A Book Of Horrors

Hardcover:400 pages

Publisher:Jo Fletcher Books

Language:English

ISBN-10:0857388088

ISBN-13: 978-0857388087

I’ll admit that I’m not a lover of anthologies. I own several, including Robert Aickman‘s Cold Hand in Mine and Ramsey Campbell‘s Superhorror. I’ve had those some years and still haven’t read all the stories in them. I always prefer to read a novel by a writer I like or have just discovered. A Book of Horrors is, I must say, a hefty slab in hardback and has a splendidly creepy cover, but I have been skirting around it for longer than I should. Not for the first time in my life, I’ve been a fool.

This collection of short stories, edited by Stephen James and published by Jo Fletcher Books http://www.jofletcherbooks.com/ assembles original works from no fewer than fourteen accomplished horrorists. The list includes Stephen King, Ramsey Campbell, Peter Crowther, Robert Shearman and John Ajvide Linqvist.

Now, it’s no secret chez moi that I’m a Lindqvist fan. I have loved everything he’s ever written. So it was his contribution that I went to first. The Music of Bengt Karlsson, Murderer is a splendidly chilling tale, and one of which Lindqvist himself says “It might be the one story I have written that has scared me the most……I wrote on in a state of mild but constant horror…It was a relief when it was over.”

For me, quite unashamedly, A Book of Horrors is well worth having just for the Lindqvist contribution, but I’d be doubly foolish to overlook all of the others that sit so well with it between these superbly crafted covers. To have so many of the best horror writers of our day to dip in and out of makes for a must-have book.

The big surprise is the introduction from editor Stephen Jones, to my mind, a work of genius in itself. To quote from it:

“What the Hell happened to the horror genre?…These days our bloodsuckers are more likely to show their romantic nature, werewolves work for government organisations, phantoms are private investigators and the walking dead can be found sipping tea amongst the polite society of a Jane Austen novel…..Today we are living in a world that is ‘horror-lite’…This appalling appellation was coined by publishers to describe the type of fiction that is currently enjoying massive success under such genres as ‘paranormal romance’, ‘urban fantasy’, ‘literary mash-up’ or even ‘steampunk’…these books are not aimed at readers of traditional horror stories.”

Thank heavens – or maybe Hell – that someone knows what we really want.

A Book of Horrors. 5 stars from me. Buy it – if only for the introduction!

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