New Fears (edited by Mark Morris) was published by Titan Books in September 2017.
Information about Mark Morris:
Mark Morris has written over twenty-five novels, including four books in the popular Doctor Who range. He is also the author of two short story collections and several novellas. His short fiction, articles and reviews have appeared in a wide variety of anthologies and magazines, and he is editor of Cinema Macabre, a book of horror movie essays for which he won the 2007 British Fantasy Award.
Click here to visit his official website.
Information about New Fears:
The horror genre’s greatest living practitioners drag our darkest fears kicking and screaming into the light in this collection of nineteen brand-new stories. In “The Boggle Hole” by Alison Littlewood an ancient folk tale leads to irrevocable loss. In Josh Malerman’s “The House of the Head” a dollhouse becomes the focus for an incident both violent and inexplicable. And in “Speaking Still” Ramsey Campbell suggests that beyond death there may be far worse things waiting than we can ever imagine... Numinous, surreal and gut wrenching, New Fears is a vibrant collection showcasing the very best fiction modern horror has to offer.
A REVIEW OF NEW FEARS (EDITED BY MARK MORRIS)
New Fears (edited by Mark Morris) is an excellent anthology of modern horror stories that showcases the talents of many authors, some of which may be a bit unknown to readers. This anthology is clearly one of the best horror anthologies of the year, because its contents are satisfyinly dark and unsettling.
As a long time fan of horror fiction, dark fiction and strange fiction, I'm glad to say that I was impressed by all of the stories in this anthology. Each story in this anthology is a small gem of horror fiction that will interest horror readers and those who are looking for something chilling to read.
One of the best things about this anthology is that it is not a themed anthology, but a collection of frightening and atmospheric stories in the vein of classic horror anthologies. As much as I love themed anthologies, it was refreshing to read an old-fashioned yet wholly modern horror anthology in which the editor has made sure that all of the stories are fascinating and demonstrate the versatility of the genre.
This collection contains the following stories:
The Boggle Hole – Alison Littlewood
Sherpherd's Business – Stephen Gallagher
No Good Deed – Angela Slatter
The Family Car – Brady Golden
Four Abstracts – Nina Allan
Sheltered in Place – Brian Keene
The Fold in the Heart – Chaz Brenchley
Departures – AK Benedict
The Salter Collection – Brian Lillie
Speaking Still – Ramsey Campbell
The Eyes Are White and Quiet – Carole Johnstone
The Embarrassment of Dead Grandmothers – Sarah Lotz
Eumenides (The Benevolent Ladies) – Adam Nevill
Roundabout – Muriel Gray
The House of the Head – Josh Malerman
Succulents – Conrad Williams
Dollies – Kathryn Ptacek
The Abduction Door – Christopher Golden
The Swan Dive – Stephen Laws
All of the above mentioned stories are excellent and strong stories. The authors have done their best to write chilling and unsettling stories that will continue to haunt readers for a long time after they've finished reading them.
These stories demonstrate that fear and terror come in many forms. In them, everyday life can suddenly take a turn for the macabre and nobody is safe from the clutches of fear.
Here's a bit more information about the stories and my thoughts about them:
The Boggle Hole – Alison Littlewood:
- A story about Tim who spends time with his grandfather. Tim hears from his granfather that a goblin lives on the beach in the boggle hole and if you take something that is his, he might take something from you.
- An excellent and atmospheric story that has been written in the vein of classic horror stories.
Sherpherd's Business – Stephen Gallagher:
- In this story, a doctor called Munro Spence arrives on an island to replace the old doctor who's become ill. Soon he learns that something terrifying may have happened among the islanders.
- This is one of the best horror stories I've read this year, because the author writes well about the islanders, their lives and their customs.
No Good Deed – Angela Slatter:
- A story about Isobel who wakes up, finds herself in a strange place and doesn't remember what has happened to her. She only remembers that she married Adolphus Wollstonecraft, but everything after that is blank to her. Soon she hears about what has happened to her and what is expected of her...
- This story is connected to the author's previous story, "St. Dymphna's School for Poison Girls" (originally published in The Bitterwood Bible and Other Recountings), but can be read as a standalone story.
