Original Tales of Terror and the Macabre by the World's Greatest Horror Writers
Having reviewed two previous anthologies edited by Jeff Gelb - Seeds of Fear and Hot Blood - I wanted to see what his other anthologies were like, other than the Hot Blood series.
My local library system was able to track down this volume, which is something unique - a horror anthology in honor of a horror bookstore in Burbank, California. In fact, it is said to be the only all-horror bookstore in the world.
The store has a close relationship to many authors, as they do signings and promotional events at the store, and so many of those authors were willing to contribute stories to this anthology. The volume has no theme, other than being horror stories.
There is an introduction by legendary author Richard Matheson (now deceased), another by editor Jeff Gelb, and endnotes by the bookstore's founder. Capsule biographies are provided for all contributors at the end of the book.
The 19 stories are:
- The Reincarnate
- What if Ray Bradbury wrote a zombie tale in his unique style, set in a small U.S. town? Well, he did...
- Black Mill Cove
- Despite the shark warnings, a dedicated hunter seeks abalone along the seashore.
- After nuclear Armageddon, Christian fanatics seize control of the U.S. government and take out their revenge.
- The Seer
- A watch repairman sees visions in mirrors.
- The Fall
- A boy finds a way to cope with the grief when a savage, vampire-like creature destroys his family.
- Part of the Game
- A corrupt police detective desires one thing from the Mandarin who secretly runs Chinatown.
- The Bandit of Sanity
- An analyst keeps a file when he notices he is losing segments of his life.
- My Thing Friday
- A stranded spacemen finds the local lifeforms to be interesting, and sometimes helpful.
- Out Twelve-Steppin', Summer of AA
- Two glam rockers seek help from their mutual addiction to cannibalism.
- Bloody Mary Morning
- A prominent businessman has a plan when his marriage is on the rocks, and the feds are about to indict him.
- A Gentleman of the Old School
- Count Saint-Germain, a vampire living peacefully in Vancouver, must deter a female reporter who falsely suspects him of involvement in a string of murders.
- The Announcement
- An author whose work satirizes other authors, suspects a prominent author is ridiculing him.
- The Outermost Borough
- Can an artist find inspiration from new surroundings?
- Dark Delicacies of the Dead
- The zombie Apocalypse begins during a promotional event at a horror-themed bookstore.
- A young man tries to cope when his celebrity role model drives off a cliff.
- The Pyre and Others
- A rare book is rumored to have powers over your dreams if you sleep with it under your pillow.
- All My Bloody Things
- Cal McDonald, investigator of the supernatural, becomes a victim of a cannibal while tracing a lost family.
- The Diving Girl
- After adding a second story office to his garage, an author suddenly notices the beautiful girl who dives at night into a neighbor's swimming pool.
- Haeckel's Tale
- In 19th Century Germany, a scholar shares a true tale with his fellows one night - a tale of a necromancer, a graveyard, and necrophilia.
On the whole, this is a masterful collection of excellently written stories, full of atmosphere and surprises - and this is true of the lesser known as well as the more famous authors.
Not to say there aren't some clunkers - Whitley Strieber's Kaddish pushes its satire of Christians beyond absurdity, while Rick Pickman's Dark Delicacies of the Dead is a comedic look at horror authors that lacks laughs and reads like fan fiction. The collection is also wildly uneven in terms of style and taste - some stories are filled with foul language, graphic violence, and/or detailed sex scenes, while others would be suitable for all ages.
Because of the mixed content, I can only recommend the anthology to those with a tolerance for "adult" horror.
For wargamers: None of these stories are directly translatable to gaming scenarios, though some of the ideas might inspire further design work.
Reviewed by Editor in Chief Bill .