Review of Nightmares: A New Decade of Modern Horror

September 28, 2016

 

To describe this anthology collectively solid would be an understatement. Though not all tickled equally, all proved merit in garnering attention for a sampler of the traits befitting best horror fiction written in the last decade. Originality oozes from these tales (as does much blood, tears and cries) like flags risen in newly discovered dirt masses.

Twenty authors. Twenty stories. There are no great momentum shifts in this collection. Mark Samuels’ Shallaballah is the first and offers an eerie oddity setting a tone that sways little.

Off-putting. Vivid. Thrilling.

Gene Wolfe uses classic terror and shock rolling toward due reward within a heavy haunted house-ish atmosphere. Sob in Silence screams of slow pain.

Kaaron Warren uses a childish monster to build an improbable suspense that sticks around in your mouth long after concluding. Dead Sea Fruit reads like a shark circling before it finally bites.

In Closet Dreams Lisa Tuttle presents expectation and foreboding in the shape of hope in order to crush any sense of safety.

Stephen Graham Jones kicks up dust with an old medicine man using crackers to create chaos and impending doom leading to just desserts. Lonegan’s Luck was my favorite of the collection. It piled layer upon layer, like, uh, cake.

Ray Cluley builds on action, horrible, loud, violent demons in a hard time, to sneak in quiet, back-door dread that proves nothing less than jarring. At Night, When the Demons Come By is all the hopeful tomorrows stabbed in the back.

Richard Kadrey’s Ambitious Boys Like You concludes the event, which this collection really is, an event, with a tale of moral ambiguity meeting mad magic. Slip some skin and see forever.

The different shades of horror shared a quality of writing rarely met in a collection of shorts from such a variety of authors. Deep, rich scenery, multi-dimensional heroes and villains, scenes of strong atmosphere and believability, it is here and thick all over. The weirdness and newness of the voiced themes adds to the overall appeal in a way so rare it’s still bleeding.  

In her own words, editor Ellen Datlow is an enthusiast of horror and enough so that, though not declaring it a best of, can put together volumes of her favorite short horror fictions spanning a decade and present it as something just like that. Nightmares, horror reprinted for works originally published from 2005-2015 is of the highest quality of anthology available.

 

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Unnerving 
Powell River, British Columbia, Canada
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