Hot Best Seller

Poe's Children: The New Horror

Availability: Ready to download

From the incomparable master of horror and suspense comes an electrifying collection of contemporary literary horror, with stories from twenty-five writers representing today’s most talented voices in the genre. Horror writing is usually associated with formulaic gore, but New Wave horror writers have more in common with the wildly inventive, evocative spookiness of Edgar Allangenre. From the incomparable master of horror and suspense comes an electrifying collection of contemporary literary horror, with stories from twenty-five writers representing today’s most talented voices in the genre. Horror writing is usually associated with formulaic gore, but New Wave horror writers have more in common with the wildly inventive, evocative spookiness of Edgar Allan Poe than with the sometimes-predictable hallmarks of their peers. Showcasing this cutting-edge talent, Poe’s Children now brings the best of the genre’s stories to a wider audience. Featuring tales from such writers as Neil Gaiman and Jonathan Carroll, Poe’s Children is Peter Straub’s tribute to the imaginative power of storytelling. Each previously published story has been selected by Straub to represent what he thinks is the most interesting development in our literature during the last two decades. Selections range from the early Stephen King psychological thriller “The Ballad of the Flexible Bullet,” in which an editor confronts an author’s belief that his typewriter is inhabited by supernatural creatures, to “The Man on the Ceiling,” Melanie and Steve Rasnic Tem’s award-winning surreal tale of night terrors, woven with daylight fears that haunt a family. Other selections include National Book Award finalist Dan Chaon’s “The Bees”; Peter Straub’s “Little Red’s Tango,” the legend of a music aficionado whose past is as mysterious as the ghostly visitors to his Manhattan apartment; Elizabeth Hand’s visionary and shocking “Cleopatra Brimstone”; Thomas Ligotti’s brilliant, mind-stretching “Notes on the Writing of Horror: A Story”; and “Body,” Brian Evenson’s disturbing twist on correctional facilities. Crossing boundaries and packed with imaginative chills, Poe’s Children bears all the telltale signs of fearless, addictive fiction.


Compare

From the incomparable master of horror and suspense comes an electrifying collection of contemporary literary horror, with stories from twenty-five writers representing today’s most talented voices in the genre. Horror writing is usually associated with formulaic gore, but New Wave horror writers have more in common with the wildly inventive, evocative spookiness of Edgar Allangenre. From the incomparable master of horror and suspense comes an electrifying collection of contemporary literary horror, with stories from twenty-five writers representing today’s most talented voices in the genre. Horror writing is usually associated with formulaic gore, but New Wave horror writers have more in common with the wildly inventive, evocative spookiness of Edgar Allan Poe than with the sometimes-predictable hallmarks of their peers. Showcasing this cutting-edge talent, Poe’s Children now brings the best of the genre’s stories to a wider audience. Featuring tales from such writers as Neil Gaiman and Jonathan Carroll, Poe’s Children is Peter Straub’s tribute to the imaginative power of storytelling. Each previously published story has been selected by Straub to represent what he thinks is the most interesting development in our literature during the last two decades. Selections range from the early Stephen King psychological thriller “The Ballad of the Flexible Bullet,” in which an editor confronts an author’s belief that his typewriter is inhabited by supernatural creatures, to “The Man on the Ceiling,” Melanie and Steve Rasnic Tem’s award-winning surreal tale of night terrors, woven with daylight fears that haunt a family. Other selections include National Book Award finalist Dan Chaon’s “The Bees”; Peter Straub’s “Little Red’s Tango,” the legend of a music aficionado whose past is as mysterious as the ghostly visitors to his Manhattan apartment; Elizabeth Hand’s visionary and shocking “Cleopatra Brimstone”; Thomas Ligotti’s brilliant, mind-stretching “Notes on the Writing of Horror: A Story”; and “Body,” Brian Evenson’s disturbing twist on correctional facilities. Crossing boundaries and packed with imaginative chills, Poe’s Children bears all the telltale signs of fearless, addictive fiction.

30 review for Poe's Children: The New Horror

  1. 5 out of 5

    Nandakishore Varma

    Peter Straub is out to prove a point: horror fiction can be literary. It is not necessarily hack. Edgar Allan Poe wrote macabre fiction (and poetry), and he is considered one of America's classic authors - so why not these new purveyors of nightmares? Well, I agree. For example, nobody in their right mind would call Stephen King a hack: and there are many others in that category - Straub himself, Ramsey Campbell, Joe Hill et al. The only question is whether they would be considered li Peter Straub is out to prove a point: horror fiction can be literary. It is not necessarily hack. Edgar Allan Poe wrote macabre fiction (and poetry), and he is considered one of America's classic authors - so why not these new purveyors of nightmares? Well, I agree. For example, nobody in their right mind would call Stephen King a hack: and there are many others in that category - Straub himself, Ramsey Campbell, Joe Hill et al. The only question is whether they would be considered literary. It seems that the establishment is still wary of calling horror stories literature. Many of the stories in this book are literature. I have no problem on that count. But I had a problem - most of these stories were not scary. Surreal, yes; weird, undoubtedly. But not scary. Not even anywhere remotely near Poe. 3.5 stars – not quite reaching 4. I deducting half a star for false promises. -------------------------------------------- The stories are a mixed bag. The Bees by Dan Chaon and The Two Sams by Glen Hirshberg talk of family tragedies that border on real, supernatural horror. Dan Chaon's story is tanatlisingly ambiguous, his signature written all over it. Hirshberg's story was more painful for me, as it closely paralleled a dark period in my own life. These are good stories, and the horror is mostly inside the reader's head. The only old-fashioned horror story in the book is In Praise of Folly. It is about something which I call "The Bad Place" personally; somewhere one had better not go. But people do, unfortunately - and thus are horror stories born. This one was enjoyable and mildly creepy. In Malayalam we have a saying: "The torch lit from the wick", to describe progeny who outstrip their parents. Joe Hill might be one. I thoroughly enjoyed 20th Century Ghost, which played with the romance and unreality of cinema juxtaposed against an old-fashioned ghost story. Stephen King can be proud. There are a handful of stories here which are not outright horror but dark fantasy - Louise's Ghost, The Sadness of Detail, Leda... They were entertaining, but there was nothing frightening – not even a mild unease. However, October in the Chair by Neil Gaiman, though not a horror story as such, was genuinely disturbing. I found a couple of surreal gems in The Man on the Ceiling and Cleopatra Brimstone. The latter one explores the connection between sex and obsessive collecting – it’s John Fowles’ The Collector from a female point of view. Insect Dreams also features a female insect collector, but the evil here is non-supernatural. The Kiss was like a story from EC Comics, with its sordid crime and frightening retribution. It was enjoyable for that reason alone. There were a few passable and not-so-passable stories I have not mentioned by name. They were all readable, but nothing to write home about. There were three stories in the book which left me totally confused as to what the author was talking about - The Voice on the Beach by Ramsey Campbell, The Body by Brian Evenson and Little Red’s Tango by Peter Straub. In fact, the last two may tie for the award of “The Most Confusing Story Ever Read by Nandakishore”. In case anybody who reads the book can make head or tail out of them, please let me know. I shall be eternally grateful. -------------------------------------------- Oh, and by the way, there’s Stephen King… enough said.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Erika Schoeps

