cover image Festival of Fear

Festival of Fear

Graham Masterton. Severn, $28.95 (240p) ISBN 978-0-7278-6408-6

This 12-story collection, Masterton’s fifth (after Flights of Fear), offers little festivity, but features vibrant dialogue and distinctively eerie plot twists. Prominent horror writer Masterton provides such wide-ranging delights as voracious mirrors in “Camelot” and truly joined young lovers in “Sepsis,” and even foreshadows today’s “pink slime” scare in “The Burgers of Calais.” Some characters, such as Grace in “Anka,” prevail over malevolent forces but rarely win an unambiguous victory. Sexual encounters provide a provocation for catastrophe, a lure to self-destruction, or a means both of confronting and perpetuating evil. Descriptive passages, as in “The Burgers of Calais,” vividly set the tone while advancing the narrative: “That folksiness hides some real grisly secrets that would turn your blood to iced gazpacho.” Though the characters are generally unremarkable, Masterton excels at conjuring up unusual horrific situations with action that gallops along. (June)