Authors: Jesse Bullington, S. J. Chambers, Fi Michell, Laura Ellen Joyce, Richard Dansky,Steve Dempsey, Ramsey Campbell, Dmetri Kakmi, Sean Logan, Mason Wild, Damien Kelly, Phil Reeves,Ed Martin.
Published by Stone Skin Press.
I'm not a reader of horror apart from the stories gifted to us by H P Lovecraft and I have a shelf of spooky books that I have purchased but not yet cracked open. When The New Gothic landed on my doorstep I was more than intrigued but a little unsure; there'd been a lot of teen vamps and decidedly unscary wolves around, recently, and I was a bit concerned that the contemporary nature of the stories would result in yet more cuddly fan-friendly monsters.
So it was with a sense of relief - and a healthy dose of shock - that I read the first story 'Dive In Me' and pretty much realised straight away that there was going to be no sign of any misunderstood nightcrawlers here. This story hits the ground running and pretty much sets the pace for the rest of the book. It's a strong start and, gladly, the following stories manage to keep up with that initial punch to the gut with a flurry of blows, creating that 'just one more page before lights out' approach to reading. Although, I'd be surprised if you wanted to turn the lights out after putting this down.
The stories on offer give you ghosts, scary houses, remote locations, monsters - if you're scared of it the chances are that it's covered by this anthology. Each story is sharp and well written and full of imagery that hits hard and honestly leaves you gasping. If you're a horror aficionado then you may not be as hard hit by the stories as I was, but then horror isn't really my thing so it was bound to get to me. That makes the book quite appealing to non-horror fans or people wanting to experience the genre for the first time; the variety of stories on offer gives you a look at different stories and approaches so it'll no doubt help you get a feel for what it is you want out of scary books.
The stories in here are of a high quality but if I had to pick a favourite then I'd have to say ‘The Vault of Artemas Smith’ by Phil Reeves. The first-person Lovecraftian-style narrative makes the action incredibly immediate and the personal nature of the style increases the tension as you're taken on a journey through a destroyed house. It's easy to understand why I love this story as it has that feel of the Lovecraftian stories that I enjoy, but that just reinforces the fact that there's something in this book for everyone. I was certainly happy to find a story such as this, and I was more than pleased to be introduced to many more horror stories that I would never have otherwise experienced.
I can heartily recommend The New Gothic. It's a great read that hooks you - in a horrible blood-spattering way - and the talent on show here is excellent.
Not sure when I'll be picking it up to read again, mind you...