September 4th, 2019

Anya final stand, S7

Nightmares: A New Decade of Modern Horror, edited by Ellen Datlow

I thought maybe I was going to write horror for a fic exchange, which didn't end up happening, and but in the meantime I read this for inspiration. As with most short story collections, it was a mix of stuff I enjoyed, stuff that was not for me, and "wtf even happened in this story." Disclaimer: I am nearly always going to enjoy horror with a supernatural element more than horror without.

Stories I especially enjoyed:
"Our Turn Too Will One Day Come," Brian Hodge. Creepy supernatural story about trauma and family and heritage, set in the Colorado mountains. I loved the slow reveal in this, the writing, the relationship between the adult brother and sister - everything, pretty much.

"Spectral Evidence," Gemma Files. A medium/possession murder mystery that unfolds via documents transcribed by some academic's grad assistant. I am always a sucker for documents fic.

"Lonegan's Luck," Stephen Graham Jones. A weird, weird zombie story set perhaps in the American wild west, if anywhere. Great creepy POV, deliciously and satisfyingly horrible ending.

"Omphalos," Livia Llewellyn. Probably my favorite in the collection, this is multi-generational, literally incestuous codependence at its most dysfunctional, set against a backdrop of a family camping trip into the Olympic peninsula. I'm not 100% sure what happens in it, but I don't care. Content warning for graphic on-screen rape, among other things.

"Shay Corsham Worsted," Garth Nix. The little old man down the street has altered his routine, and now all of Britain may die. Who is Shay? Was it created or discovered? How was it programmed? I love the tension in this between the very clear sequence of events and source of the horror combined with the worldbuilding and backstory questions that the story leaves completely unaddressed. Also this is ultimately a story about the horror of bureaucracy and organizational entropy, so that's fun.

Stories I did not finish:
"The Shallows," John Langan. Surrealist, reminded me a bit of the Southern Reach books, narrative voice I didn't care for. Also nobody talked like people.

"Strappado," Laird Barron. Overwritten, and then I got to this line and gave up: In the seam between the electric shock of their reunion and the resultant delirium fugue of violent coupling, Kenshi had an instant to doubt the old magic before the question was utterly obliterated.

"Interstate Love Song (Murder Ballad No. 8)" by Caitlin R Kiernan. Nothing against this one, actually - it's about lesbian serial killers in love, aka definitely up my alley - except that it's stream of consciousness with no paragraph breaks except for scenes, and I never found the time to give it the sustained attention it needed.

Crossposted from Dreamwidth. Comments welcome over there. (comment count unavailable DW replies)