This never happens: I buy an anthology because of a short story that is on a preliminary awards list and that story disappears from the final list of nominees and I still love the anthology and am glad I bought it. But that’s exactly what happened with Nightscript II: An Anthology of Strange and Darksome Tales, edited by C.M. Muller.
I took a chance on it because “Reasons I Hate my Big Sister” by Gwendolyn Kiste was on the long list for the Bram Stoker Awards for Superior Achievement in Short Fiction. The story is quite good but somehow got eliminated from the final list of nominees. For weeks the anthology was my bedtime reading, and I hopped and skipped all over it, appreciating every single story for the quality of the writing even if the theme or resolution didn’t totally grab me.
- “The Carnival Arrives in Darkness” by Michael Griffin–very unique approach to the subject matter. More sweet than weird.
- “The Inveterate Establishment of Daddano & Co.” by Eric J. Guignard–interesting narrator with a great voice.
- “Nearness” by Ralph Robert Moore–the most intimately horrifying story in the whole anthology.
- “No Abiding Place on Earth” by Matthew M. Bartlett–most frightening creatures and great description.
- “Pause for Laughter” by José Cruz–truly an existential tale of a future. Touching in a weird way, which is hard to fathom, considering it’s told by a machete-wielding clown.
This is an anthology you should not ignore. I liked it so much I’m going to ask Muller if he’ll do a little Q&A here. And I’m going to get Nightscript I soon. Nightscript III will be out in October.
Read more in spanish here: Continue reading
John Langan’s dark, despairing world in The Fisherman is full of ugly things you don’t want to find on the end of your fishing line. It’s weird fiction that stretches toward the literary with its rich descriptions, psychological underpinnings and complex narrative structure, but horror is its terrible (and fascinating) heart. It will keep you turning pages far longer than you planned.
The story is set in the dark mountains of the Catskills, and whenever I hear that word I think of Rip Van Winkle and the strange men he found in there, so my mind was already primed for weird things to happen in places where old Dutch place names are still thick. Langan certainly plays with these associations, but our protagonist Abe doesn’t go into these wild places to sleep. He goes to fish.
Abe lives in a small town and works for IBM. Because of his grief for his dead wife he is barely functioning and continues to sleep through his life until he takes up fishing. Catching fish and venturing into streams in the mountains seems to provide him the comfort he needs to try to pull it together. He casts his grief into the water like he casts his line–with patience and with curiosity to see what might take the bait. Be careful what you wish for! The adventure that ensues, eventually, forces Abe to wake up and shake off his grief or pay the steepest price. Continue reading
This is the third review of the nominees for the World Fantasy Award for best short fiction in 2015. Winners will be announced in October. Other reviews are here and here. The Spanish translation following this post is by Daniela Toulemonde.
“The Deepwater Bride,” by Tamsyn Muir, has found lots of fans this year. It’s been nominated for the Shirley Jackson Award, the Nebula, and a Eugie Foster Memorial Award for Short Fiction as well as the World Fantasy Award (and who knows what else I’m missing).
“Bride” is a delightful piece of weird fiction–thoroughly infected with the Lovecraftian mythos yet confounding it at the same time. (You can read Muir’s comments on how this came about at the Fantasy & Science Fiction website.)
In a familiar, yet not-quite-normal small town, we are introduced to Hester Blake, a lonely teenager who has inherited the gift of prophecy. It’s part of her birthright in a family that has chronicled the ebb and flow of appearances by “the many-limbed horror who lies beneath the waves” for generations. She lives with an aunt at the edge of town and the edge of society, never quite fitting in with other people, who are slated for destruction, and resigned to the fate of not lasting very long themselves.
Be warned–spoilers ahead. Continue reading
I had a childhood friend who suffered several unlikely calamities, and for several years it seemed as if fate was just waiting for her to drop her guard. Although I’m happy to report that she did survive her childhood and survives to this day, I still worry about her occasionally. So, with this sense of familiarity, I picked up Pretty Little Dead Girls: A Novel of Murder and Whimsy by Mercedes M. Yardley. Outmaneuvering impending doom is the heart of the novel. Yardley’s perfectly clear opening sentences had me hooked.
“Bryony Adams was the type of girl who got murdered. This was always so, and it was apparent from the way that men looked at her as she adjusted her knee socks to the way that women shook their heads in pity when she rode by on her bicycle.”
There’s no doubt about where this story intends to go. Every aspect of the novel moves forward quickly and, almost as soon as the reader understands the problem, Yardley gives us the answer to this dilemma, which is a chorus of characters urging Bryony to run. She must run as fast as she can ahead of fate. It might not work out. It will catch up to her at some point. But, hey, valar morghulis! And while you’re running, Bryony, remember to love fully and truly. There’s no time for games or pouting. Continue reading