cover image Strange Tales: Volume IV

Strange Tales: Volume IV

Edited by Rosalie Parker. Tartarus (, $56 (232p) ISBN 978-1-905784-60-8

As with previous volumes in this World Fantasy Award%E2%80%93winning series, this anthology of 15 new stories features the work of some of the best and brightest of the publisher's roster of talents. In "The Secret Passage," Rhys Hughes blends rococo fantasy and unexpected horror in a tale about a visionary who succeeds beyond his wildest dreams%E2%80%94and worst nightmare%E2%80%94in building a house from the design of a fourth-dimensional tesseract. Rebecca Lloyd's "Gone to the Deep," one of several dark tales that grow out of troubled marital relationships, tells of a former fisherman lured from his wife by the siren song of a creature that embodies the awe and mystery of the sea. Angela Slatter's "The Badger's Bride" is a charming period fantasy about a young woman who discovers the truth of the magical content of a book she is hand-copying through its impact on an animal in her care. A number of the selections are surreal accounts of strangers traveling in strange lands, among them Mark Francis's "For a Last Spark of the Divine," in which a vacationer in India encounters the god behind a garish idol, and Andrew Hook's "Drowning in Air," about a visitor to a volcanic Japanese Island whose residents all wear gas masks. In her preface, Parker observes that "the number and quality of submissions... made the job of choosing the final selection even harder" than for previous volumes. The stories selected for this volume attest to the diversity and imaginative possibilities inherent in the strange tale. (Oct.)