    Overall: 3 stars The Bees: 4 stars Cleopatra Brimstone: 4 stars The Man on the Ceiling: 3 stars. The writing of this piece is intentionally obscure, and it can be kind of annoying… but overall, a beautifully written story with a deeper meaning lurking beneath the heavy-handed writing. The Great God Pan: 1 star. I have no idea what’s going on here, and the characters are SO annoying. I couldn’t finish it. The Voice of the Beach: 1.5 stars. I managed to finish this o Overall: 3 stars The Bees: 4 stars Cleopatra Brimstone: 4 stars The Man on the Ceiling: 3 stars. The writing of this piece is intentionally obscure, and it can be kind of annoying… but overall, a beautifully written story with a deeper meaning lurking beneath the heavy-handed writing. The Great God Pan: 1 star. I have no idea what’s going on here, and the characters are SO annoying. I couldn’t finish it. The Voice of the Beach: 1.5 stars. I managed to finish this one, but it was still pretty horrible. The story decides to be mysterious, but instead of creating mystery with literary skill, it just doesn’t explain what’s going on. Dear Authors: doing this to your audience is dreadful, and means that you are a lazy writer, not ‘mysterious’. Although this aspect of the story makes everything really annoying, what I hated most were the CONSTANT and OVERBEARING descriptions of the main character being dizzy. The main character gets sunstroke, and on every single page there is a long-winded, heavy, and ‘poetic’ description of the main character feeling dizzy and sick. I have absolutely no idea why this was so constant… did any editor ever have a look at this before printing it? Despite this short story’s enormous drawbacks, I was still creeped out by the premise. This had the potential to be something really great. Body: 1 star. This short story was awful. Yet again, the author uses the device where he doesn’t tell you anything to create mystery. Instead it just left me confused and uninterested. Here, let’s look at an excerpt that shows you how completely obtuse this story is. “Every shoe was once a woman,” he says. “A shoe is a woman in a new body. There is for your purpose, no distinction.” “Welt,” he whispers. “Box.” Dear reader of this review, don’t think that I’m being ridiculous and pulling something totally out of context. There is no context, and after reading the entire story, this quote still doesn’t make a lick of sense. ‘Body’ is a convoluted mess of a short story. Louise’s Ghost: 4.5 stars. I read this short story in another collection, and I enjoyed it just as much when I read it that. An original premise, and endearing, quirky characters. I got even more out of this story the 2nd time through. The only fault in this story was that I sometimes feel as if the author was trying too hard to make her characters seem quirky and unique. Let’s look at a quote. Louise asks the ghost, but he doesn’t say anything. Maybe he can’t remember what it was like to be alive. Maybe he’s forgotten the language. He just lies on the bedroom floor, flat on his back, legs open, looking up at her like she’s something special. Or maybe he’s thinking of England. That completely random reference to England completely threw me out of how immersed I was in this story. It doesn’t make sense in the context, and didn’t really make sense. Examples similar to this are scattered throughout, where a character says something so random that it completely tosses the reader out of the story. The Sadness of Detail: 5 Stars An amazing premise and plot made perfect by skillful writing. The author plays with your emotions while keeping things tense and even a little frightening. The ending is ominous and miraculous, and left me thinking about a fascinating concept introduced in the story. Leda: 4.5 Stars A creative and surprisingly deep “horror” story. It’s so weird that I’m not actually sure how to classify it, but it’s interesting while also exploring the tenuous relationship between a husband and wife. In Praise of Folly: 3.5 Stars A genuinely creepy and slightly quirky story. The story doesn’t have a unique premise, (I figured out where it was going pretty easily) but the suspense and feeling of discomfort that the author creates is masterful. Plot Twist: 4 Stars An unoriginal premise flipped upside down by, you guessed it, a truly shocking plot twist. The characters are entertaining and interesting, but the plot twist really takes this one to greatness. I read the ending twice in a row. The Two Sams: 1.5 Stars A heartbreaking concept that ultimately fails because of confusing writing. I managed to get through it, but I wasn’t actually aware of what was going on. The story seems to be skipping around chronologically, but I wasn’t sure, mostly because the skipping was constant and not clearly delineated by physical organization (ex. A new paragraph). Also, the author keep making references to things, and then failed to explain these weird references (giraffes were repeatedly mentioned in a context that didn’t make sense). Just skip this one. Unearthed: 4.5 stars. Sad, soft, and slow. The story artfully builds to a vicious hardball of an ending that hits you straight in the gut. Gardener of Heart: 2.5 stars. I read through the whole thing because I enjoyed the writing, but honestly, I didn’t know what was happening. I think some weird revelation happened at the end, but it flew right over my head. Little Red’s Tango: 0 stars. No idea what was happening here, I simply skipped it. The author tries to break this short story up into sections, which made it hard to stay focused on a jumpy, confusing narrative. The Ballad of the Flexible Bullet: 5 perfect stars. STEPHEN KING IS A MASTER. This story gripped me from the beginning, and is perfectly paced. King uses the characters telling the story to inject frequent suspenseful breaks, and shows the fragility of the modern human. Perfect, perfect, perfect. The Green Glass Sea: 3 stars. Not so much a horror story, but a simple, elegant reflection on the horrors of war. The author does a sly thing here (I don’t want to spoil anything), and it’s a unique look at a much discussed historical event. The Kiss: 0 stars. Confusing and annoying, I quit this one pretty quickly. Black Dust: 3 stars. The characters didn’t interest me, but I loved the feeling of nostalgia emanating from this short tale. It made me feel like I was reading a really good, creepy children’s story. October in the Chair: 3.5 stars. A weird story within a story. ‘October in the Chair’ carries a genuine feeling of discomfort. Missolonghi 1824: 1 star. I finished it, but I certainly didn’t carry for the characters or plot. This one is a limp and boring story. Insect Dreams: 0 stars. I almost got through this one, but I had to stop. The writing is vague, and confusing, and physically broken up into little paragraphs. I think the author was going for poetic beauty, but she completely failed. An overlong mess, and a horrible attempt at ‘contemporary’ fiction. Overall, this collection contained some great stuff, but it also contained some horrible duds. There’s a lot of ‘contemporary’ fiction that attempts to do something new by being vague and imprecise… this is horrible because it isn’t skillful or poetic. It’s easy to do, and the reader just leaves confused. This story collection is actually an excellent showcase of what an easy strategy ‘vague’ and ‘confusing’ is… any hack can do it.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Evans Light

    3.5 Stars. Some good stuff (Cleopatra Brimstone) and some artsy snoozers. Leans more towards "literary" horror.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Jessika

