25 April 2009

Ellen Datlow (editor) – Inferno – New Tales of Terror and the Supernatural

Posted by Dirk under: books .

Anthologies like this are about the only place to find horror short stories these days, which is unfortunate because I think scary short stories are pretty awesome.  The perfect length to read before turning off the light at night.  And reading one right before bed is like dropping a little bit of mental lsd into your dreams.

Ellen Datlow has been doing the horror thing for a couple of decades now.  She’s edited over 50 anthologies and won a ton of awards for doing so.  The point is, if you are gonna pick somebody to take you by the hand and show you what’s good in horror short fiction these days, she’s the one you wanna pick.

This anthology doesn’t have a theme. It’s 20 stories that Datlow chose “to showcase the range of subjects imagined by a number of my favorite writers inside and outside the horror field”.  When I looked through the contents I saw only half a dozen or so authors whose names were familiar to me.

The stories range all over the place.  Laird Barron’s The Forest had a Lovecraftian vibe to it that was cool. Christopher Fowler’s The Uninvited is a freaky little story set in Hollywood that slowly sets it’s hook and on the last page jerks the line and had me doing a mental WTF! and rereading the story 🙂  But that’s a good thing.  John Grant’s Lives could totally be an episode of The Twilight Zone.

Mark Samuels’ Ghorla is some wierd ass shit and ends with an image you might not actually want in your head right before turning off the light for the night.  But I liked it 🙂  Joyce Carol Oates’ Face is the shortest story in the anthology I think and is pretty straightforward. P.D. Cacek’s The Keeper is a post WWII slice of life that is rather sad.

Paul Finch’s Bethany’s Wood planted some creepy images in my head, I could totally see some of these scenes in my head, like a movie.  Lucius Shepard’s The Ease with Which We Freed the Beast had my favorite title.  The story itself was good enough that I’m going to have to read it again a time or two, I think.

Simon Bestwick’s Hushabye is another straightforward horror story about a monster and a man trying to destroy it. Glen Hirshberg’s The Janus Tree is one of the longer stories in this book but it hooked me early and kept up a steady pressure throughout.  An odd story with odd characters in a strange little town in Montana.

I don’t usually remember my dreams but sometimes I’ll be woken up by something while very deeply asleep and for a few minutes I’ll be totally disoriented as reality and my dream slowly seperate and my waking mind gathers up all the dream elements and puts them away.  Jefferey Ford’s The Bedroom Light is like one of those dreams.  While I’m reading it seems fairly normal but there is a part of my brain saying “Wait, wait, wait, this shit ain’t right man.  This was all supposed to be put back in the dream closet when you woke up!”  There isn’t really a lot to the story, it’s mostly a couple talking to each other about their lives, but their lives are tweaked in a fashion that I seem to recall from my own vague rememberances of my dreams.

I didn’t cover all the stories in the book above.  Not all of them really appealed to me and some I didn’t know what to say that might not ruin the story if you decide to read them.  But that is a good thing about a short story, you don’t have a huge investment in it.  If you finish reading it and it didn’t really hit you, you’re not really out all that much time.

Inferno: New Tales of Terror and the Supernatural

One Comment so far...

Ellen Datlow Says:

25 April 2009 at 2:30 pm.

Thanks so much for the review.

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