(credit: THIS IS HORROR)
When it comes to the large and unwieldy amount of horror anthologies on the market, figuring out what books are worth your time can be difficult. What’s the true selling point of a collection – is it the names within? The subject matter? Maybe it’s the book’s cover art.
In the case of NIGHTMARES: A NEW DECADE OF MODERN HORROR, the selling point is its esteemed editor. A multiple Hugo, Locus, Bram Stoker and Shirley Jackson award winner, Ellen Datlow has made an impressive career curating the best in short horror fiction. Among her most popular compilations is DARKNESS: TWO DECADES OF MODERN HORROR, which spotlighted works from between 1985 and 2005. Datlow has now put her estimable skills to NIGHTMARES, which collects tales previously published between 2005 and 2015.
Simply put: they’re all unequivocally, oppressively frightening. From monsters in the woods to the pits of Hell, Datlow has compiled works that stick with the reader. Especially riveting is Kaaron Warren ’s “Dead Sea Fruit,” which introduced the Ash Mouth Man, a character whose kiss will cause those on the receiving end to waste away, but who comes up against a steely dentist who has a way with a scalpel.
Equally compelling is Files’ police procedural “Spectral Evidence,” the story of a medium’s death told via photographic descriptions and copious footnotes, rather than with conventional prose. Stylistically, “Dead Sea Fruit” and “Spectral Evidence” couldn’t be more different, but both serve up the scares admirably. The same can be said for all the tales in the compilation.
For fans of short fiction that cuts deep, NIGHTMARES: A NEW DECADE OF MODERN HORROR couldn’t be recommended more highly.
STORIES & MOVEMENT enjoys the anthology.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This is an anthology of 24 horror short stories. Horror is a simplification; there are several cross-genre pieces (e.g. dark sci-fi, dark historical fiction, tales of the weird, etc.) as well as stories that have a realistic—but dark—tone. However, it’s all fiction linked by a visceral darkness.
These stories have all been previously published in various magazines or collections, and they were all written during the decade between 2005 and 2015.
1.) “Shallaballah” by Mark Samuels: A celebrity awakens in a hospital after a drunken crash that necessitated reconstructive surgery. It slowly dawns on him that the clinic isn’t what it seemed. This is an intriguing and distinctive tale.
2.) “Sob in the Silence” by Gene Wolfe: A horror writer has the family of an old friend to his house. He tells them that it’s the “least haunted house in the Midwest,” despite a gruesome history that suggests a place where evil comes to play. This was among my favorites. The horror writer character is well-developed.
<Reviews of every story in the book>
This is a strong collection. There are several stories that have that cinematic quality that make for gripping reading. There weren’t any pieces that I didn’t at all care for, and there were several that hooked me.
I’d recommend this collection for those who like dark fiction.
For more info about NIGHTMARES: A NEW DECADE OF MODERN HORROR, visit the Tachyon page.
Cover by Nihil
Design by Elizabeth Story
For more info about DARKNESS: TWO DECADES OF MODERN HORROR, visit the Tachyon page.
Cover by Ann Monn