Nightmares: A New Decade of Modern Horror was published by Tachyon Publications in November 2016.
Information about Ellen Datlow:
Ten-time World Fantasy Award-winner Ellen Datlow is one of horror’s most acclaimed editors. Datlow was the fiction editor of OMNI for nearly twenty years and also edited the magazines Event Horizon and Sci Fiction. Her many bestselling anthologies include the Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror series; Snow White, Blood Red; Lovecraft’s Monsters; Naked City, and Darkness. Datlow has won multiple Hugo, Locus, and Shirley Jackson awards. She has received several lifetime achievement awards, including the Bram Stoker and World Fantasy Awards. Datlow lives in New York City.
Information about Nightmares: A New Decade of Modern Horror:
From horror’s most acclaimed editor comes the most groundbreaking horror of the new millennium. In Nightmares, editor extraordinaire Ellen Datlow has skillfully reprised her classic anthology Darkness: Two Decades of Modern Horror.
In these twenty-four chilling tales, you will find iconic authors - including Richard Kadrey, Garth Nix, Caitlín R. Kiernan, and Gene Wolfe - reminding us that evil will simply not go away. Two inexperienced thieves discover a residence that makes Home Alone seem like a playground romp. Concerned parents struggle with morality while their cruel child courts fairy revenge. The Ash Mouth Man might be just a legend to girls who wish to waste away - but is he worth just one kiss?
A REVIEW OF NIGHTMARES: A NEW DECADE OF MODERN HORROR
Nightmares: A New Decade of Modern Horror (edited by Ellen Datlow) is a diverse and well-edited horror anthology that demonstrates what kind of terrors and mesmerising strangeness modern horror has to offer for readers who are looking for something dark, terrifying and unsettling to read. It doesn't disappoint its readers, because the editor has done her best to gather as many different kind of stories as possible and has paid attention to quality.
Modern horror fiction and modern weird fiction are intriguing sub-genres of speculative fiction, because they give authors plenty of freedom to explore difficult themes and issues in a memorable and thought-provoking way. In this anthology, readers have an opportunity to read about all kinds of unsettling things, because the contents of the stories range from psychological horror to modern weird fiction, covering a lot of ground between them.
As many of us are aware of, horror fiction - and especially weird fiction - has become increasingly popular during the last decade. I think it's great that several new and talented authors have emerged during the recent years and have taken their place alongside the old masters. This anthology allows readers to explore what kind of unsettling stories various authors have written.
Nightmares contains the following twenty-four stories, which have been published during 2005-2015:
- “Shallaballah” by Mark Samuels
- “Sob in the Silence” by Gene Wolfe
- “Our Turn Too Will One Day Come” by Brian Hodge
- “Dead Sea Fruit” by Kaaron Warren (Aurealis Awards nominee)
- “Closet Dreams” by Lisa Tuttle (International Horror Guild winner/Bram Stoker nominee)
- “Spectral Evidence” by Gemma Files
- “Hushabye” by Simon Bestwick
- “Very Low-Flying Aircraft” by Nicholas Royle
- “The Goosle” by Margo Lanagan (Ditmar Award winner)
- “The Clay Party” by Steve Duffy
- “Strappado” by Laird Barron (Shirley Jackson nominee)
- “Lonegan’s Luck” by Stephen Graham Jones (Shirley Jackson nominee)
- “Mr Pigsny” by Reggie Oliver
- “At Night, When the Demons Come” by Ray Cluley
- “Was She Wicked? Was She Good?” By M. Rickert
- “The Shallows” by John Langan
- “Little Pig” by Anna Taborska
- “Omphalos” by Livia Llewellyn (Shirley Jackson Award nominee)
- “How We Escaped Our Certain Fate” by Dan Chaon (Shirley Jackson Award nominee)
- “That Tiny Flutter of the Heart I Used to Call Love” by Robert Shearman (Shirley Jackson Award nominee)
- “Interstate Love Song (Murder Ballad No. 8)” by Caitlín R. Kiernan
- “Shay Corsham Worsted” by Garth Nix (Shirley Jackson Award nominee)
- “The Atlas of Hell” by Nathan Ballingrud
- “Ambitious Boys Like You” by Richard Kadrey
I was amazed at the high quality of these stories. I had previously read some of them (Laird Barron, Livia Llewellyn etc), but a few of them were unknown to me. I have nothing bad to say about any of these stories, because they're excellent and atmospheric horror stories (I liked each of them for different reasons).
Prior to reading this anthology I was not very familiar with the stories written by Simon Bestwick, M. Rickert, Anna Taborska, Dan Chaon, Margo Lanagan and Gemma Files. I intend to take a closer look at their works, because I liked their stories.
When I read horror fiction, I tend to pay a lot of attention to the quality of the prose, because I feel that well written prose is an essential part of a good horror story. I was positively surprised by how well written and atmospheric these stories were, because the authors had done their best to write as memorable horror fiction as possible.
