It's October! I'm a total horror fanatic (if you couldn't tell) and I can't wait to see what this Halloween season has in store! I'm already seeing some great trailers (though not all the movies are due out this month or even this year!) and I've got a stack of horror-ish reads to dive into! Truthfully, I've already begun.
I've said many times that I'm a big fan of short story collections and anthologies. Anthologies give you a chance to try out some new-to-you authors in an easy (and, let's face it, noncommittal) way. But that's ok! Sometimes all it takes is one or two key authors to pull me into a collection (um, Mr. King) and then I walk away with a slew of new stuff to add to my ever-growing TBR. And such was just the case with this latest from horror anthology master, Stephen Jones.
A Book of Horrors features fourteen all new short stories from the best in the horror business:
"The Little Green God of Agony" by Stephen King
"Charcloth, Firesteel and Flint" by Caitlin R. Kiernan
"Ghosts with Teeth" by Peter Crowther
"The Coffin-Maker's Daughter" by Angela Slatter
"Roots and All" by Brian Hodge
"Tell Me I'll See You Again" by Dennis Etchison
"The Music of Bengt Karlsson, Murderer" by John Ajvide Lindqvist
"Getting it Wrong" by Ramsey Campbell
"Alice Through the Plastic Sheet" by Robert Shearman
"The Man in the Ditch" by Lisa Tuttle
"A Child's Problem" by Reggie Oliver
"Sad, Dark Thing" by Michael Marshall Smith
"Near Zennor" by Elizabeth Hand
"Last Words" by Richard Christian Matheson
The stories range from classic ghosts and monsters to oddball tales of strange neighbors and stories that reach back to classic folklore.
A few of my favorites:
"Ghosts with Teeth" by Peter Crowther. It's no lie that I'm a sucker for a brilliant ghost story and Crowther's tale was that and more! This creepy story totally blew me away. Crowther is one of the authors I'd never read before so I was definitely pleased to add his Darkness Falling to my immediate must read pile.
"The Coffin-Maker's Daughter" by Angela Slatter. Um... super weird that I just happened to turn on some Florence & the Machine while reading and then found out that Flo's music inspired Slatter's story!
"Roots and All" by Brian Hodge. Hodge is a Boulderite! This one is classic folklore with a current day twist.
"The Music of Bengt Karlsson, Murderer" by John Ajvide Lindqvist. This is perhaps one of the most twisted stories in the entire collection! I find Lindqvist's work to be like a figurative train wreck -- I know something horrible is coming and I can't look away!
"Near Zennor" by Elizabeth Hand. I have to admit that I've now got two of Hand's books in my TBR. I loved this story! Loved it! This one was a bit more fantasy for me but no less fantastic.
And don't think that the rest of the stories are any less fabulous. King is one of my favorites of all time and Michael Marshall Smith is always a must read for me. I also really enjoyed Reggie Oliver's tale. This is definitely one of the best anthologies I've had the pleasure of reading in recent years. Key here, too, is the fact that each story also comes with a little behind the scenes explanation from the author. I find that my favorite anthologies include something along these lines and was over the moon to find that it was included here as well.
I hope I've raved enough over this one to convince you to run out and buy it. If you're a fan of dark fiction then you definitely should seek this one out. Maybe, like me, you'll discover some more new reads as well.