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. In “The Boggle Hole” by Alison Littlewood an ancient folk tale leads to irrevocable loss. In Josh Malerman’s “The House of the Head” a dollhouse becomes the focus for an incident both violent and inexplicable. In “Speaking Still” Ramsey Campbell suggests that beyond death there may be far worse things waiting than we can ever imagine… Numinous, surreal and gut wrenching, New Fears is a vibrant collection showcasing the very best fiction modern horror has to offer.
Okay, so I initially went into Waterstones hunting for the final installment in Ezekiel Boone’s Hatching trilogy (check out my reviews for the first two books here and here) and came out instead with New Fears. My quest for Zero Day ended in failure (I eventually ordered it and am now happily devouring it), but the cover for New Fears pulled me in simply because it put me in mind of the covers of The Hatching and Skitter. I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned on numerous occasions in my reviews of Boone’s books that I’m prone to night terrors that revolve solely around bugs so any horror book that has such things adorning its cover is guaranteed to be a book that’ll scare the living crap out of me (metaphorically, of course).
There were a couple of stories within New Fears that genuinely creeped me out, namely The House of the Head, which is unique take on the traditional haunted house story in the respect that it’s about a haunting that takes place inside a dolls house. We witness the events unfolding through the eyes of a young girl, who’s reflecting upon it many years later as a grown woman. The description of the creepy ass doll’s head which seems to be at the epicenter of the haunting genuinely chilled me and don’t even get me started on the scene where the girl can see its reflection in the dolls house bathroom mirror…despite not actually seeing it in the bathroom! Also, somewhat ironically, this story was written by Josh Malerman whose novella A House at the Bottom of a Lake I didn’t get on with overly well.
However, I found a majority of the stories somewhat anticlimactic. The Salter Collection, for example, had a great premise. Imagine having an immense collection of phonograph cylinders dating back to more than a century ago, only to find undiscovered secret cylinders hidden beneath the outer wax coating, cylinders that contain sound recordings of a mysterious language and haunting screams. That’s pretty cool, right? Well, yeah, it would have been if the ending hadn’t fallen so flat. It’s sometimes good to leave the conclusion of a story open ended, but I have to confess and say that I didn’t understand it at all. I don’t know, maybe I’m a bit stupid and not good at reading between the lines. I mean, I don’t need things spoon feeding to me but I just found it didn’t seem to make sense.
An intriguing collection of horror stories nonetheless and well worth a read. Amazon informs me that a second collection is due out later this year!
Rating: 3 out of 5
Song: Eels’ Fresh Blood
This book is available on Amazon in paperback and e-reader format.