cover image Mantid: Volume 3

Mantid: Volume 3

Edited by Farah Rose Smith. Wraith, $11 trade paper (186p) ISBN 978-1-387-49429-3

Weird fiction fans will find their taste for the unsettling sated in this anthology of eight short stories in which the horrific intrudes into characters’ mundane lives. In Brooke Warra’s haunting “The Scritch,” the best contribution, six-year-old Mary struggles to live with her parents’ depression following the death of her older sister, Elizabeth, whose fatal fall down a well has triggered nightmares in the younger sibling. As in classic horror, Mary’s disturbing dreams seem to take tangible form when she hears someone, or something, making scratching noises in the well where Elizabeth died, which proves a prelude to more tragedy. The bizarre creeps up on the reader more gradually in another memorable entry, Carrie Laben’s “Augerino,” which opens, deceptively, with a family vacation featuring a stop at an unusual Colorado museum; Laben foreshadows the plot’s detour from the normal world when her protagonist hears “a grinding noise, like rocks being pushed against each other, or teeth” outside her hotel window at night. This is a quality showcase of the authors’ imaginative takes on familiar genre themes. (May)