- I was very impressed by this story, because it has everything that I've come expect from the author's stories. It's an atmospheric and brilliant story about poisons, justice and vengeance.
The Family Car – Brady Golden:
- Lindsay notices a car that looks exactly like the car her parents used to have, but she knows that it is not possible, because they had suddenly vanished along with the car.
- I find the author's way of writing about Lindsay's mental health fascinating, because the loss of her parents has affected her. It was interesting to read about how she tried to move on.
- A well written strange tale with emotional depth.
Four Abstracts – Nina Allan:
- A story about Isobel who knew an artist, Rebecca "Beck" Hathaway, whose work in oils is a kind of journal-keeping. Isobel reminisces about her friendship with Beck and remembers unsettling things that Beck told about her mother and how she said that women in her family are part-spider...
- There are many things in this story that I find fascinating. First of all, the author writes excellently about Isobel's friendship with Beck and what happens to Beck. She also explores spider mythology in an engaging and fascinating way, and her decriptions of the abstracts are captivating.
- The atmosphere in this story is effective, because you get a feeling that something is wrong with Beck and you won't be able to shake away this feeling of unease.
- An atmospheric and beautifully written story with plenty of underlying emotion and sadness. This story is slow-burning and harrowing literary horror at its utmost best.
Sheltered in Place – Brian Keene:
- This is a surprisingly memorable story about what has happened at the airport when someone has begun to shoot people.
- I think that this story will chill and terrify many readers, because it has elements that are slightly connected to real life shootings.
The Fold in the Heart – Chaz Brenchley:
- A story about a man, Rowan and Josh who face a sudden and powerful storm.
- This story is something a bit different and has a literary feel to it.
- I liked this story very much, because the author writes well about the characters and their relationship with each other.
Departures – AK Benedict:
- A woman wakes up in a pub and senses that something is wrong, because she can't remember her name or address.
- This is an interesting short story, because it deals with death and afterlife in a slightly different way.
- It was fascinating to read about the Hollow and what kind of a place it is.
The Salter Collection – Brian Lillie:
- In this story, Alice works at the library. He takes Mr. Caul to the place where the Salter Collection is and shows him something strange in the listening room...
- It was fascinating to read about what Alice and Mr. Caul found and what happened afterwards.
- This story has an excellent ending.
Speaking Still – Ramsey Campbell:
- A story about Bill whose friend, Daniel, has lost his wife. Bill witnesses how Daniel copes with the loss and how convinced he is that he gets messages from his dead wife...
- This story is a testament to the fact that Ramsey Campbell is one of the best British horror authors, because he writes consistently good stories.
- A well written story with a chilling ending.
The Eyes Are White and Quiet – Carole Johnstone:
- A story about Hannah who has problems with her eyes. Hannah has been to doctors, but nobody belives her when she tells them about her condition...
- I liked this story very much, because it's intriguingly bleak.
The Embarrassment of Dead Grandmothers – Sarah Lotz:
- In this story, Steven has gone to the theatre with his grandmother to see Andrew Lloyd Webber's "The Phantom of the Opera". His grandmother dies during the show and he finds himself in quite a difficult situation...
- This is one of the best stories in this anthology, because it's a darkly humorous story about an evening gone awry.
Eumenides (The Benevolent Ladies) – Adam Nevill:
- In this story, Jason works at Agri-Tech and the only light of his working life is Electra who's like a siren to him. He is bored and fears of what may become of him if he forgets who he is. When he asks Electra to go out, she agrees to meet him beside the zoo...
- The authors's descriptions of Jason's life and feelings are excellent, because he paints a realistic picture of a man who think of his own life and what he should do with it.
- The Victorian zoo adds a touch of macabre atmosphere to the story.
- This is definitely one of the best and most compelling stories in this anthology.
Roundabout – Muriel Gray:
- A story about Danny and the Blowbarton roundabout. Danny decides to shift The Dark Thing on the roundabout...
- I found this story especially interesting, because it's something a bit different.
- An atmospheric and well written story.