One of the reasons why I love modern horror fiction is that many authors are not afraid of delving into difficult themes and issues, but boldly embrace them and lead readers on a journey into a world where bad things can happen to good people and where mere existence can become a struggle for sanity and survival. In modern horror stories, everyday life can be filled with fear, pain and suffering, and the protagonists may experience or suffer from mental health problems. The protagonists may also be terrified and plagued by something unknown or are helplessly drawn towards darkness. It's great that all of this - and much more - can be found in this anthology.
Here are my thoughts about some of the stories:
“Shallaballah” by Mark Samuels is one of the best stories I've had the pleasure of reading this year, because it's an effective story with elements of urban decay. It features a terrifying "clinic" whose owner offers his services to people who can afford them. I think that everybody who reads this story will agree with me when I say that Mr. Punch and Nurse Judy give a whole new meaning to Punch and Judy.
"Sob in the Silence” by Gene Wolfe is a creepy and memorable story about a horror writer and a haunted house. This is one of my favourite Gene Wolfe stories, because it demonstrates that the author is capable of writing all kinds of stories and is not afraid of shocking his readers with creepy material.
“Spectral Evidence” by Gemma Files is something a bit different, because it's a story about a set of photographs that were found during a routine reorganization of the Freihoeven Institute's ParaPsych Department files. I liked this story a lot, because it differed from other stories and had a scientific feel to it.
“Hushabye” by Simon Bestwick is a powerful and well written story about a hunt for a man who assaults children. This disquieting masterpiece of modern horror has an excellent ending.
“The Goosle” by Margo Lanagan is a twisted re-telling of Hansel and Gretel. It's an excellently written, thought-provoking and disturbing piece of modern dark fantasy/horror fiction that is difficult to forget.
“Strappado” by Laird Barron is an excellent and memorable story about former lovers, Kenshi Suzuki and Swayne Harris, who have a chance reunion in India and are invited to an exhibition. I won't write more about this story, because I don't want to ruin it for those who have not had an opportunity to read it yet, but I can mention that it is one of the best stories I've ever read and the ending is memorable. Once you read this story, you won't be able to forget it, because it will stick to your mind.
“Lonegan’s Luck” by Stephen Graham Jones is a well-told story about a snake oil salesman and his fate. This story is an interesting combination of western and zombie elements. The author has fully succeeded in blending these elements and has come up with a highly enjoyable story.
“Little Pig” by Anna Taborska impressed me a lot. The story begins with a man waiting for his Polish girlfriend's grandmother at the airport and then readers get a stunning glimpse into the grandmother's childhood. This short story works well from start to finish.
“Omphalos” by Livia Llewellyn is a memorable and shocking story about a girl, June, who has been taken on a vacation. She tries to find shelter from her abusive and incestuous father. The author's way of writing about the girl's feelings and experiences has a deep emotional impact on the reader. This story has an impressive ending.
“That Tiny Flutter of the Heart I Used to Call Love” by Robert Shearman is a brilliant and thought-provoking story about a brother and a sister, Karen and Nicholas, who execute dolls. The author writes fluently about Karen's childhood happenings and their impact on her.
“Interstate Love Song (Murder Ballad No. 8)” by Caitlín R. Kiernan is one of the most memorable stories in this anthology due to its contents. In this story, the author combines a highway tale and a murder story in an intriguingly disturbing way as she writes about murderous twin sisters.
“The Atlas of Hell” by Nathan Ballingrud is a story about Jack Oleander who sells used books. He meets Tobias George who sells artifacts pulled from Hell and makes a lot of money doing it. This is a fascinating story that reveals why the author one of the best writers of modern horror fiction.
“Ambitious Boys Like You” by Richard Kadrey is a well written creepy tale about two cousins who decide to break into an old man's house, which is believed to be haunted. They find something very dark inside the house and get into trouble.
I think that Ellen Datlow has done an excellent job at gathering as many different kind of stories as possible, because they highlight what modern horror is and how it has evolved in the hands of talented authors who dare to explore various things within the context of horror fiction. She has created an anthology that has something for everybody. No matter what your taste in horror fiction is, you'll find something to enjoy in this anthology.
Because I'm a devoted fan of weird fiction and love weird stories, I was delighted to notice that the editor had included many weird fiction stories into this anthology. Such stories as “Shallaballah” by Mark Samuels, “The Shallows” by John Langan and “Omphalos” by Livia Llewellyn are perfect examples of modern and striking weird fiction, because each of them is refreshingly original. Mark Samuels, John Langan and Livia Llewellyn have unique literary voices and they're not afraid of pushing the boundaries of weird fiction into exciting directions.
Nightmares is a dream come true anthology for those who love the darker and twisted side of speculative fiction and want to be entertained by beautifully written, dark and imaginative stories that give readers something to think about (it's a chilling, entertaining, unsettling and rewarding reading experience). Each of the stories in this anthology is worth reading and should not be missed by fans of quality horror fiction. Horror fiction anthologies don't get any better than this, so please make sure that you'll read this one as soon as possible or you'll be sorry to have missed it.