One of the greatest collections of horror stories ever, Ellen Datlow’s NIGHTMARES will scare the crap out of you
A trio of reviews for Ellen Datlow’s invaluable NIGHTMARES: A NEW DECADE OF MODERN HORROR.
Amy Lignor of the print only SUSPENSE MAGAZINE is terrified by the anthology.
you want the pants scared right off you, this is one of the greatest
collections of horror stories ever printed. And that is not an
exaggeration. NIGHTMARES is the perfect title for this
assemblage of twenty-four tales that will have any reader running
around the house making sure that every light in every room is on.
Heck, you’ll probably even ask your neighbors to light up their
houses so that the backyard will not own any shadows.
handful of extremely talented writers have compiled their best
chilling stories, reminding readers that all sorts of evil walks
among us and will not disappear just because we want them to.
review could go on and on, but this reviewer needs to find a
fun-filled, colorful, children’s book to read (with illustrations)
just so my heart rate can slow back down. Enjoy, horror fans. In this
frightening tome, there’s something for everybody.
BATTERED, TATTERED, YELLOWED, & CREASED enjoys the book.
Ellen Datlow has edited a huge number of horror and dark fantasy anthologies in the last thirty years, and one of the more important volumes was DARKNESS: TWO DECADES OF MODERN HORROR. This book collected some of the best horror short fiction from 1984 to 2005, a veritable who’s-who of horror’s movers and shakers: from King, Barker, Simmons, Straub, Lansdale, Schow, Gaiman, Steve Rasnic Tem, George R.R. Martin, all the way to Joe Hill, Kelly Link, and Elizabeth Hand. Darkness isn’t the best of the genre, but it’s an excellent cross-section; it holds up as an invaluable, must-read anthology, and I consider it a foundational work for those who want to see the evolution of horror as a genre.
Now, ten years later, comes a book called NIGHTMARES: A NEW DECADE OF MODERN HORROR, also edited by Datlow. If you can’t tell by the title, this is pretty much DARKNESS PART II, collecting 24 stories from 2005 to 2015. The table of contents ranges from established authors dipping their toes into horror, to new masters, to young up-and-comers already making their mark on the genre. The list includes Caitlín R. Kiernan, Laird Barron, Gene Wolfe, Richard Kadry, Brian Hodge, Gemma Files, Lisa Tuttle, Stephen Graham Jones, Garth Nix, and more. The bottom line, though, is that this volume contains some of the best short horror of the last ten years.
I think NIGHTMARES is a worthy successor to DARKNESS, an excellent collection in its own right. There’s a variety of stories here, and no matter what kind of horror terrifies or fascinates you, there’s probably a few stories here perfect for your taste. Datlow has a nigh-immaculate eye for stories, often passing up on obvious choices in favor of an author doing something new or unique, making the collection feel more personal and interesting. Die-hard horror aficionados may have seen these already—I read Brian Hodge’s chilling “Our Turn Too Will One Day Come” just last year when I reviewed Datlow’s THE MONSTROUS anthology, for example, and a vigorous reader of Datlow’s
HORROR OF THE YEAR series will have read most of this volume. But for the novice or neophyte, this is another invaluable collection. It’s not exactly the “best of the best” of the last ten years… but it may as well be. NIGHTMARES works as a great introduction to recent horror short stories, and includes some downright chilling stories. Pick it up and prepare to have the crap scared out of you.
Ellen Datlow (credit: THIS IS HORROR)
VENTUREADLAXRE gives the book 4 out of 5 stars.
This collection was picked up initially because it included some favourite authors, such as Kaaron Warrn, Margo Lanagan and Garth Nix, along with the knowledge of Datlow’s brilliance, and that I trust Tachyon as a publisher in general. 24 short stories, female editor, 15 contributors assumed to be male, seven female and two unknown, is certainly strange to see from Australia when our horror scene is so female-strong. I would have liked to see more female contributors, but I trust Datlow and Tachyon both, so onwards with the reading and reviewing.
Shallaballah by Mark Samuels
We open with a Frankenstein’s Monster-like tale, of a man with a face that’s a patchwork of skin. It sets the tone for the whole anthology, showing us the darker side of speculative fiction in this collection of modern horror stories.
Sogol works in the entertainment industry, and after a horrific car accident needs the knife skills of a possibly-insane cosmetic surgeon who is the only one who has the talent to get him back in front of the cameras in time. He’s assured that in mere days his scars will start to fade and his hair will regrow, but as time ticks on and he suffers one insult after another in this dim and dirty place (and he’s a celebrity, he’s used to better, this is an outrage!) one starts to ponder what he’s exactly found himself in…
The Atlas of Hell by Nathan Ballingrud
Jack, a bookstore owner, gets a midnight visit from a muscley chap named Patrick, who’s shot a guy in the head but the guy kept standing there, until Patrick said ‘Lay down! You’re dead! I shot you!’ …and then the guy drops ‘like a fucking tree’. Jack doesn’t know what to make of this story and wrongly laughs, making Patrick only angrier.
It spills out from there, and we have an excellent ramble of a story that seems just dangerous enough to keep you turning the pages, interested, but not grossed out or too worried by what’s going on. Really enjoyed this one.
Ambitious Boys Like You by Richard Kadrey
It’s 2am, and a couple of cousins are up to no good. They pull up outside a derelict house – one Witt always used to avoid as a kid for thinking it was haunted. His cousin, Sonny, is from Houston and doesn’t believe in anything. They cover their faces and get out of the car and Witt starts thinking about what he hopes to find through this robbery – he wants cash, not gold, noting he’s not a pirate and wouldn’t know what to do with gold really anyway.
This is a good ending to the anthology, a slow burning and longer short than most, and a strange tale that’s a little like Home Alone with strange things happening that must be tricks or something… but even more sinister, and not as funny. The timing in this one is excellent, and well worth the placement.
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
For more on THE MONSTROUS, visit the Tachyon page.
Cover by Reiko Murakami
Cover design by Elizabeth Story