A group of mountain climbers, caught in the dark, fights to survive their descent; An American band finds more than they bargained for in Mexico while scouting remote locations for a photo shoot; A young student’s exploration into the origins of a mysterious song leads him on a winding, dangerous path through the US’s deep south; A group of kids scaring each other with ghost stories discovers alarming consequences.
My Selection: Endoskeletal—Sarah Read I have a soft spot for beautiful descriptions of gore and this one was just so impressive. I haven’t come across a story like it since Clive Barker’s Jacqueline Ess: Her Will and Testament I cannot wait to read more from Sarah Read. Hubris, especially in the name of research, typically backfires and it’s a narrative device that really can posit something supernatural as merely inexplainable. Laird Barron’s short story –30– from Occultation and Other Stories would be a companion read. Both do a wonderful job of seeing exactly what can happen when there’s no barrier keeping a field of study from merging with your life outside of it. This holds a mirror to how vulnerable curiosity can make you, especially if you remain skeptical.
Stranded on a desert island, a young man yearns for objects from his past. A local from a small coastal town in England is found dead as the tide goes out. A Norwegian whaling ship is stranded in the Arctic, its crew threatened by mysterious forces. In the nineteenth century, a ship drifts in becalmed waters in the Indian Ocean, those on it haunted by their evil deeds. A surfer turned diver discovers there are things worse than drowning under the sea. Something from the sea is creating monsters on land.
My Selection: Broken Record — Stephen Graham Jones (His collection of short stories After the People Lights Have Gone Off is easily one of the most distinct I’ve read within the last decade and this story is no exception. I saw germinations of the first episode of The Twlight Zone “Where Is Everybody?” in which a similar occurrence befalls a man with amnesia. Broken Record however, is just that: an endless delirium induced by the trauma of unyielding isolation. The story is horrifying largely because it’s not supernatural in any way; it’s unavoidable and often something you have no control over making the situation irrevocably more tragic.
***Oddly enough, Where is Everybody? was first broadcast October 2nd, 1959 exactly 59 years later Datlow’s The Best of the Best Horror of the Year: 10 years of Essential Short Horror Fiction is to release. The vibes are present, and the vibes are very correct***
***One of Publishers Weekly‘s “Most Anticipated Books of Fall 2018″***
In the British countryside, hundreds of magpies ascend into the sky, higher and higher, until they seem to vanish into the heavens; a professor and his student track a zombie horde in order to research zombie behavior; an all-girl riding school has sinister secrets; a town rails in vain against a curse inflicted upon it by its founders; a group of mountain climbers, caught in the dark, fight to survive their descent.
My Selection: In a Cavern, in a Canyon—Laird Barron (Anyone who has been called “the heir apparent to Lovecraft” is well worth your time. Personally everything I’ve read by Laird has been evocative, minimal, and deeply unsettling; so the moniker is definitely fitting and I couldn’t stop thinking about this story long after I finished reading. Barron’s ability to describe an atmosphere as minimally as possible add so much to an already disarming theme. Like much of his work the line between reality and surreality grows thinner the more you keep reading. Dreamlike, cold, and completely engrossing