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, includes thirty-seven horror stories both by renowned authors and by comparatively newcomers, the average quality of which is uncommonly good. To mention and to comment upon all of them would be impossible, thus I will take advantage of my privilege as a reviewer to focus only on what I consider the very best.
To me the highlights of the anthology are two. The first one is Joe R Lansdale’s “Incident On And Off A Mountain Road” (also adapted on the screen for the Masters of Horror 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 is “Scream Queen” 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 “The Soldier” 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 Masterton’s “What The Dark Does” a superb, scary tale revealing the truth about the dangerous, murderous creatures getting alive in the dark.
Phillip Roberts contributes the excellent “Proper Payments” a well crafted story where alien horrors and standard human crime merge perfectly, while Cheryl Kaye Tardif provides “Skeletons in the Closet”, an accomplished mystery with a horrific taste and various twists in the tail.
Scott Nicholson’s “Homecoming” is a gentle, melancholy ghost story in which regrets and parental love sadden an old couple and Susie Moloney’s “The Audit” is a splendid, extremely original tale where true horror is represented by being audited by the Revenue Tax Office.
Other very good stories worth mentioning are Stewart Horn’s “Filmland”, an entertaining piece of urban horror, Christopher Nadeau’s “Always Say Treat” , a terrifying but dismal tale of Halloween terror, KA Opperman’s “Corn” an offbeat story of agricultural horror and, last but not least, “The Lost Sheep” by Jason Reynolds, an atmospheric yarn where a man looking for his sheep flock during a blizzard discovers the truth about himself.
The book also includes a bunch of dark poetry (that I’m not qualified to judge), various interesting interviews with famous genre writers such as 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.