A new book edited by Ellen Datlow is always a good opportunity to read some fine horror stories, especially when – as in the present case- it’s a non-themed anthology assembling only original material, which allows the authors to contribute with no limitations in terms of subjects and subgenres. Needless to say, the twenty stories included in Fearful Symmetries are nice examples of good contemporary dark fiction, yet not everything would please any reader or any reviewer.
Taste is always so subjective and personal that, except in the event of outstanding masterpieces on which almost anyone will agree, everybody takes his/her pick and that’ s just it. So please indulge me and accept my opinion on what’ s supposedly the best among the simply good.
“The Witch Moth” by Bruce McAllister is a wonderful, insightful tale about witchcraft and its intrinsic sadness, but also about life, sorrows and disappointments, while “In the Year of Omens” by Helen Marshall is a puzzling but fascinating piece where a teenager has to face not only the usual growing pains but also unfathomable mysteries.
In Jeffrey Ford’s sparkling and imaginative “Mount Chary Galore” , an extremely enjoyable but hard to describe story, magic and ordinary life blend perfectly and in Kaaren Warren’s excellent “Bridge of Sighs” a corpse reanimator provides the bereft relatives with a fleeting moment of happiness.
“Will the Real Psycho In This Story Please Stand Up?” by Pat Cadigan is a vivid, very entertaining tableau depicting a high school prom where the deeds of a religious nut become revealed.
Other noteworthy contributions are “Kaiju” by Gary McMahon , a short, apocalyptic tale of terrible beauty, and “Power” by Michael Marshall Smith, a delightful piece ot technological horror.
Other distinguished contributors, whose stories will be certainly praised by someone else, are: Gemma Files,Nathan Ballingrud,Terry Dowling,Stephen Graham Jones,Brian Evenson, Caitlin R Kiernan,Robert Shearman,Laird Barron,Catherine McLeod,John Langan, Siobhan Carroll, Carole Johnstone and Garth Nix
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