THE MONSTROUS is an utterly compelling cornucopia of horrors
The reviews and mentions for Ellen Datlow’s impressive THE MONSTROUS keep streaming in.
Ellen Datlow and friend
For ADVENTURES IN SCI FI PUBLISHING, John Dodds praises the anthology and the editor.
In THE MONSTROUS (Tachyon Publications), the latest anthology in which she holds the editorial reins, Ellen Datlow presents us with yet another utterly compelling cornucopia of horrors. In this case, tackling the theme of monsters and the various interpretations thereof. In her fascinating introduction, Ms. Datlow gives us the entomology of the word “monster”; originally it had benign interpretation meaning “to warn or instruct.” Arguably within the following pages we are indeed being warned or instructed, but not in any benign way whatsoever. If you require any warning up front, I would say this: don’t read these tales if you usually like to sleep with the light off (you may find your electricity bill increasing and you may possibly enjoy a touch of insomnia, to boot).
<Dodds then reviews every story>
When I learned that Corpsemouth by John Langan was set in and around Glasgow (where my own Kendrick Chronicles trilogy takes place), I was doubly keen to read it. On a visit to his ancestral Scottish home, the American protagonist learns that the final words of his dying father have profound and terrifying import. A fabulous story, and a great way to end this sterling anthology.
On a final note, my ARC didn’t contain the accompanying illustrations by John Coulthart. But from what I see on his website, they are brilliant. You can see a couple here illustrating this review.
At THIS IS HORROR, James Everington declared that there are “no bad stories” in the book.
Monsters are a staple of the horror genre, with countless books serving up reheated stories of vampires, were-creatures and Cthulhu. But as you might expect from editor Ellen Datlow, THE MONSTROUS is altogether more ambitious in its scope.
This anthology collects together stories about monsters from across the globe and different traditions. There’s nothing formulaic here and even where a recognisable creature from the horror pantheon appears, it’s not as we know it. This is also an anthology that largely steers clear of the overdone ‘humans are the real monsters’ trope–the beings in THE MONSTROUS are for the most part defiantly Other.
It opens strongly with ‘A Natural History of Autumn’ by Jeffrey Ford. This is a modern day Japanese noir, in which a business man takes a hired escort to an onsen (a thermal spring bathhouse). Like all good noirs the stories secrets are revealed gradually and the monster, presumably one from Japanese folklore, is for Western readers something of a surprise.
<Everington then reviews every story>
Overall, THE MONSTROUS is one of the most impressive themed anthologies of the year, varied in terms of theme and style, but fortunately not in terms of quality. There are no bad stories and the standard caveat applies: every reader’s favourites will differ. Datlow’s reputation as one of the best anthology editors in the business endures.
THIS IS HORROR further honors the anthology with a nomination for the THIS IS HORROR Award 2015.
It’s that time of year again, friends. The This Is Horror Awards 2015 are now open. Please send your votes to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line ‘Awards 2015’. To cast a vote simply write the category and your vote for each award. You may vote for your top two in each category. For example:
1. First choice
2. Second choice
This is in place in the event there is a tie breaker for first place after the votes have been counted.
Anthology of the Year
Aickman’s Heirs, edited by Simon Strantzas
Choose Wisely: 35 Women Up To No Good, co-edited by H. L. Nelson and Joanne Merriam
Cthulhu Fhtagn!, edited by Ross E. Lockhart
Exigencies: A Neo-Noir Anthology, edited by Richard Thomas
Hanzai Japan: Fantastical, Futuristic Stories of Crime From and About Japan, edited by Nick Mamatas and Masumi Washington
The Monstrous, edited by Ellen Datlow
In the conclusion to his October report (issued on December 28), THE MONSTROUS contributor John Langan recounts the Halloween event at the Brooklyn bookstore WORD.
John Langan at WORD.
A considerable crowd filled the bookstore’s basement reading space; I was happy to see Ellen Datlow, Michael Calia, Robert Levy, Ardi Alspach, and well-known diva Theresa DeLucci among its numbers. The reading itself went well: Ryan Britt made some interesting and amusing references to vampire trousers. Laird [Barron] read from his introduction to THE CASE AGAINST SATAN, and a brief excerpt from the novel, itself. Livia [Llewellyn] delivered a powerhouse reading; she’s a talented and inspired performer of her own work who never fails to impress, and if you have a chance to see her read, you should. Tobias Carroll read about half of one of Thomas Ligotti’s stories, and I have to say, brought out a humor I hadn’t recognized in Ligotti’s work before. I read a self-contained narrative from my story, “Corpsemouth,” which appeared in Ellen’s THE MONSTROUS.
For more on THE MONSTROUS, visit the Tachyon page.
Cover by Reiko Murakami
Illustrations by John Coulthart
Cover design by Elizabeth Story