The Seventh Black Book of Horror
Edited by Charles Black
Published by Mortbury Press, 2010
October 2010 has been a great month for horror anthologies. First we get the reprint of the first Pan Book Of Horror Stories and now the latest edition of its spiritual successor. With 17 tales of horror from some of the best in the business it promises a lot but does it deliver?
- The Pier by Thana Niveau
This story takes us to the remains of a burnt out pier in an English seaside resort. Despite the warnings Alan and Claudia venture out onto the pier revealing its dark secrets. Short story but with rich descriptive passages evoking an excellent sense of place, 4/5.
- Minos or Rhadamanthus by Reggie Oliver
A former schoolboy is reunited with his sadistic former teacher in unusual circumstances in this dark story of punishment and torture, 4/5.
- Morning’s Echo by Joel Lane
A very short story concerning an unusual affair, short but clever, 3/5.
- It Begins at Home by John Llewellyn Probert
JLP’s fiction often tends to the humorous side of scary but this story is much darker as it exposes the black heart of advertising, 4/5.
- Flitching’s Revenge by Gary Power
An excellent tale of revenge as a group of vigilantes pick on the wrong person, 5/5.
- Rest in Pieces by David Williamson
Undertaker, nagging wife…need I say more. A humorous take on the revenge story, 4/5.
- Walk To The Sea by Rog Pile
Rog Pile evokes a marvellously, malevolent air in this story in which a walk on the beach turns into a nightmare, 5/5.
- Romero’s Children by David A. Riley
A new and clever take on the much used and abused zombie tale in which an anti-ageing drug has some terrible side effects, 5/5.
- The Green Bath by Paul Finch
Paul Finch manages to include his usual blend of horror and history but spices it up with a large doze of eroticism in this ghostly encounter, 4/5.
- Telling by Steve Rasnic Tem
A short haunted house tale that left me wanting more, felt a bit unfinished, 2/5.
- Swell Head by Stephen Volk
Marvellously surreal tale of a young boy’s coming of age and his relationship with his “different” brother, 5/5.
- Walking The Dyke by Alex Langley
A writer seeks revenge on a critic in an unusual way, having read what could happen there’s no way I was going to give this a bad review, luckily I didn’t have to, 4/5.
- The Creaking by Anna Taborska
A slightly rushed feel to an otherwise enjoyable tale of an innocent girl caught up in a case of mistaken identity, 3/5.
- Bernard Bought The Farm by James Stanger
No detail is spared in this vicious mix of All Creatures Great and Small and Saw. Bestiality, perversion and extreme animal cruelty are depicted in eye watering detail. Of course this level of violence won’t be for all. For me it’s one of the less enjoyable yet probably the most memorable of the stories, 3/5.
- Ted’s Collection by Claude Lalumiere
Another violently disturbing tale which starts well but the repetitive shock tends to wear off towards the end, 3/5.
- New Teacher by Craig Herbertson
Decidedly unsettling tale of what goes on behind the staff room doors, 4/5.
- The In-betweeners by Tony Richards
Tony Richards conjures up some excellent imagery in this piece when urban culture meets horrific monsters, 4/5.
So there you have it, an excellent collection by anyone’s standards and one of the best Black Books so far. Standouts for me were Stephen Volk’s surreal Swell Head and David A. Riley’s resurrection of the zombie tale in Romero’s Children but as always the beauty of these collections is the sheer variety on offer which means there is something for all tastes. Try it, you won’t be disappointed.