A quartet of reviews for Ellen Datlow’s must-own anthology NIGHTMARES: A NEW DECADE OF MODERN HORROR.
(credit: THIS IS HORROR)
At CEMETERY DANCE, Blu Gilliand praises the collection.
Ellen Datlow has been charting the course of horror fiction for over 35 years. In that time, she has maintained a balanced perspective in her numerous anthologies and collections, always casting an appreciative eye toward the established masters of horror while shining a light on the talent tasked with carrying the genre forward.
Her latest effort, NIGHTMARES: A NEW DECADE OF MODERN HORROR, looks back at the period of 2005-2015 (picking up where her DARKNESS: TWO DECADES OF MODERN HORROR left off) with 24 hand-picked stories that Datlow says “have had a lasting impact on me.” Those words carry a lot of weight; although Datlow takes pains in her Introduction to classify herself as a horror enthusiast rather than a horror expert, you would be hard pressed to find someone with more knowledge of modern horror literature. With that in mind, these stories are as good a map of the genre’s journey as you’re likely to find, drawing a definitive line from where it’s been to where it’s going.
What this particular map shows is that horror may not be venturing into new territory—there are a number of familiar tropes here, including post-apocalyptic futures, creepy dolls and urban legends come to life—but writers are finding new ways to tell familiar stories.
But NIGHTMARES is an overall success, mainly because Datlow is not just an expert (sorry, Ellen, but it’s the right word) at recognizing great horror; she’s an expert at recognizing great storytelling. That she’s drawn to horror and has chosen the genre for her life’s work is good for the genre, and good for us.
Barry Lee Dejasu for NEW YORK JOURNAL OF BOOKS lauds the collection.
For over three
decades, genre fiction’s reigning editor Ellen Datlow has helmed
nearly a hundred anthologies, including the acclaimed YEAR’S BEST
FANTASY AND HORROR series (co-edited with Terri Windling, from 1988
to 2008) and THE BEST HORROR OF THE YEAr (2009–). Datlow has put
out some of the highest-quality horror anthologies in the market, but
also humbly states that she’s no expert or critic of the genre;
even so, in the world of high-quality modern horror in the market,
Datlow is an undeniable authority.
So it was that back
in 2010 that Datlow released an anthology called DARKNESS: TWO
DECADES OF MODERN HORROR. She combed through the bevy of shorter-form
fiction from the almost two decades’ worth of horror from 1984 and
on up through 2005, selecting a wide variety of stories that were
particular standouts to her. In her introduction to NIGHTMARES: A NEW
DECADE OF MODERN HORROR, Datlow states that her new anthology “could
be considered a sequel to Darkness.”
NIGHTMARES is more than just a memorable and collective anthology; it is an excellent showcase of some of the finest names in contemporary horror and weird fiction, as well as one of the knowledgeable influence of the genre’s leading editors.
For BOOK RIOT, Keith Rawson gives NIGHTMARES the Bookshots treatment
Not to repeat myself (or, more accurately, repeat Ellen Datlow), but over the last decade, horror has seen a major resurgence. You know, not that there weren’t some truly amazing writers working their asses off back in the day, but the sheer mass of creativity coming out of the genre has been impressive to say the least. And I imagine putting together an anthology representing the whole of this rush of diverse talent and ingenuity would be next to impossible to assemble. But, yet, Datlow manages to do so.
For horror fans, NIGHTMARES: A NEW DECADE OF MODERN HORROR, is a must own anthology. Simply put, you need this on your shelf. But for non-horror fans who have been thinking about dipping their toes into the genre, this is a perfect place to start kicking the tires.
MK French at GIRL WHO READS reviews the book.
Ellen Datlow has curated countless collections of horror and fantasy; anything with her name attached pretty much guarantees that the stories I’m about to read are high quality and will linger in my mind long after I finish reading the book. This volume of twenty-four stories is not an exception to that rule. The authors of the individual tales are well known in horror and other genres and do involve topics that might leave you queasy. There’s the horror of the every day – kidnapping, incest, murder, torture – as well as the supernatural elements that include body horror and modification. Some of the stories have unreliable narrators, and most of the grotesqueries aren’t described in explicit detail. Still, if you have a very vivid imagination, you can’t help but picture it in your mind and feel the shivers.
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