cover image Holy Terror

Holy Terror

Cherie Priest. Subterranean, $45 (528p) ISBN 978-1-64524-055-6

This outstanding collection of 14 stories and one poem from Priest (The Toll) should get this gifted, versatile author the wider acknowledgment her significant talent merits. Each entry combines evocative prose and imaginative reinventions of classic tropes. “The Catastrophe Box” showcases Priest’s skill at drawing readers in with ominous understatement (“It began when my wife returned from London with a wooden box and a nervous aspect, both of which unsettled me deeply”). The ensuing tale is a clever fictionalization of a real case probed by psychic investigator Harry Price (1881–1948) involving an Englishwoman who persuaded her followers that she was pregnant with the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. Priest is also adept at conjuring cosmic horror while eschewing mustiness, clunky writing, or clichés, as evidenced by “The October Devotion” and “Bad Sushi.” The latter is a standout, with an unusual lead—septuagenarian sushi chef Baku—standing between humanity and disaster. These masterful tales will wow readers. Agent: Stacia Decker, Dunow, Carlson & Lerner Literary. (Jan.)