Welcome to another installment of 31 Days of Halloween! This is our chance to set the mood for the spookiest and scariest month of the year as we focus our attention on horror and Halloween fun. For the month of October we’ll be sharing various pieces of underappreciated scary books, comics, movies, and television to help keep you terrified and entertained all the way up to Halloween.
It’s almost the witching season, so what better way to get in the mood for All Hallow’s Eve than a good scare? Maybe even more than one? From the publisher:
FEAR COMES IN MANY FORMS
The horror genre’s greatest living practitioners drag our darkest fears kicking and screaming into the light in this collection of nineteen brand-new stories. Numinous, surreal and gut wrenching, New Fears is a vibrant collection showcasing the very best fiction modern horror has to offer.
I love anthologies, particularly horror ones, and I’ve reviewed a few this year. New Fears stands out as perhaps the creepiest of the bunch. There aren’t any werewolves, vampires, or any kind of monsters, really. Although there doesn’t seem to be a common thread or theme to the lot, all the stories go about bringing the horror through suspense and the unknown, much like a Lovecraft tale. For those who read horror for the blood, guts and sex that seems to be a staple of the genre, you’ll have to look elsewhere. These stories are more akin to the frights found in The Shining or The Amityville Horror, as they introduce odd occurrences or add a sinister note to mundane real world people and situations, rather than have a slathering mutants peeking through windows and stabbing people in their beds.
The lineup of authors, the majority of which are from the UK, were mostly known to me, though I did find a few standout newcomers. Ramsey Campbell’s tale, “Speaking Still” features a man receiving calls from an ex-loved one (and I do mean “ex”). Stephen Gallagher’s “Shepherd’s Business” sees a doctor taking over the rounds on a Scottish island, and discovering the tight-knit community is anything but routine. The “Abduction Door” by Christopher Golden is tightly written and plays with the long lasting effects a child’s fear can have, especially when what they’re scared of might be true.
A standout, for me, has to be the ultra-creepy “Dollies,” written by Kathryn Ptacek. It’s one of the shorter stories, but leaves a hell of an impact with the final page. A young girl tells her parents her doll has contracted small pox and dies. When the parents replace the doll, the girl says that, it too, has caught small pox and the pattern continues throughout the rest of the story. It’s a perfect example of an author showing that “horror” doesn’t have to come with claws and fangs, it just has to linger with the reader after the story is over.
Is It Good?
“New Fears” is everything you want from a horror anthology. It plays to the strengths of the truncated format by giving you just enough of each tale to make you turn on some extra lights without over-explaining the situations. If you like stories that give you the same feeling you had as a kid, hurrying up the basement stairs, without looking back, you’ll have a great time with the book.