Tim Lebbon, Christopher Golden, James A. Moore, . . Cemetery Dance, $40 (458pp) ISBN 978-1-58767-175-3
The British may not have invented the modern horror story, as the editors of this all-original anthology claim, but the 21 stories they've selected prove that contemporary U.K. writers are infiltrating American publishing markets with some of the most provocative horror fiction written today. Refreshingly devoid of genre clichés, these subtle tales offer ambiguously supernatural horrors from the dramas and traumas of everyday life. Nicholas Royle, in “The Goldfinch,” gives chronic illness an unsettling spin by objectifying a man's cancer as a relentless shadowy stalker. Mark Morris's “Puppies for Sale” presents a nuclear family's gradual implosion as a consequence of a malignant supernatural influence that may be a complete figment of the distraught father's mind. In Conrad Williams's “Slitten Gorge,” the disconnect between the unpolluted natural world and the protagonist's industrially despoiled environment achieves an aura of otherworldly horror. The book's title notwithstanding, there's nothing peculiarly British about these stories, but their authors are exceptionally articulate in the universal language of horror.
Reviewed on: 01/14/2008