Much to the dismay of malevolent critics the horror anthology is alive
and well and continues to represent an interesting and useful literary
device to entertain, scare and disquiet the faithful genre aficionados
by providing a variety of writing styles, subjects and moods. Which
means that not everything will please everyone , but also that boredom
and monotony – those feelings always dangerously lurking behind
any single-author collection – should be ruled out.
Welcome, then, to the second volume in the Dark Delicacies series, this
time featuring twenty original stories by an equal number of distinguished
horror writers trying their best to provide good food for the appetizing
horror banquet. I will mention here only the ones who have succeeded.
Barbara Hambly starts the ball with 'Sunrise on running water",
an excellent, imaginative piece of solid fiction where a vampire finds
himself involved in the sinking of the Titanic, no less!
Joe Landsdale's 'Dog' is a truly terrifying story depicting an epic,
bloody struggle between a man and a fierce, wild dog. Really an outstanding,
brutal example of terror tale.
By contrast John Harrison contributes 'The accompanist', a delicate story
of friendship and love at the time of silent movies, with an affectionate
homage to the subtle power of music.
In Robert Masello's 'If there's a will…' – a spooky view
of hidden family affairs – a young man coming home for his father's
funeral discovers that things in the family are not quite what they seem
Ray Garton's 'Between eight and nine o' clock', crime fiction written
in a superlative storytelling style, portrays the tragic end of both
an unhappy marriage and a promising love affair, while Harry Shannon's
' A host of shadows' represents an upsetting sample of neuro-psychiatric
exploring the dark secrets of human brain.
The talented Glen Hirshberg provides 'I am coming to live in your mouth',
an enigmatic and depressing tableau centered on the deathbed of a cancer
patient, where life and feelings disintegrate and nightmares take shape.
The highlight of the volume to me is Caitlin R. Kiernan's 'The ammonite
violin (Murder Ballad no. 4)'an outstanding piece of dark, poetic prose
featuring a melancholy serial killer and a shy, young violinist.
The remaining tales, although usually not bad, are just run-of-the-mill
material, that will possibly satisfy the less demanding palates.
At any rate, 'Dark Delicacies 2' does dispense a good meal to the hungry
crowd of horror fans.
Enjoy your food.