loved the beginning half of this story, but the ending was a huge letdown for me. The buildup was very promising, but the conclusion felt unsatisfying and left me actually a bit annoyed with the main character.

"Hedge" by Kalynn Bayron: This one was fun in nature and I enjoyed the premise, but unfotunate it didn't stand out as much as I hoped. It was missing something for me to make it feel like more than it was, and I also feel like the author kept treating the younger brother as if he were ten instead of old enough to not actually need a babysitter and I"m not sure why. 

"The Golden Dragon" by Kendare Blake: This was a solid story–not something that I'd go out of my way to read or recommend, but certainly hits the right paranormal note. It wasn't a favorite, but I still found it really well-written and engaging, and I was glad to read something from Kendare Blake.

"Everything's Coming Up Roses" by Tiffany D. Jackson: Probably my favorite of the bunch! I really loved the epistolary format and how it effortlessly leads readers down a dark path to understanding exactly what is going on. Absolutely creepy and delightful.

"Heaven" by Adiba Jaigirdar: This one was really imaginative and had some really great (though not entirely unpredictable) twists that made it an intriguing read. The concepts explored were intriguing, and I appreciated the creativity and depth of the premise and brief world-building.

While this may not be the strongest collection of horror stories I've ever read, it is a solid anthology with some real gems. The focus on diversity and subverting typical horror tropes was apparent but not overt, which made for a refreshing and thought-provoking read. Overall, I've given this collection three stars!

*I received a copy of The White Guy Dies First in exchange for an honest review. This has no effect on my rating.*

Buy the book: Amazon |


  1. I'm usually leery of anthologies, although I love the theme of this one! I'm glad there were at least a couple of winners😁

  2. I really like the premise of this one. It sounds like it had a lot going for it, even though you didn't end up loving this collection. I may have to give it a try. Thank you for sharing!