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In Association with
Horror Library: Volume Four
edited by R.J. Cavender and Boyd E. Harris
Cutting Block paperback $18.95

review by Mario Guslandi

Although a long time reader (and reviewer) of short horror fiction I must admit that, for some reason, the Horror Library anthologies from Cutting Block Press, have escaped my notice so far. The fourth volume in this series gives me the opportunity to make up for my unintentional lack of attention. The book assembles 29 original horror stories from a bunch of little-known horror writers, who provide good reading stuff for the horror fans.

All in all, I'm impressed with the average good quality of the tales although, as predictable with any anthology, not everything is top notch. To comment upon so many contributions is obviously impossible, so, with my apologies to the remaining authors, I will only focus on the very best of the book. And when I say the very best I mean that among the collected stories there are a few really excellent, which would deserve to be included or at least mentioned in some of the next Year's Best... anthologies.

First of all I'd like to give unconditioned praise to the opening story penned by the editors R.J. Cavender and Boyd E. Harris. Although, generally, I don't approve of editors including their own stories in their anthologies, I'm quite happy that Cavender and Harris have committed this inelegant act. Their tale A Very Important Message For Those Planning To Travel To Costa Rica is an extraordinary cautionary tale set between reality and fiction, created with superior craftsmanship. Kurt Dinan's Into The After is another outstanding piece where the truth about the death of a woman during 9/11 is revealed by a medium first to her husband and then, in a different version, to her son.

In Ash Wednesday by Lorne Dixon we learn how, after a conflagration in a mental institute, cops and firemen are forced to face a worse horror inside the mess. Bentley Little provides Jammers, a very original, disquieting tale disclosing what really causes traffic jams in the highways, while Tom Brennan contributes Guardians, a short but quite strong story on the SF side where a haunting expedition to destroy mutants ends up in tragedy.

The vivid The Healing Hands Of Reverend Wainwright reveals the horrible truth behind the uncanny powers of a famous healer. Finally, Testaville, Ohio is a superb, atmospheric story featuring a young man coming back to his hometown to retrieve his former girlfriend and save her from the evil ghosts pestering the neighbourhood. Now that I've discovered this anthology series rest assured I'll be on the lookout for the next instalment. I advise you to do the same.

Horror Library 4

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