Chilling Tales edited by Michael Kelly: reviewed

CHILLING TALES edited by Michael Kelly. Edge $14.95

Reviewed by Tom Crouch

One of the good things about reviewing is receiving a book from a publisher you’ve not heard of before. And Edge is new to me. This is a Canadian outfit that has selected only Canadian writers for this anthology. I suppose it makes sense, considering their neighbour to the south, which probably predominates fantasy and horror fiction by weight of numbers. But I can’t help thinking it’s a bit too parochial, choosing local writers only.

The antho starts off with a stunner, “Tom Chesnutt’s Midnight Blues” by Robert J Wiersema. Reading it I started thinking of that Blues legend Robert Johnson, meeting the Devil at a crossroads. I was also reminded of the Jeff Bridges’ movie Crazy Heart — although it’s drugs and booze that tempts the singer in the film. In Leah Bobet’s “Stay” a truck goes off the road in the ice in the deepest of winters and the driver is forced to stay in the small, cut-off community. Is he more than just a trucker? This is an effective chilling story, for sure. And Nancy Kilpatrick’s “Sympathy for the Devil” certainly created a disturbing resonance. It tells the story of Mr Hammersmith who’s heavily bandaged in a hospital bed following an accident — and is deemed a monster.

Other contributors include Simon Strantzas, Tia Travis, Barbara Roden and others — eighteen tales in all. Overall, this is an enjoyable collection, full of well written stories, but only a small handful quickened my pulse. Nevertheless, if you like your  horror quiet — and Canadian — you could do worse than getting hold of this book.