    In the introduction to this anthology, Peter Straub describes his goal in putting together these 24 contemporary horror stories. Basically, he wanted to prove that the horror genre is more than the scary monsters, blood, gore, and cheesy book covers that most people associate with it. He wanted to show that the horror genre is a legitimate literary genre and can be considered more "literary" than people have considered it before. This collection had nothing to do with putting together "scary" st In the introduction to this anthology, Peter Straub describes his goal in putting together these 24 contemporary horror stories. Basically, he wanted to prove that the horror genre is more than the scary monsters, blood, gore, and cheesy book covers that most people associate with it. He wanted to show that the horror genre is a legitimate literary genre and can be considered more "literary" than people have considered it before. This collection had nothing to do with putting together "scary" stories--in fact, many of the stories weren't scary at all, but that wasn't the point. I found that Straub did a phenomenal job at "making his point" with the stories that he selected. Granted, I didn't like all of the stories, but not because they were "bad" stories, but they just weren't my cup of tea. I probably would have given this collection three stars, if it weren't for the stories that I ended up loving if only because this collection is pretty long and seemed to drag in between the stories that I loved. I'm not going to do a review of each story, but my favorites were: --"The Bees" by Dan Chaon: This was the first story, and I don't know if it was just because I was reading this at night, but it freaked me out. I had a hard time falling asleep because it was so creepy. --"Louise's Ghost" by Kelly Link: I liked the idea of these two best friends and the story they share, and I think more than anything, I really enjoyed the author's voice. --"The Sadness of Detail" by Jonathan Carroll: I thought it was a beautiful idea for a story, and it was beautifully written, with superb attention to (SURPRISE!) detail. It reminded me of Stephen King's Insomnia, for whatever reason. --"Leda" by M. Rickert: I wasn't sure about this one to begin with, but I really liked the ending. --"Unearthed" by Benjamin Percy: I just thought this was was creepy with the dead Indian. I was so creeped out. --"Little Red's Tango" by Peter Straub: This was my first reading of anything of Straub's and I just really enjoyed it's flow and the implications behind the character of Little Red. --"The Ballad of the Flexible Bullet" by Stephen King: I've read this one before in Skeleton Crew, but it had been a while. I still loved it as much as before, which is a given, I guess, seeing as how much I adore SK. "Fornit Some Fornus!" --"20th Century Ghost" by Joe Hill: Well, the apple doesn't fall far from the tree, let me say that. I loved this story, mainly for Hill's voice. He's got a talent for pulling his readers in with an easy style. --"The Kiss" by Tia V. Travis: I LOVE LOVE LOVED this story. This was probably my favorite out of the whole thing. Travis wrote with such a lush, delicious style that I literally could not tear my eyes away from the pages. I want to go back and re-read this right now. I loved the twist, and I basically just loved the story. I still can't quit gushing about it. "That's why the lady is a tramp..." --"Black Dust" by Graham Joyce: As a coal miner's granddaughter/great-granddaughter, I appreciated this story. Just a good story overall. --"October in the Chair" by Neil Gaimain: This was also my first read of Gaiman's, and I have to say I'm intrigued. I liked his idea of all of the months sitting around a fire telling stories, and I like how each month's personality and appearance reflected what we generally think about each of the months. The story that October told was good, and I was left wondering what happened to the Runt/Donald. Overall, if you enjoy horror for more than monsters and "things that go bump in the night," I'd highly recommend this collection. In it are a wide variety of all kinds of horror, from the horror brought on by panic in "The Great God Pan" to the horror of the uncertainty of fate in "The Sadness of Detail" to the horror of losing your other half in "Gardener of Heart." This is a great collection well worth anyone's time.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Joe

    The cover of Poe's Children features creepy dolls, though none of the stories contained within feature creepy dolls. The illustration is a joke. As explained in the introduction, it's the sort of imagery most people expect from horror; but this collection is different! These stories don't conform to the horror storytelling standard. Here, a story fits in the horror genre if it meets any of the following criteria; something kinda creepy happens, the narrative is unclear, the cast includes a ghost (even i The cover of Poe's Children features creepy dolls, though none of the stories contained within feature creepy dolls. The illustration is a joke. As explained in the introduction, it's the sort of imagery most people expect from horror; but this collection is different! These stories don't conform to the horror storytelling standard. Here, a story fits in the horror genre if it meets any of the following criteria; something kinda creepy happens, the narrative is unclear, the cast includes a ghost (even if that ghost is mostly comical,) the editor felt like including it. The subtitle of Poe's Children reads 'The New Horror' and that appellation feels as false as the picture that surrounds it. As already noted, few of the stories inspire fear; no one in my book club admitted to many shivers, so 'Horror' seems misapplied. In addition, the stories weren't all that 'New' even when this collection came out seven years ago; one published as early as 1982. Even the 'The' doesn't fit; as other authors have penned horror stories in the past 30 years. To top it all off; the title barely works. None of the stories reference Poe and none emulated him from what I could tell (some feel Kafkaesque, including a tale where men metamorphose into butterflies.) Perhaps the title is meant literally, though I'd need to see some birth certificates. If I were to re-package this product for accuracy I'd title it; Some Short Stories, with the sub-heading 'Chosen At Random' and the cover picture would feature the editor shrugging his shoulders with a sheepish expression on his face. You can't judge a book by it's cover, but should be able to garner a clue or two. As for the stories themselves; some are funny, some are creepy, lots of them are opaque and many are dreadfully dull. My favorites were Eloise's Ghost (whimsical, hilarious) and Plot Twist (tight, clever, felt like a Twilight Zone episode.)

  6. 4 out of 5

    Lauder

    Horror is an absolutely amazing genre, so when I picked up Poe’s Children, edited by Peter Straub, I believe I held in my hands a source of horror that would terrify and thrill me. But this novel is nothing more than multiple dead trees filled with annoyance and arrogance. Yet somehow Straub believes a reader should be “fortunate” enough to read these authors that he has painstakingly thrown together. Personally, I do not believe Straub has created an astonishing anthology; these stor Horror is an absolutely amazing genre, so when I picked up Poe’s Children, edited by Peter Straub, I believe I held in my hands a source of horror that would terrify and thrill me. But this novel is nothing more than multiple dead trees filled with annoyance and arrogance. Yet somehow Straub believes a reader should be “fortunate” enough to read these authors that he has painstakingly thrown together. Personally, I do not believe Straub has created an astonishing anthology; these stories, instead, form a rubbish heap. Because Poe was the master of horror, I believe he would have produced far better offspring; these authors, while they tried, will never be Poe’s children. Granted, I have only read three stories from this rubbish heap, but that is as far as I can read before getting extremely frustrated with pointless plots. But the worst story, by far, is titled, “The Man on the Ceiling.” The authors of this atrocious monstrosity believe themselves to be the absolute best; they are entirely self-centered. For instance, they write, “I never believed horror fiction was simply about morbid fascinations. I find that attitude stupid and dull.” With this mindset, then, why would you write about a shadowy man on your ceiling that instills nightmares and scares you with his razorblade nails? Oh, I guess that isn’t a morbid fascination, huh? Idiot. And then another winning line was, “It always makes me cranky to be asked what a story is ‘about,’ or who my characters ‘are.’ If I could tell you, I wouldn’t have to write them.” Simmer down now, Melanie. I guess you have never written a synopsis or character sketch before. I honestly would have preferred if the authors had told me about their story and their insanely-stupid characters because if I had known how crappy it was, I wouldn’t have even bothered to read the story. End result? Don’t bother reading Poe’s Children. I believe other stories should have definitely been considered.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Eve Marie

    As several reviewers stated below, horror doesn't get nearly as much credit as it deserves; so, I encourage other horror enthusiasts to read whatever they can get their hands on. But if I had to compile an 'ultimate list' of recommendations, Poe's Children wouldn't be on it. I started reading Poe's Children in high school and still haven't finished. (It's been several years now.) The stories are painfully slow, and often, the endings were so anti-climactic and strange (and not in a good way) tha As several reviewers stated below, horror doesn't get nearly as much credit as it deserves; so, I encourage other horror enthusiasts to read whatever they can get their hands on. But if I had to compile an 'ultimate list' of recommendations, Poe's Children wouldn't be on it. I started reading Poe's Children in high school and still haven't finished. (It's been several years now.) The stories are painfully slow, and often, the endings were so anti-climactic and strange (and not in a good way) that I felt annoyed. Peter Ho Davies said that a short story "lives and dies by its ending." If you agree with that statement, then you will find many of these stories to be disappointing. Now, this anthology isn't all bad. Some of the stories are fantastic and even a little disturbing ("Cleopatra Brimstone," "The Man on the Ceiling," "Louise's Ghost"); others are laughable but intriguing (I still cry with laughter over the ending of "Unearthed"). And looking back on it, I never read the piece by Neil Gaiman, which may very well be incredible. I am of the belief that no story is a complete 'waste of time.' There's always something that you can take away from the story, something you can learn or appreciate. But overall, this collection isn't very impressive and fails to live up to its title.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Zach

