The Eighth Black Book of Horror — book review

THE EIGHTH BLACK BOOK OF HORROR edited by Charles Black, Mortbury Press £5.50

Reviewed by Ian Hunter

Okay, I’m slow, but I got it finally, when I was looking at all those heads pressed together on the cover of TEBBOH and thought ‘That looks a bit like Paul Finch,’ and ‘Wait a minute, that looks like His Lordship, John Llewellyn Probert,’ and ‘Isn’t that Reggie Oliver?’ Ah, now I get it. Artist Paul Mudie has jammed together the heads of the contributors on the cover. Very neat, and very disturbing. But, horrific heads are all very well, but what about the contents?

Well,  we start off with a Reggie Oliver tale called ‘Quieta Non Movere’, which I would call standard Oliver fare, very well written and reminiscent of MR James and Ramsey Campbell. What follows that opening story is various degrees of horror – hey, the book delivers what it says on the tin, or the cover, ranging from the shocking to the disturbing to the just plain nasty.

While there are good solid stories by the likes of David A Riley, David Williamson, Gary Fry, Mark Samuels and Paul Finch, and a deliciously darkly humourous piece by John Llewellyn Probert, I’d have to give the writing honours to the ladies, although I shouldn’t forget a highly original story from Tina and Tony Rath, and the always reliable Anna Taborska delivers despite a slightly distracting framing device. Marion Pitman’s ‘Music in the Bone’ is also very original and very, very readable, the equivalent of drinking pear cider. Very nice and addictive, until you fall over, or race to the end of the story in this case. Thana Niveau’s creepy and atmospheric ‘The Coal-Man’ is probably the highlight of the collection, which is rounded off nicely by Kate Farrell’s sting in the tail tale ‘Mea Culpa’. At £5.50 this is a steal. Roll on book number nine.