Last month I went on a mission. With an extra twenty-dollar bill in my wallet, I went into my local bookstore and found Creatures: Thirty Years of Monsters in the wild, waiting for me to casually reach out so it could sink its teeth into me. Trust me, I was bitten. Edited by Paul Tremblay and John Langan, this very affordable treasure trove hits all the masters, and includes some fresh blood definitely worth taking a gander at. These twenty-six tales will chill you to the bone. I really wanted to get this review out before Halloween, but I had a couple of deadlines to make, and that work thing that always gets in the way, but you don’t need Halloween to read these stories. I really liked how the stories were grouped together, starting with some familiar faces that felt like a Famous Monsters of Filmland reunion. Here’s some highlights:
“Godzilla’s Twelve-Step Program,” Joe R. Lansdale. The master of the macabre truly shows off his writing prowess here, and it’s funny as Hell too.
“The Creature from the Black Lagoon,” Jim Shepard. I LOVE it when someone takes a classic film and gives us another perspective. Well Done.
“After Moreau,” Jeffrey Ford. Again, another perspective that really surprised.
“Under Cover of Night,” Christopher Golden. Golden is the master of getting into his character’s heads and never letting us up for air.
“Underneath Me, Steady Air,” Carrie Laben. Once you realize who the main star is, you’re so taken by her gifted prose that you can easily forgive her for mining the ole’ Public Domain for this inspiration.
“Rawhead Rex,” Clive Barker. A classic, and not for the faint of heart.
“Wishbones,” Cherie Priest. The Steampunk Queen shows us that she really can deliver the scares.
“Not from Around Here,” David J. Schow. Confession. I bought the book to have this one story. Sorry, I’m just being honest here. The King of Splatterpunk gives us a completely dark and twisted tale that I could spend a whole blog on. Thank you, dear editors, for getting this story, and thank you, Mr. Schow, for writing it.
“The Third Bear,” Jeff Vandermeer. An Epic Tale that doesn’t waste any time. Relentless.
“Proboscis,” Laird Barron. One of my new favorite writers. This one grabs you by the throat.
“Little Monsters,” Stephen Graham Jones. The Kevin Bacon of Horror Fiction, and that is meant as a compliment. This short little piece may be the longest paragraph ever written, but it is a damned good longest paragraph.
“The Monsters of Heaven,” Nathan Ballingrud. Wow. Raw emotion combined with dread.
“Absolute Zero,” Nadia Bulkin. Mindblowing story. Definitely a rising star in the world of speculative fiction.
Stephen Graham Jones certainly needs no introduction here. I don’t know why it took me so long to get a copy of The Ones That Got Away, and knowing what I know now after reading it, I could really kick myself in the butt. Nominated for a Bram Stoker Award, this collection represents the best short fiction by Dr. Jones. The first story, “Father, Son, Holy Rabbit” blew me away. This collection includes “Raphael“, “So Perfect“, “Lonegan’s Luck“, “Wolf Island“, (a personal favorite) “Teeth“, and a new story, “Crawlspace” amongst others. (Going back and editing this, I realize I need to write a complete review of this collection. So, coming soon, a full review.) Now available in ereader format, do yourself a favor and get your hands on this one before it gets away again.
Booked Podcast is back to reviewing again, this time tackling a new edition of Chris Doomsdealer Deal’s Cienfuegos and D.B. Cox’s Unaccustomed Mercy. Both of these books may be short, but the stories inside speak volumes. If you click right here, you can listen to the reviews right now.