    In which Peter Straub sets out to broaden the umbrella of “horror” beyond the stereotypical blood-and-guts sensationalism typically associated with it. He succeeds at this so well that I had a hard time figuring out exactly what made some of these stories fit into the genre at all. Dan Chaon - “The Bees” - A husband and father is haunted (literally or metaphorically?) by the first wife and child he abandoned during his drinking days. Impressively dark and downtrodden, although one wishes the tw/>Dan In which Peter Straub sets out to broaden the umbrella of “horror” beyond the stereotypical blood-and-guts sensationalism typically associated with it. He succeeds at this so well that I had a hard time figuring out exactly what made some of these stories fit into the genre at all. Dan Chaon - “The Bees” - A husband and father is haunted (literally or metaphorically?) by the first wife and child he abandoned during his drinking days. Impressively dark and downtrodden, although one wishes the two wives were sketched out a bit more actively. 3.5/5 Elizabeth Hand - “Cleopatra Brimstone” - The second time I’ve realized after starting a story that I had read it before in Redshift and promptly forgotten about it. This story follows a beautiful young entomologist who travels to England after surviving a sexual assault, at which point she proceeds to pick men up at bars and clubs and turn them into butterflies by having sex with them. I guess there’s something to be said here about a woman reasserting her sexual agency, but weird stories about transgressive sexuality are just not my thing. Also Hand devotes huge chunks of time to talking about raves and clubs. 1/5 Steve Rasnic Tem and Melanie Tem - “The Man on the Ceiling” - I enjoyed the conceit of this one - Melanie and Steve, a married couple, take turns metafictionally (?) relaying the effect that Melanie’s lifelong terror/hallucination of a ghostly presence has on their life together, but the story kind of fizzles out without doing much of anything with that conceit. 3/5 M. John Harrison - “The Great God Pan” - Decades ago, three college friends took part in some sort of magic ritual which has proceeded to ruin the rest of their lives, despite the fact that none of them can remember what actually happened that night. Like “The Bees,” this is a very dark story, and the reader is also swept into this sort of claustrophobic hopelessness where the characters find themselves as they suffer the consequences of this action that remains entirely obscured throughout. Harrison later expanded this story into the novel The Course of the Heart, which I wouldn’t mind reading. 4.5/5 Ramsey Campbell - “The Voice of the Beach” - My favorite story in here, and also the one most comfortably situated within the weird/horror tradition - highly reminiscent of “The Willows” and itself echoed later in China Mieville’s “Details.” A reclusive man living on the beach has a friend, recently recovered from a nervous breakdown, come and stay with him. They notice odd patterns and details about the beach, find an abandoned village (complete with a seemingly-incoherent fragmentary diary), the friend (and the narrator!) act increasingly oddly, and things unravel quite nicely. 5/5 Brian Evenson - “Body” - Having enjoyed what I’ve read of Evenson’s in the past, this was a big disappointment. A fragmentary and disjointed account of a man imprisoned and tortured by some monks, and then something about women and tearing shoes apart and... ? 1/5 Kelly Link - “Louise’s Ghost” - A story about two lifelong friends, who are both named Louise, no last names given, so the reader is left to differentiate whom is being discussed by their quirky actions. I would expect to hate this, and it did wear awfully thin, but by the end I couldn’t help enjoying this story a good deal nonetheless. One Louise has a daughter, while the other has a ghost. Things get sad. 3/5 Jonathan Carroll - “The Sadness of Detail” - An interesting setup - an angel recruits an artist to recreate images for an increasingly senile God - that ends right after revealing said setup. 2/5 M. Rickert - “Leda” - A modern retelling of the Greek myth of Leda and the swan, no more, no less. 2/5 Thomas Tessier - “In Praise of Folly” - An appreciator of architectural follies travels to a remote town in New York in order to photograph a garden done up generations ago as a mini-Italy by an eccentric industrialist. Up until the climax, nothing seems amiss (aside from a single reference when he arrives in the town), and this means the horrific element (which is well-done, such as it is), is entirely divorced from the narrative leading up to it (also well-done, such as it was). This was probably the author’s intent, but there could have at least been more of a thematic connection. 3/5 David J. Schow “Plot Twist” - Utter garbage. Three “friends” (a couple and a third wheel, although none of them like one another at all, probably because they are all horribly obnoxious assholes) are stranded in an impossibly-endless desert after their car breaks down on their way to Vegas, after which they spend their time marching and sniping at one another using strings of words that I am not going to dignify by calling “jokes.” The misogyny, which has been growing increasingly bothersome throughout the story, explodes into the foreground at the end. This is, ironically enough, a perfect example of the sort of gleefully gory and sophomorically “edgy” bullshit that this book is supposed to be counteracting. 0/5 Glen Hirshberg “The Two Sams” - As interesting and non-problematic as the story of a man haunted by his two miscarried children could possibly be, I guess. 2/5 Thomas Ligotti “Notes on the Writing of Horror: A Story” Starts off as a bit of metafictional, humorous “advice” on the different ways to approach writing this kind of story (using the example of man brought to a poor end by a haunted pair of pants). I enjoyed that part, but not so much the following part where the pseudonymous writer ends up haunting his counterpart or whatever it was that ended up happening. It lost my interest, clearly. 2/5 Benjamin Percy “Unearthed” - An unambiguously non-supernatural story about an archaeologist who deals with the loss of his wife by taking an unhealthy interest in excavating (robbing) Native American burial sites. Told from the point of view of his son, this was well-written and kind of compelling in its examination of the different directions their grief took, but... not horrific in any sense? 3/5 Bradford Morrow "Gardener of Heart” - A standard “shocking twist” ghost story written in some impressively overwrought prose. I’ll have to go back to the book to get some choice quotes to include here. ⅖ Peter Straub “Little Red’s Tango” - Another odd inclusion, this is a hagiography of Little Red, an eccentric with a magical collection of jazz records. Teasing out all of the references in that regard was a lot of fun, and this was a well-written story with some interesting variations in form, but aside from a very brief interlude with a vampire (?), not horrific at all. 4.5/5 Stephen King “The Ballad of a Flexible Bullet” - I have yet to read anything by King that I found particularly enjoyable or impressive. A washed-up editor relates to a small party the interminable story of his downfall: when he (a drunk) and a reclusive genius author (a madman) convinced one another that they had magical typewriter elves. 1/5 Joe Hill “20th Century Ghost” - A movie theatre is haunted, rather banally, by the ghost of a teenager who died while watching the Wizard of Oz. Better than his dad’s story, but not by much. 2/5 Ellen Klages “The Green Glass Sea” - An adopted child living at the Los Alamos facility during the Manhattan Project visits the aftermath of the first nuclear bomb test with her family, where they pick up newly-fused pieces of glass. Aside from the rather remote horror of knowing that they are exposing themselves to radiation, this is just a rather straightforward YA story that later became the last chapter of a YA historical fiction novel. Why is this here? 2/5 Tia V. Travis “The Kiss” - I’ve mostly avoided spoilers here but I’m throwing that to the wind with this one. Our protagonist is a grown woman visiting the grave of her mother, who was the active part of a murder/suicide with the protagonist’s father when the protagonist was a young girl. The father was a jazz drummer, and the mother was a starlet/exotic dancer, and we are reminded again and again of how beautiful and alluring the mother was, with or without clothes. To add to the melodrama, the mother was the woman on the side - literally, as she and the daughter lived next door to the father and his icy harridan of a wife. Said harridan refuses to grant the father a divorce despite his pleadings, and the community figures this is what eventually drove the mother to end both their lives. The daughter stumbles in moments after the fact and finds her father already dead and her mother giving up the ghost while kissing his wedding ring. The twist here is that decades later the daughter, having been raised by the widow to hate her “whore” of a mother, opens her mother’s grave, sees the wedding ring lodged in the skeleton’s throat, surmises that the engraved ring was swallowed in order to provide a clue that the crime was not in fact a murder/suicide but in fact a murder/murder perpetrated by the widow, and then... goes and kisses the ring into the widow’s mouth, fatally choking her. 1/5 Graham Joyce - “Black Dust” - An effectively downtrodden story about poverty and family life in a Welsh mining town. The child protagonist has a relatively happy family life, while his best friend has an abusive father, but the story does an excellent job of portraying him as a human being rather than a one-dimensional villain. The supernatural element of this story is slight, but it packs a punch. 5/5 Neil Gaiman - “October in the Chair” - Has a weird framing story where the months take turns telling each other stories, and I remember thinking that was a stupid disservice to the tale at the heart of this entry (told by October), only now I find that I cannot for the life of me remember what October’s story even was. Having reminded myself, I can say that it was actually the surprisingly fine story of a boy who runs away from home and makes friends with a ghost. 3.5/5 John Crowley - “Missolonghi 1824” - Loyd Byron recounts the story of the time he saved a satyr from an angry mob. Neither horrific nor compelling. 1/5 Rosalind Palermo Stevenson “Insect Dreams” - Another story about an expatriate entomologist, oddly enough - this time the real life Maria Sibylla Merian, a Dutch naturalist who went to the colony of Surinam in 1699 to study insects. She is recounting the story through the haze of malaria, which means it’s all rather fragmentary and verges on stream-of-consciousness at times, and is written in the present tense throughout. The horror manifests itself in the racism of the colonists, which climaxes in another rape scene, which, while at least not being fetishized, is rendered instead in such over-the-top violence that it becomes surreal. Enough already. 2/5

