Reviewed by Mario Guslandi
Jeani Rector, the editor of The Horror Zine, must be congratulated for assembling a hefty volume which represents a veritable feast for horror lovers.
The book, foreworded by Ramsey Campbell, Â includes thirty-seven horror stories both by renowned authors and by comparatively newcomers, the average quality of which is uncommonly good.Â To mentionÂ and to comment upon all of them would be impossible, thus I will take advantage ofÂ my privilege as a reviewer to focus only on what I consider Â the very best.
To me the highlightsÂ of the anthology are two.Â Â The first one is Â Joe R Lansdaleâ€™s â€œIncident On And Off A Mountain Roadâ€ (also adapted on the screen for the Masters ofÂ HorrorÂ television series) ,a superlative horror story, suspenseful and terrifying as it could be, featuring a fearless woman fighting madly to save her life. The other one isÂ â€œScream Queenâ€ by veteran, terrific storyteller Ed Gorman, a memorable tale where some videogeeks meet their utterly changed idol, a B-movie sexy actress.
Other outstanding pieces are â€œThe Soldierâ€ by Shaun Meeks , a strong example of graphic horror where a amortally wounded German soldier has to face terrors more appalling than war, and Graham Mastertonâ€™s â€œWhat The Dark Doesâ€ a superb, scary tale revealing the truth about the dangerous, murderous creaturesÂ getting alive in the dark.
Phillip Roberts contributesÂ the excellent â€œProper Paymentsâ€ a well crafted story where alien horrors and standard human crime merge perfectly, whileÂ Cheryl Kaye Tardif provides â€œSkeletons in the Closetâ€, an accomplished mystery with a horrific taste and various twists in the tail.
Scott Nicholsonâ€™s â€œHomecomingâ€ is a gentle, melancholy ghost story in which regrets and parental love sadden an old couple and Susie Moloneyâ€™s â€œThe Auditâ€ is a splendid, extremely original tale where true horror is represented by being audited by the RevenueÂ Tax Office.
Other very good stories worth mentioning are Stewart Hornâ€™s â€œFilmlandâ€, an entertaining piece of urban horror, Christopher Nadeauâ€™s â€œAlways Say Treatâ€ , a terrifying but dismal tale of Halloween terror, KA Oppermanâ€™s â€œCornâ€ an offbeat story of agricultural horror and, last but not least, â€œThe Lost Sheepâ€ by Jason Reynolds, an atmospheric yarn where a man looking for his sheep flock during a blizzard discovers Â the truth about himself.
The book also includesÂ a bunch of dark poetry (that Iâ€™m not qualified to judge),Â various interesting interviews with famous genre writers such asÂ Tim Lebbon, Graham Masterton and Joe R Lansdale( just to mention a few) and some effective and disquieting artwork.
A must for any horror fan.