A pair of reviews for Ellen Datlow’s captivating THE MONSTROUS.
Ellen Datlow and her furry friend are enjoying all the attention.
June Pulliam in DEAD RECKONINGS No.
18 (print only) praises both the anthology and its editor.
children who came to my door for candy this Halloween were all aware
of the predominant tropes of the monstrous, given their costumes. I
recognized many at-tempts to recreate the reigning monster of the
decade, the zombie, along with a few vampires and witches. And so,
when a monster becomes so recognizable that it be-comes an actual
trope, it begins to become domesticated and so loses its power to
shock. None of the monsters in Ellen Datlow’s new anthology, THE
MONSTROUS, fit into any recognizable type of monster, some-thing that
makes the stories truly unsettling.
seems to raise the question of what a monster is, and it frightens
us. Simply put, the monster is a creature that crosses borders:
between male and female, between human and animal, between sentient
human and unfeeling machine, between life and death. These borders
are shorthand ways of understanding the nature of our environment and
methods of understanding the underpinnings of the binary logic that
structures our daily thinking. However, these categories are not
absolute; they are more fragile than we would like to believe, a
weakness that the monster always emphasizes through its presence. So
we can kill the monster and thus re-establish the seeming solidity of
these borders, or we can (or can be forced to) accept the monster as
part of our universe and modify our thinking accordingly.
the twenty stories in THE MONSTROUS are by well-known writers of
fantastic fiction and reprinted from other sources, but that does not
make the collection any less delightful. Rather, it has made me
better appreciate the unseen hand of a skilled editor such as Datlow,
who has won many awards, including a World Fantasy Award for Lifetime
Achievement. A good editor of an anthology is no mere compiler.
Rather, her artistry is demonstrated through her ability to select
works that fit into a tightly controlled theme, as well as her
ability to shape that theme so that the resulting work does not
resemble a hostage situation, where it seems that several loosely
connected stories were rounded up in the night and held captive
between the covers of a book. Readers of fantastic fiction who are
steeped in all its conventions will find many pieces in this
collection to their liking.
THE MONSTROUS, edited by Ellen Datlow, is a collection of short stories that run the gamut of strange and otherworldly.
Vivid imagery and compelling narratives help make this collection of stories an interesting read. Readers will be able to find something in this collection to sate their horror story needs.
For more on THE MONSTROUS, visit the Tachyon page.
Cover by Reiko Murakami
Illustrations by John Coulthart
Cover design by Elizabeth Story