Wednesday, July 18, 2012
#review A Book of Horrors, edited by Stephen Jones
Title: A Book of Horrors
Editor: Stephen Jones
Publisher: Jo Fletcher Books, 2011
WITH a stellar cast including the who’s who of classic horror, A Book of Horrors serves up a fantastic collection of stories from the likes of Ramsey Campbell, Peter Crowther, Dennis Etchison, Elizabeth Hand,
Brian Hodge, Caitlín R Kiernan, Stephen King, John Ajvide Lindqvist, Richard Christian Matheson, Reggie Oliver, Robert Shearman, Angela Slatter, Michael Marshall Smith and Lisa Tuttle.
Their writing is especially refreshing after the overdose of glittery vampires and torture porn so popular in media at present. If you’ve been looking for dark tales to provide a suitably gritty antidote, then A Book of Horrors is a worthy addition to your book collection.
And who better to put together this selection than the award-winning editor Stephen Jones?
Although greats such as King, Kiernan and Campbell need no introduction, a few stories leapt out at me. Slatter’s The Coffin-Maker’s Daughter flirted with the fear of unquiet dead, within the frame of the troubled relationship between a woman who is her coffin-making father’s heir.
A Child’s Problem, by Reggie Oliver, caught my attention, perhaps because of my fascination with the Victorian era’s fixation with death. That the story itself has a tale attached to it further adds to its mystique.
The protagonist’s approach to solving a tragic mystery within the grounds of a forbidding and often claustrophobic estate hit all the right buttons.
Elizabeth Hand’s Near Zennor delves into the realm of mystery and yet again there’s a story behind this tale, with the author investing a semi-autobiographical account in her writing. Then again, what’s not to love about a telling that blends present tragedy with the gradual uncovering of deeply buried secrets?
What particularly made this anthology for me was that the authors were given the opportunity to share some of the behind-the-scenes events that contributed to their creative process. Even better was the fact that I’ve now rekindled my love for existing favourites while adding a sprinkling of new names to my “to read” pile. All in all, this is a well-rounded collection offering a diverse palette, from the morbid to darkly mysterious. Definite fireside reading on a dark and stormy night.
This review first appeared in the Pretoria News on July 16, 2012.