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The Satyr’s Head by David A. Sutton

The Satyr’s Head : Tales Of Terror

Selected by David A. Sutton

Published by Shadow Publishing, 2012.

There’s a bit of a 70’s revival going on at that moment so look out your glam gear, platform shoes and Abba LP’s and let’s head back to the early 1970’s when David A. Sutton was busy putting together the Third volume of New Writings in Horror and the Supernatural, unfortunately the original publishers dropped the series but it was eventually published in 1975 by Corgi books and then promptly went out of print. This will be the first chance many of us have had to read some of these stories and indeed some of these authors so let’s dive in.

James Wade is one of the more interesting authors on display here, settling in Korea after the war his writing ranged from articles on music and war stories to Cthulhu Mythos tales. The Nightingale Floors is a strong start to the collection exploring the “delusions of sound and sight” on a museum night-watchman. It’s a quiet, ambiguous and very enjoyable read.

Ramsey Campbell has gone on to be revered for his atmospheric horror tales and while some of that talent is on display in The Previous Tenant, there are also signs of an author learning his craft. The dense, at times almost poetic prose, often feels overwritten, with maybe one too many metaphors thrown into the mix, but it’s still a memorable tale of obsession.

Martin I. Ricketts gives us The Night Fisherman. I’ve not come across this author before but this is an enjoyable, short and pointed story. Sugar And Spice And All Things Nice by David A. Sutton is an excellent and moving tale of a man who, faced with a monotonous job, enjoys watching the world go by his window right up until a mysterious girl shows up.

Provisioning by David Campton is a tongue in cheek tale about two god fearing hillbilly brothers, Keziah and Adam and their quest for food, its all gory good fun. Another gory tale is Perfect Lady by Robin Smyth which although interesting was one of the books weaker stories.

The Business About Fred by Joseph Payne Brennan, in contrast to the previous two stories, was rich and moving, full of pathos and sadness, as a lonely figure in a bar considers his effect on the world. Brian Lumley’s Aunt Hester takes a long time to reach its conclusion but the ending redeems any faults in the earlier pacing.

Finally we have two occult horrors starting with A Pentagram For Cenaide by Eddy C. Bertin. A prolific SF, horror and children’s author Bertin’s tale is one of the best in this collection. Another slow starter but one which certainly repays the readers persistence with a rich and involved tale of a painters obsession with the wife of a friend. Finally we have The Satyr’s Head by David A. Riley which reads like a lovechild of M. R. James and Dennis Wheatly as the occult powers of an ancient artifact are unwittingly found by Henry Lamson.  It’s an enjoyable tale but as, perhaps, the most “seventies” tale here it hasn’t dated as well as some of the others.

So turns out that as well as being great for spacehoppers and polyester the 1970’s was also producing some excellent horror fiction and this anthology give you the opportunity to revisit some of it.

Rating 4 out of 5

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Filed under fiction, horror, Review, short, story

The Horror Anthology Of Horror Anthologies edited by D.F. Lewis

 

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.

[rating:4]

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Filed under dark, fiction, horror, short, story