It would be somewhat naff of me to review “Horror For Good – A Charitable Anthology” as a whole, considering I have a story in it. Reviewing anthologies is usually problematic anyway, especially in a collection such as this with such diversity of distinctive voices and without a unifying theme. There are seldom any near-universal favourites in such a collection; every reader and reviewer seems to have different favourites. I’m often bemused by this – bemused and pleased (the “pleased” part helps to remind me that you can’t please all the people all the time. As long as somebody enjoys what you write, then you’re doing alright).
Here in no particular order are my top five stories from a collection that is, in my totally biased opinion, a must-have on every horror fan’s shelf.
The Silent Ones by Taylor Grant
This story resonated with me because it explores a theme for which I have a slight fascination – the way that our 21st century modern society can alienate individuals, disconnect them from others and render them invisible.
The Meat Man by Jonathan Templar
I usually dither when asked to choose a favourite anything, but this story was my personal favourite out of the collection, without question. Like The Silent Ones, it deals with characters that have become invisible to the world, only metaphorically in this case, and for somewhat different reasons. The idea that there is an out-of-sight, underground workforce, populated by society’s square pegs and charged with those essential tasks that polite folk don’t want even want to think about, is compelling, plausible and ripe for exploration in horror fiction. I found the ending unexpected and simultaneously shocking and uplifting. Gotta love it when a story messes with your head and your heart like that.
Consanguinity by Lorne Dixon
Usually I prefer subtler stories than this, but I got sucked in and pulled under by this gritty, violent tale of ghosts and guns and incest and blood-soaked history. So many horror stories fail to impress me because the violence and ickiness comes across as gratuitous – not so with this story. Every nasty detail is integral to the characterisation and the plot.
The Other Patrick by Brad C. Hodson
A complete contrast to the previously mentioned story, this one was gentle and sweet and almost unbearably tragic, that speaks to half the people on the planet. For what parent doesn’t feel like they love their children more than life itself?
Shiva, Open Your Eye by Laird Barron
Most first person stories from the point of view of the unreliably narrating villain make me yawn, because it’s such an overused and misused device. But reading this story, you’d think that Laird Barron invented the concept. And the words! Glaucous. Accipitrine. Niveous. Where lesser talents would use such vocabulary to come across pretentious at best and purple at worst, Barron’s story reads in places like prose poetry. A meticulously crafted piece of fiction.