The Horror Anthology of Horror Anthologies
Edited by D. F. Lewis
Published by Megazanthus Press, 2011.
D.F. Lewis knows a thing or two about horror anthologies. From 2001 to 2010 he created the Nemonymous series of anthologies, a series which published the stories anonymously to remove any reader preconceptions of prejudices. This background and love of the short story collection has led to this new venture, a collection of twenty stories all with one recurring theme, the horror anthology. In the hands of a diverse and talented group of writers this has produced a collection that, while unified in theme, covers a huge range of styles which keeps the anthology fresh and entertaining.
Given the love most horror fans have for the anthologies they read as youngsters it’s perhaps not surprising than many of the stories focus on that nostalgic yearning for the books of our youth. Horror Stories For Boys by Rachel Kendall revisits an abusive childhood and the escape offered by a much loved book, it’s a rich and emotionally powerful story. Midnight Flight by Joel Lane also focuses on the moving quest for lost youth as an old man tries to track down a long lost anthology.
Of course it’s not all golden nostalgia there are plenty of darker tales here. The opener, It’s Only Words by Colleen Anderson is a “chronicle of pain and lonliness” where a library of horror anthologies is used to teach others life lessons in a variety of splendidly gruesome ways. The Useless by Dominy Clements starts out as a cliche, a breakdown in the dusty west, but soon moves beyond that into a nightmarish exploration of the power of words. The Fifth Corner by E. Michael Lewis is another dark tale which has some powerfully scary scenes as an old vehicle refuses to give up it’s secrets.
It’s not all darkness, there is humour, of a sort, in Rhys Hughes’ Tears Of The Mutant Jesters a typically Hughesean bizarre tale which bends, warps and twists the English language into a remarkable story about sick books. There’s environmental awareness in Tree Ring Anthology by Daniel Ausema a powerful, at times poetic, piece which uses the rings of a tree as an anthology of the impact of man on the environment.
Other favourites include The Follower by Tony Lovell a moving tale focusing on one woman’s life and the emotional power of books. Flowers Of The Sea by Reggie Oliver is a typically, beautifully written and moving tale where a woman sinks into the wilderness of dementia. The Rediscovery Of Death by Mike O’Driscoll finds a small press publisher given the opportunity of a lifetime, the use of real people and facts help give this story weight. The American Club by Christopher Morris is a griping dark story which sees a son dicover his father’s hidden talent for writing and the dark secret behind that talent.
Those are just some of the highlights from what was an excellent anthology with enough variety to please most readers. A couple of the stories didn’t really connect with me but again with the variety of styles on offer that’s probably to be expected. D.F. Lewis is to be congratulated for continually pushing the genre in new directions and in seeking out material from some lesser known but very talented writers. The Horror Anthology Of Horror Anthologies is an excellent collection and highly recommended.