The ZONE genre worldwide books movies
the science fiction
fantasy horror &
mystery website
 
 
home  articles  profiles  interviews  essays  books  movies  competitions  guidelines  issues  links  archives  contributors  email

The Third Black Book Of Horror
editor: Charles Black
Mortbury paperback £7.50

review by Mario Guslandi

Charles Black, the man who single-handed is re-launching the horror anthology in the UK (and whom some critics are already calling 'the new Herbert Van Thal'), presents us with the third instalment in his Black Book Of Horror volumes. The series has being consistently good so far and the third book is not going to disappoint the genre fans looking forward to more good stories. Anthologies, however, are like football teams: just when you're expecting a great performance from the more celebrate champions, they fail, while someone else in the team perhaps less famous is the one who scores and leads the other players to victory.

In this book, for example the Gray Friar Press team (i.e. Gary Fry, Gary McMahon, and John Llewellyn Probert), formed by authors usually contributing excellent stuff, appears surprisingly uninspired and provides rather flat material not up to their standard. On the other hand Paul Finch, a writer who never misfires, makes us happily scared with the splendid In The Ticket, a delightful tale with a slightly Jamesian taste where a clergyman and his mischievous nephew face medieval horrors in an eerie wood in which the dead haunt the living. Another priest, this one maliciously unleashing supernatural forces to punish a meek tarot reader, is the main character of Rog Pile's The Scavenger, a solid horror tale of traditional texture.

In Synchronicity, by the comparative newcomer Craig Herbertson, old unpleasant school events (bullying, sadism tortures) surface once again during an uneasy class reunion. The extraordinary carving of the characters, the smooth narrative style and a touch of black humour make the story a superb piece of fiction to be savoured word by word. Franklin Marsh's The Lake is another excellent story, a creepy tale revolving around an accursed lake where wronged or unhappy lovers find their death by suicide. In Like A Bird, a long story with an Aickman-esque flavour penned by Mike Chinn, tells of how a photographer taking pictures in the Azores for a travel company rediscovers, underneath the ordinary local reality, that some of the terrible myths of Atlantis are still alive. Finn is a very talented storyteller with a knack for inducing deep disquiet in a gentle, unassuming way.

To me the best two tales in the anthology are of rare, outstanding quality. Paul Newman's Widow's Weeds is an extraordinary, tense, tour de force where the author, by means of an elegant language and a steady narrative pace, depicts the predicament of a man haunted by a curse while in Bali and since then bound to a tragic end. Family Ties, by the duo Steve Lockley and Paul Lewis, is an unforgettable thrilling tale featuring a pregnant woman chased by her former husband now turned into a zombie. A premature labour will deliver a stillborn baby boy and the family will be reunited in death. A unique example of horror becoming poetry...

Praise to Charles Black for assembling another enthralling horror anthology. I hope many more will follow.
Third Black Book of Horror

Please support this
website - buy stuff
using these links:
Amazon.co.uk
Amazon.com

home  articles  profiles  interviews  essays  books  movies  competitions  guidelines  issues  links  archives  contributors  email
copyright © 2001 - 2008 Pigasus Press