  9. 4 out of 5

    Badseedgirl

    Hey Kiddies! It's time again for one of Badseedgirl's famous open letters Dear Mr. Straub: Really this letter is for all horror writers, new and established. If you're ashamed of writing in the horror genre, well by all means just don't write in it. If you plan to make your money by writing horror fiction, please don't disparage this genre in your forward to a horror anthology. I am a college educated person who likes horror fiction. I like all the aspects of the genre, som Hey Kiddies! It's time again for one of Badseedgirl's famous open letters Dear Mr. Straub: Really this letter is for all horror writers, new and established. If you're ashamed of writing in the horror genre, well by all means just don't write in it. If you plan to make your money by writing horror fiction, please don't disparage this genre in your forward to a horror anthology. I am a college educated person who likes horror fiction. I like all the aspects of the genre, some more than others, but have enjoyed everything from "The Weird," to "Splatterpunk." All these books have merit and are appropriate for different times in my life. I know, Mr. Straub, that you were just trying to show the world that Horror has many shades, but to do it by stepping on the backs of other writers who you deem as lesser is no way to do it. You are just proving the point of people who disparage the genre, that it is somehow less than other genres. The stories in this anthology are just one subgenre of horror, Slipstream Horror, Goodread defines it as: Slipstream is a kind of fantastic or non-realistic fiction that crosses conventional genre boundaries between science fiction/fantasy or mainstream literary fiction. The term slipstream was coined by cyberpunk author Bruce Sterling in an article originally published in SF Eye #5, July 1989. He wrote: "...this is a kind of writing which simply makes you feel very strange; the way that living in the twentieth century makes you feel, if you are a person of a certain sensibility." Slipstream fiction has consequently been referred to as "the fiction of strangeness," which is as clear a definition as any others in wide use. Science fiction authors James Patrick Kelly and John Kessel, editors of Feeling Very Strange: The Slipstream Anthology, argue that cognitive dissonance is at the heart of slipstream, and that it is not so much a genre as a literary effect, like horror or comedy. Slipstream falls between speculative fiction and mainstream fiction. While some slipstream novels employ elements of science fiction or fantasy, not all do. The common unifying factor of these pieces of literature is some degree of the surreal, the not-entirely-real, or the markedly anti-real. So in conclusion Mr. Straub, please think about the words you write, as you know words have power, for both benefit and harm. Your heart was in the right place in trying to show the world all the glories (or is it gory's) of horror. But you went about it in a way that tries to hurt other aspects of the genre, and that is just not good. Sincerely, Badseedgirl PS. Like most anthologies, I enjoyed these stories to varying degrees. I finally read Joe Hill's "20th Century Ghost" the title story of his award winning collection that is still sitting on my TBR list. It made me want to finally get to this collection, so that is good. The stories get a 3.5 of 5 stars, but I'm only giving the anthology itself 2 stars.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Scott

    Great pieces by Don Chaon, Elizabeth Hand, the Tems, Thomas Ligotti, Joe Hill and Jonathan Carroll. Really awful stuff from Brian Evenson, Glen Hirshberg, Benjamin Percy and Straub himself. Everything else is just about average.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Maicie

    The new horror, huh? I must like old horror.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Issy

    This was not scary. Not even remotely. Poe's great-great-step-god-children.

