Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Review: Halloween (Anthology)

This anthology has a claim to fame - it contains both Ray Bradbury's "The October Game" and a tribute sequel written by F. Paul Wilson (The November Game). Which only makes Bradbury's story look better and remind us of what a great horror writer he was. Sorry, Mr. Wilson.

The 30 stories and three poems in this anthology lean towards the subtle and chilling - a few, such as Peter Straub's excellent "Pork Pie Hat" barely count as horror. Only one, Al Sarrantonio's "Hornets" relies on gore to disturb the reader. This is as far from splatterpunk as you can get - a great anthology for those who are more nauseated than titillated by blood and guts. Paula Guran has put together a good mixture of classics and new stories that all work as much by what they leave out than what they put in. (All three included poems are classics - written by Lovecraft, Poe, and Sir Walter Scott respectively).

Overall, I didn't like this anthology quite as much as some of the other Prime Books products, but I did like it quite a lot. Standouts, other than the Bradbury story, were the previously-mentioned "Pork Pie Hat," Chelsea Quinn Yarbro's intriguing (and very not horror) "Sugar Skulls" and Nancy Kilpatrick's "Memories of El Dia de Los Muertos." It seems the more subtle the story the better. None of the stories were particularly bad, which is always a good thing in an anthology this size.

Paula Guran did a good job with this one - I recommend this anthology to those who like their horror creepy and understated.

Four stars.

(Book picked up for free at Balticon).