TALES FROM THE LAKE, edited by Joe Mynhardt, Crystal Lake, ebook, £3.05. www.crystallakepub.com.
Reviewed by Stewart Horn
Crystal Lake publishing is relatively new on the horror scene, but has collected an impressive list of authors and contributors. This latest anthology features some well known names and a few who are new to me. The standard is consistently high with a couple of stand out stories.
Although it was unthemed, some themes recur, perhaps hinting at the editor’s preferences. Two stories feature a supernatural and definitely female creature living in a lake; several are either EC revenge stories or have a Twilight Zone style moralistic tone – bad guys getting comeuppances; some have a folk tale vibe; and he likes his gruesome grand guignol scenes.
I’ll say a few words about some of my favourites.
The book begins with Tim Waggoner’s Lover, Come Back to Me, in which a man has had a phobia of water since childhood, with good reason as it turns out. A deep dark lake is always good for representing a character’s psyche. And Waggoner handles this one nicely, balancing intense description of the character’s terror with subtle metaphor.
Don’t Look at Me, by Elizabeth Massie is a charming tale of talking dolls, child abuse and wish fulfilment.
Daniel J. Stone’s Alternative Muses is both gruesome and sensual in its depiction of strange desires.
Tim Curran’s Devil’s Night and Graham Masterton’s Witch-Compass cover similar ground in having morally compromised protagonists whose actions are more disturbing than any supernatural horror.
And it makes a nice change to see poetry in a horror anthology. Blaze McRob is featured twice. Devil Dolls takes its form directly from Poe’s The Raven and has a similar sense of inevitability; in Saint Patty’s Night at the Crown he uses a childishly simple rhyming tetrameter to tell a story of a homicidal leprechaun at an orgy.
I don’t think Tales from the Lake is breaking any new ground, but it’s a solid collection of stories from talented authors and I thoroughly enjoyed it.