  13. 5 out of 5

    John Wiswell

    This is advertised as a Horror anthology, but it is not. It is not even a Literary Horror anthology. It is an anthology for the kinds of short fiction that don’t fit in traditional Horror, Gothic, Fantasy or Science Fiction, with an emphasis on literary expression over storytelling. Only the most impressionable readers will be scared of any of the shorts contained within. Instead, corpses, ghosts and madmen are refurbished to fiction that speculates on the nature of life, creativity, angst, chil This is advertised as a Horror anthology, but it is not. It is not even a Literary Horror anthology. It is an anthology for the kinds of short fiction that don’t fit in traditional Horror, Gothic, Fantasy or Science Fiction, with an emphasis on literary expression over storytelling. Only the most impressionable readers will be scared of any of the shorts contained within. Instead, corpses, ghosts and madmen are refurbished to fiction that speculates on the nature of life, creativity, angst, childhood, sexuality and other themes that often result in things closer resembling collages of events than short stories. With Stephen King, Neil Gaiman and Peter Straub contributing, the Horror fan knows he’ll be in good hands at least some of the time. The book takes off well with Peter Straub’s introduction questioning critics that pigeonhole Horror and Fantasy as garbage, and further questioning the nature of Horror and Fantasy stories. The first story, Dan Chaon’s “The Bees,” sets the tone as it meanders through the shattered life of a father whose son was sticken by inexplicable night terrors. Chaon nails tone and gives you just enough hints of intrigue in the early narrative to pull together a great story. As someone who picked this up to brush up on short fiction, I was struck with the feeling that I’m not nearly this good. But Elizabeth Hand’s “Cleopatra Brimstone” comes next and brings the collection down from Chaon’s high. This story has no sense of direction, letting its voice and stabs at meaningful literary moments take over for dozens of pages. It is not even tense; even its handling of a rape it clipped and emotionally detached. This devolves into watching her development with the typical fascination on sex, with the desire to swap domination and submission roles being a thimble-full of motive in a bathtub of words. I don’t think I’ve ever read a good story that contained the phrase “his cock already hard.” This story is an example of Literary fiction that sacrifices plot for indulgence – exactly where all of the “Genre” genres ought not to go. Horror readers curious about Literary reading ought to try Benjamin Percy’s “Unearthed.” It opens with a family finding a corpse on an illegal archeology dig. Typical Horror suggests we’ve got a ghost, zombie or some kind of haunting coming out after this, but the actual story is more preoccupied with the son’s desire for his dead mother and the father’s desire to get out of the stuffy house. There are a few urgent moments, but it’s mostly reflective fiction about their lives and hardships. Sound familiar? Well it should. Not to be too blunt, but life sucking and us doing nothing about it was the biggest cliché of Literature in the 20th century, and it was inevitable that Horror would shamble up and imitate it eventually. “Unearthed” ultimately fails to deliver a plot in favor of indulging characters that are worth examining, and examines them for a little while without delivering much from the exhumed body. It’s a good piece about this boy and worth reading. But can you stand an entire collection of fiction that is mostly preoccupied with something other than delivering actual narrative or being particularly creative with its unrealistic conceits? The collection bounces between trash writing that is too overwrought and pretentious, and solid storytelling grappling with meaning. One reviewer on Amazon said he thought many readers would have trouble with the changes in tone from story to story, but I actually had the opposite problem. Many sound too alike or are preoccupied with things that are too similar and are not essential to a good Horror story, leaving multiple points when you’ll read two stories, pause in the second and wonder if you hadn’t just read this sort of thing. This isn’t an album where two similar songs compliment each other; three straight stories about weird stuff involving kids just reminds you of the cliché. These basic similarities aggravate the Literary issues of the collection, as too many stories have too many paragraphs devoted to tangential observations, sad or melancholy tones, characters overcome by their situations in passivity instead of struggle, and other associated bullplop that runs rampant in regular Literary writing. You’ll be much better-served by reading whatever pieces you feel like at will rather than following the anthology as it was laid out, trying to find the pieces that balance the urges to entertain and perform art. And there are good ones in here. Kelly Link’s “Louise’s Ghost” is about two women named Louise. One of them is haunted, but the ghost is pathetic and more of a curious attraction for her than a cause for fear. We follow her trying to handle this paranormal event as the narrative questions her identity (so many sentences begin with “Louise” that we are left uncertain which woman is acting), and watch her talk to her senile mother and the other Louise’s fantasy-obsessed daughter. One is all imagination and the other is losing her mind, but in these conversations we see how our reality isn’t much more or less absurd than theirs. And beyond exploring the ghost’s origins and role and all the harsh relationships, it manages to be innocent and downright hilarious in bits. It’s quirky beyond reckoning. I have no idea what Genre you’d pigeonhole this in. The very short “The Sadness of Detail” by Jonathan Caroll is downright hopeful, almost in spite of other stories about characters overcome by everything, and grabs at a secondary nature of art found through quixotic paintings. Neil Gaiman nails voice with a quirky tribute to ghost stories and G.K. Chesterton in “October in the Chair,” about a collection of storytellers named for months. While Straub may have chosen some bad eggs, his own “Little Red” story, about man related to a dozen miracles that you might not even call miracles, bucks genre classification and gives life to a character and story that just couldn’t be told any other way. Unsurprisingly, the strongest piece of Literary Horror in the collection is by the guy with the most experience: Stephen King. It’s almost unfair, as he’s written more than ten times the prose of just about anyone else in here, giving him the odds-on edge of writing something good, and giving him the most stuff to choose from. The collection chooses probably the best for itself, though, in his “The Ballad of the Flexible Bullet,” one of the finest novellas I’ve ever read. It follows the correspondence between a bright new author and a struggling alcoholic editor as their careers cross. One descends into an all-too-authentic sort of madness, and the other descends into the bottle. It manages to tell a long story, has a distinct voices and effortlessly switches between observation on aspects of life and observation on story progression. It’s not the only metafiction in the anthology (it directly questions the origin of creativity and the business of marketing art, managing to trump even Thomas Ligotti’s very explicit metafiction “Notes on the Writing of Horror: A Story”), but with King’s sense of voice, tricks of switching between the narrator telling it alone and discussing it with his audience, and a terribly detailed vision of the author’s worldview, nothing in the collection achieves as much. There is a lot to think about in here for people looking at Horror and its related genres for more than thrills. Maybe some of it will make you think you could do better. Hopefully some of it will make some young writers think they can do more than they’re already doing. But especially since a collection like this was shepherded by someone as important to the field as Straub, it leaves you knowing many more experiments can fit in even vaguely supernatural fiction than you thought.

  14. 4 out of 5

    A. E. S.

    Dan Chaon - "The Bees": Bad deeds catch up to a man on the run from his dismal past. Alcohol - the cause of, and the solution to, all of life's problems. In the end, you only feel sorry for the main character. 3/5 because of this. Elizabeth Hand - "Cleopatra Brimstone": I can't sympathize with the main character at all - she's COMPLETELY self-absorbed. What made me mad was her deadpan reaction to being raped; I really feel that if that scene were done better, the ending would have mad Dan Chaon - "The Bees": Bad deeds catch up to a man on the run from his dismal past. Alcohol - the cause of, and the solution to, all of life's problems. In the end, you only feel sorry for the main character. 3/5 because of this. Elizabeth Hand - "Cleopatra Brimstone": I can't sympathize with the main character at all - she's COMPLETELY self-absorbed. What made me mad was her deadpan reaction to being raped; I really feel that if that scene were done better, the ending would have made more sense. Kafka anyone? 2/5 Steve Rasnic Tem and Melanie Tem - "The Man on the Ceiling": This was so vague I had to read another review in order to remember what it was about. A man and his wife are plagued by a ghost, which may or may not be a result of the wife's mental disorder? 1/5 M. John Harrison - "The Great God Pan": Quite possibly the worst story in this collection, if I could rate this zero, I would. This is so vague, intentionally or not, I didn't know what the characters' problem was, only that it happened sometime in college. Also, it had the same theme as above: one or all three of them might be mental. 1/5 Ramsey Campbell - "The Voice of the Beach": The only story in this collection that came near Lovecraftian, I did enjoy its flavor, but only in that respect. Otherwise it was pretty boring. Specifically, no reason is displayed for why this is happening and no solution is given to stop it. "Evil beach is evil". 2/5 Brian Evenson - "Body": This was so confusing and vague, I hardly remember it at all. Something about being tortured by monks, followed by incredibly vague images of women and shoes? 1/5 Kelly Link - "Louise's Ghost": I really hated this story. The worst part about it was one of the Louises' little girl, who wants everything green and thinks she was a dog in a past life. No last names, so you have no idea who is speaking and which person it is has the floor of the story line. The ending was sad. 1/5 Jonathan Carroll - "The Sadness of Detail": One of my favorites in this collection. However, the phrase "fresh pack of cigarettes" pissed me off, so I'm cutting down one point. This is a great setup and could expand into a full-length novel with the plot, but it ends as soon as it gets interesting. A woman is recruited to draw pictures of events that come true because God has Alzheimer's, and it's getting worse. 2/5 M. Rickert - "Leda": Yep. The Greek myth is retold in a modern setting, except in this version for some reason Leda is raped. In the myth, I'm pretty sure Leda and Zeus!swan had consensual sex, and there were four children in the egg, not two. 2/5 Thomas Tessier - "In Praise of Folly": This misses the Lovecraftian point of having the plot drive the cinematic conclusion. I had no idea what the point of my reading this was until I hit the horrific ending. A lot of exposition on the eccentric millionaire who built the possessed statues is basically pointless. 2/5 David J. Schow - "Plot Twist": The ending was a plot twist? Three young people with very upsetting attitudes and snarky remarks at each other are "friends", though they treat the third character with extreme disdain. Twist! The third character gets revenge! 1/5 Glen Hirshberg - "The Two Sams": This is a washed-out ghost story that's just really sad. Did not understand the point of my reading this. 1/5 Thomas Ligotti - "Notes on the Writing of Horror: A Story": This is like reading two stories, neither of which make any sense. Schizophrenic plot, the first story-within-a-story is about a haunted pair of pants. Was that supposed to be humorous? The second actual story has some weird demonic transformation of the writer, who haunts his counterpart? 1/5 Benjamin Percy - "Unearthed": This is one of the most mean, disgusting stories I have ever read. Total irreverence for the sacred pairs with a horrific ending that's not scary, it's just upsetting. An archaeological dig causes a man to bring a Native American mummy into the house. It's not what you think. 1/5 Bradford Morrow - "Gardener of Heart": This is a story about twins. One leaves for a job in the city, the other stays home and dies. As the reader continues, he discovers their childhoods together were borderline horrific, which makes me feel as if the twin who died and the twin grieving deserve all they get. I can't sympathize with the main character because of this. 1/5 Peter Straub - "Little Red's Tango": Although well-written, this was a lot of exposition and description of one record-hoarder's apartment in a big city. Strange, incongruous meeting with a vampire and a mouse possessed by a ghost. The main character gives the reader a list of advice that's unfair, bad or cliche at best near the end (advice: clean your house). Where is my plot? 2/5 Stephen King - "The Ballad of the Flexible Bullet": DNR, see Skeleton Crew review. Joe Hill - "20th Century Ghost": DNR, see 20th Century Ghosts review. Ellen Klages - "The Green Glass Sea": A family of people pick up green glass after an atomic bomb test, half oblivious to its radioactive heat and half not. That's pretty frightening, but it never quite makes it to that point. I wonder why this story is in this collection? 2/5 Tia V. Travis - "The Kiss": One of my rare favorites from this collection, this is an heir to bete-noir and pulp murder mysteries rather than Poe. Told from the perspective of a mistress' daughter, an ex-starlet/nightclub dancer and her jazz drummer husband are found dead. The setup is strange, the resolve is weird and unrealistic. I liked the imagery and the characters. Again, incongruous to this collection? 3/5 Graham Joyce - "Black Dust": This is more sweet, with a happy ending, of simple poverty-stricken life in Wales. Miners get stuck when a roof collapses; one kid's abusive father must be rescued. Kind of confused as to why this is here, though there is some kind of supernatural element to it. 2/5 Neil Gaiman - "October in the Chair": If a person is really thinking hard, the plot device of the months telling each other stories isn't stupid, but for most of the simple it would be. The story-within-a-story does actually have a great setup, but I'm REALLY annoyed it simply cut off without any closure. I was expecting a lot better since this is my first time reading any Neil Gaiman and he's endlessly been recommended to me by friends. 3/5 John Crowley - "Missolonghi 1824": A strange beginning in which Byron realizes his love for a boy is unrequited. He then covers his error by entertaining him with a story in which he saves a mythical satyr from an angry mob, returning to the reason no one loves Byron any longer. Not very interesting to me. 1/5 Rosalind Palermo Stevenson - "Insect Dreams": An entomologist recounts her story of her expedition in 1700 while sick with malaria (although when she gets sick is beyond me given how strange, clipped and disjointed this account is). A lot of wildlife, slaves, trading, a mythical monster that may or may not be real, a rape scene that probably is real, a scene of true love and the follow-up love letter. This was just over-the-top for the entire gamut and left me exhausted and confused. 2/5

  15. 4 out of 5

    Scott Fletcher

    Really, really good. Obviously this is a short story anthology collecting works from different authors so you're going to love some, hate some, and be really confused by some; but, overall, I'd say that this was a very decent read and the stories I loved made up for those I didn't and for those that made me wonder what the heck the author was thinking when they wrote it. Before I go into which stories I like the best, I will have to say that I was really surprised many of them were collected in Really, really good. Obviously this is a short story anthology collecting works from different authors so you're going to love some, hate some, and be really confused by some; but, overall, I'd say that this was a very decent read and the stories I loved made up for those I didn't and for those that made me wonder what the heck the author was thinking when they wrote it. Before I go into which stories I like the best, I will have to say that I was really surprised many of them were collected in a 'horror' anthology; many of them read like plain old fiction with a slight fantastical and/or supernatural twist. I'd say my favourites were Dan Chaon's "The Bees", the Tems' "The Man on the Ceiling", Kelly Link's "Louise's Ghost", Jonathan Carroll's "The Sadness of Detail", Glen Hirshberg's "The Two Sams", Benjamin Percy's "Unearthed", Stephen King's "Flexible Bullet", Joe Hill's "20th Century Ghost", Graham Joyce's "Black Dust", and Neil Gaiman's "October in the Chair". There were only about 3 stories I'd never go back and read again, otherwise all (even the ones I didn't list as favourites) were very well done and deserve a re-read down the road. I'm definitely going to look into the authors' other works.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Pamster

    Several stories I'd already read in the authors' collections. The Kelly Link and Shelley Jackson stories were two of these, but rereading them in this other context was AWESOME. "The Man on the Ceiling," written by a married couple ( . . . ) was the basis of a novel of the same name that got a lot of praise. I tried to read a few years ago, specifically looking to see what was up with currently acclaimed and cutting edge horror, and I just could not finish it and the story made me mad about it a Several stories I'd already read in the authors' collections. The Kelly Link and Shelley Jackson stories were two of these, but rereading them in this other context was AWESOME. "The Man on the Ceiling," written by a married couple ( . . . ) was the basis of a novel of the same name that got a lot of praise. I tried to read a few years ago, specifically looking to see what was up with currently acclaimed and cutting edge horror, and I just could not finish it and the story made me mad about it all over again. But most of these stories were really good. "The Kiss" had the sexiest mom ever in it. And I actually read a Stephen King story, which I'd never normally do on purpose. Mostly because of that back-of-Entertainment Weekly column that is so maddening. But I liked finding out that Annie hated/hates that column too! Always thought she'd be the type to love sittin' on Uncle Stevie's knee, looking straight into the eye of his nostril, and listenin' to what is what.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Chris

    Wondering if any of my friends on Goodreads has read this. It has some pretty bad reviews on Amazon! Anyone?????????? Well....I just finished reading this collection. I enjoyed most of the stories in the book. Personally, I was disappointed by the S. King and J. Hill stories, since I'd read both of them previously in other books. I would recommend it to anyone who, like myself, likes the freedom of reading short stories. When you HAVE to put your book down for a while, it doesn't matter, be Wondering if any of my friends on Goodreads has read this. It has some pretty bad reviews on Amazon! Anyone?????????? Well....I just finished reading this collection. I enjoyed most of the stories in the book. Personally, I was disappointed by the S. King and J. Hill stories, since I'd read both of them previously in other books. I would recommend it to anyone who, like myself, likes the freedom of reading short stories. When you HAVE to put your book down for a while, it doesn't matter, because each story is like a brand new book! I'm glad I read it.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Angel Hench

    I tend to read anthologies and short story collections to find new authors in my favorite genres. And, so now, Jonathan Caroll (The Sadness of Detail) and Glen Hirshberg (The Two Sams) are living on my TBR list. Stephen King (The Ballad of the Flexible Bullet) and Joe Hill (21st Century Ghost) make appearances as well as a number of other very talented authors in the field of Horror writing. There were only two stories I could not finish and one that I really, really hated. Not bad out of a coll I tend to read anthologies and short story collections to find new authors in my favorite genres. And, so now, Jonathan Caroll (The Sadness of Detail) and Glen Hirshberg (The Two Sams) are living on my TBR list. Stephen King (The Ballad of the Flexible Bullet) and Joe Hill (21st Century Ghost) make appearances as well as a number of other very talented authors in the field of Horror writing. There were only two stories I could not finish and one that I really, really hated. Not bad out of a collection of 25 or so stories. Definitely worth the time and money.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Christie Skipper Ritchotte

    Though only 1/3 of the way through this anthology, I'm a little surprised at the midrange ratings. "The Man on the Ceiling" by Steve Rasnic Tem and Melanie Tem justifies the purchase price all by itself. There're some real jewels so far, and I haven't even hit the halfway mark (although I have to admit to skipping ahead for a couple irresistible stories). Joy!

  20. 5 out of 5

    Jessica

    I have really been striking out lately. This book was so-so at best. I normally like anything weird, creepy and out there, but most of these stories were pointless. I would recommend reading the following four and skipping the rest: -Ballad of the Flexible Bullet -The Sadness of Detail -Black Dust -October in the Chair

  21. 5 out of 5

    Nate

    This was a really uneven collection with some not quite new entries as well. Kinda weird, and not what I would have expected. I'd give this one a pass unless you're desperate for something spookable and this is the only option around.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Mark

    Fantastic collection of stories. I particularly liked the modern rendering of the Lido and the Swan myth.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Alex

    I’m glad I borrowed this from the library and only spent time suffering through this collection. There are individual selections in this that are worth the time. However, go read them in the authors’ collections as it will yield a significantly better experience. Here’s three collections you should read instead of this one: “Cold Print” by Ramsey Campbell “20th Century Ghosts” by Joe Hill “Songs of a Dead Dreamer” by Thomas Ligotti Going through my notes I really I’m glad I borrowed this from the library and only spent time suffering through this collection. There are individual selections in this that are worth the time. However, go read them in the authors’ collections as it will yield a significantly better experience. Here’s three collections you should read instead of this one: “Cold Print” by Ramsey Campbell “20th Century Ghosts” by Joe Hill “Songs of a Dead Dreamer” by Thomas Ligotti Going through my notes I really enjoyed six stories from this collection. Gaiman’s “October in the Chair” was whimsical and gothic. “Leda” is seriously messed up, but also an interesting take on Grecian classic mythology and rape survival. “In Praise of Folly” is almost great and a reasonable sequel to things like “The Lurking Fear.” There was a fair amount that I was ambivalent about, and more than a fair share of stories that deserve outright loathing. The more time I spend with Straub, the less I like him. As an author, I hate his use of hard second person. As an anthologist, he fails to deliver. The coveted first story slot failed to blow me away. The second story (Cleopatra Brimstone) was a novella length rape fantasy. An intensely weird rape fantasy but still at its core a rape fantasy. Girls just need to be raped enough to burst out of their cocoon and become a butterfly. Maybe I'm looking at it wrong, and it's just the bodice ripper-horror mashup that has been missing from the genre. The inclusion of a story called “The Great God Pan” confused me. No, it’s not the Machen story. That would actually make sense tonally, but wouldn’t match the “new” part of the subtitle. But authors, if you want to write a horror story, don't give it the exact same name as a Machen story. And if you insist on doing so, make sure it is at least as good, or better. Bonus points for making it circular and referential. This applies to editors selecting stories for an anthology as well. The other story known as "The Great God Pan" fails all of these. More often than not, I found myself skipping stories after they failed to engage me. I try really hard to give everything a chance, but a preponderance of this book was not worth the effort.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Christian Hamaker

    It took a few tries to get through this audiobook. Like others have said, the collection is all over the map, and it wears you down too soon despite being narrated by a who's who of great audiobook voices. So why did I keep coming back to "Poe's Children" until I'd pushed my way through it? Because Peter Straub's introduction is so compelling - better, maybe, than even the best stories in this collection (and there are some very good ones, notably Dan Chaon's "The Bees" and "20th Cent It took a few tries to get through this audiobook. Like others have said, the collection is all over the map, and it wears you down too soon despite being narrated by a who's who of great audiobook voices. So why did I keep coming back to "Poe's Children" until I'd pushed my way through it? Because Peter Straub's introduction is so compelling - better, maybe, than even the best stories in this collection (and there are some very good ones, notably Dan Chaon's "The Bees" and "20th Century Ghost" by Joe Hill) - that I kept returning to the book, pushing further with each attempt, hoping to find something that matched the caliber of Straub's introduction. I don't think I ever found it, but a few of these stories came close. Given the length of this volume, that's not enough for a strong recommendation. But I do think genre fans should dip into it and find whatever's to their liking.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Nikka Calindas

    I have to admit, the one thing that led me to buy this book was the awesome cover. What can I say? Color me noir, I guess. But as I go through the short stories, they had somehow come up short from what I truly expect from the horror stories that were spawn by the master of suspense, Edgar Allan Poe. This collection of short stories feels more like an insult to the great man's memory rather than a salute to his genius. Nevertheless, there are still great stories embedded in this colle I have to admit, the one thing that led me to buy this book was the awesome cover. What can I say? Color me noir, I guess. But as I go through the short stories, they had somehow come up short from what I truly expect from the horror stories that were spawn by the master of suspense, Edgar Allan Poe. This collection of short stories feels more like an insult to the great man's memory rather than a salute to his genius. Nevertheless, there are still great stories embedded in this collection though these are very rare, which is sort of depressing when you think about how much pages were wasted for those stories that this collection can certainly live without. I just hope that if there is a second volume for this collection, editor Peter Straub would do better - or at least pick better stories to include.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Raelynn

    Placing Poe's name on this collection of stories is almost sacrilege. I don't know why I put myself through them all. The only reason this managed to get 2 stars was for Neil Gaiman's "October in the Chair" (I really wished it were longer ...like entire novel longer). Honorable mentions are The Bees, The Man on the Ceiling, and The Voice of the Beach (tolerable). A couple stories such as "The Sadness of Detail" and "20th Century Ghost" had promise, but failed to deliver a whole package. 5 stars Placing Poe's name on this collection of stories is almost sacrilege. I don't know why I put myself through them all. The only reason this managed to get 2 stars was for Neil Gaiman's "October in the Chair" (I really wished it were longer ...like entire novel longer). Honorable mentions are The Bees, The Man on the Ceiling, and The Voice of the Beach (tolerable). A couple stories such as "The Sadness of Detail" and "20th Century Ghost" had promise, but failed to deliver a whole package. 5 stars for the cover art though.

  27. 5 out of 5

    RB

    A pretty solid collection of Poe inspired tales from horror authors from Straub to Ligotii to Kelly Link to Stephen King. Not the most ideal collection of names but my name's not Peter so what can I do ...

  28. 4 out of 5

    Rachel d.

    A couple of authors from this anthology were worth checking in too, but overall not that impressive...

  29. 5 out of 5

    Gordon Burroughs

    The editor clearly has a different definition of horror in mind when he collected these stories. Some of them were well written and engaging, while others were a hot mess.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Mike MacDee

    One of the absolutely worst collections of the most boring and pretentious garbage I've ever had the displeasure of reading. I actively sought out this book on Goodreads just to give it a scathing review and put my hatred to rest. There was one story in this whole collection that I found memorable -- not good, but memorable -- and I don't even remember the title. For all I know, it might not have even been a part of this anthology, because it actually had some tiny semblance of horror One of the absolutely worst collections of the most boring and pretentious garbage I've ever had the displeasure of reading. I actively sought out this book on Goodreads just to give it a scathing review and put my hatred to rest. There was one story in this whole collection that I found memorable -- not good, but memorable -- and I don't even remember the title. For all I know, it might not have even been a part of this anthology, because it actually had some tiny semblance of horror and story to it. It was about three people trapped on an endlessly looping desert highway, which I'm sure was supposed to be a metaphor for the meaningless rut they are all currently in. I probably remember this story the most because it presented a metaphor for how I felt while reading this awful collection. This isn't a horror anthology. This is hipster trash. It's un-scary, self-important, and pointless. Stay far, far away if you value your time and your stress levels.

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.