The House of the Head – Josh Malerman:
- In the winter of 1974, Elvie May witnesses a terrifying haunting in her dollhouse. The story begins when Elvie's father buys her a dollhouse that has three people inside it, just like in their house. At first, everything is normal and Elvie enjoys playing with the dollhouse, but then things gradually change and Elvie sees something disturbing and macabre inside the dollhouse...
- I like the author's writing style and the way he writes about Elvie's feelings.
- An excellent and satisfyingly dark story.
Succulents – Conrad Williams:
- Graham and his young son, Felix, are on a bike trip with other people while his wife rests at the hotel. Their guide shows them a succulent plant called 'Mother's Tears' and asks them to try it...
- I enjoyed reading about what happened to Graham and how the plant affected him.
- An interesting and atmospheric strange tale.
Dollies – Kathryn Ptacek:
- In this story, a woman used to have dolls when she was little. She named all of them Elizabeth and they all died of smallpox.
- It was intiruing and unsettling to read about what was revealed about the protagonist's birth.
- A well written story with a good ending.
The Abduction Door – Christopher Golden:
- In this story, a man suffers from the fear of the abduction door.
- The author has created quite an intriguing story about people getting snatched through the abduction doors in the middle of their elevator rides.
- The ending of this story is chilling and unsettling.
The Swan Dive – Stephen Laws:
- In this story, the protagonist is on the bridge and intends to kill himself by doing a swan dive into the water below. As he takes the dive, something weird happens to him, because he is saved by a strange being that bursts out of the water...
- An excellent and very well written weird story.
- This is one of my favourite stories in this anthology, because it's satisfyingly strange.
Here are a few more words about some of the stories:
- Alison Littlewood's "The Boggle Hole" is an entertaining and satisfyingly chilling story about what happens when Tim's grandfather takes Tim to the beach and tells him of the goblin that lives there. The author writes excellently about how Tim feels about his grandfather's house, because he experiences a strong sense of silence there as if the silence is alive.
- "Sherpherd's Business" by Stephen Gallagher's is an excellent story about a locum who arrives on an island and takes over the medical practice. The author writes realistically about what it is like to work in a new place and how people react to a new person. What has happens among the islanders is memorable, because it's something unexpected.
- Angela Slatter's "No Good Deed" demonstrates perfectly why the author is one of the most talented writers of dark fantasy and horror fiction. Her literary writing style is excellent and her sense of style and atmosphere is impeccable. I think that everyone who has a taste for well written literary strange fiction and dark fantasy will love this vengeance story, because the author writes captivatingly about Isobel and her situation.
- Nina Allan's "Four Abstracts" is a masterpiece of slow-burning literary horror fiction. This story is memorable and effective, because the author takes her time to build up an unsettling atmosphere and doesn't hurry with the story. To be honest, this story is one of the best stories of the year, because it's well written and the events advance at a subtle pace. The author's descriptions of the characters' feelings and behaviour are realistic and perceptive. Each of the characters feels like a real person and that's one of the things why the story works so well.
- Brian Lillie's "The Salter Collection" intrigued me a lot. I found it fascinating that the author wrote about library work and concentrated on writing about what the protagonist found in the Salter Collection. Brian Lillie is unfortunately a bit unknown author to me, but I intend to take a closer look at his stories, because I enjoyed this story and its ending.
- "The Embarrassment of Dead Grandmothers" by Sarah Lotz is an excellent and darkly humorous story about what happens when Steven's grandmother dies while they're at the theatre. Steven finds himself thinking of how to keep everybody from not noticing that his grandmother has died. I think that this story will especially appeal to those who love dark British humour.
- Josh Malerman's "The House of the Head" is definitely one of the best horror stories of the year. I find it satisfyingly strange and unsettling. The author writes well about Elvie May and how she feels about what she witnesses happening inside her dollhouse. The dollhouse turns from a normal children's dollhouse into a hellish playground for terrifying happenings. When you begin to read this story, you'll feel Elvie's concern for the family of dolls, the Smithsmiths, because she fears what may happen to them because of the head that has suddenly appeared inside the dollhouse. This story was so original and impressive that the author made his way to my must-read list.
Although I enjoyed all of the stories in this anthology and found them intriguing, the strongest story is without a doubt "Four Abstracts" by Nina Allan. It's such a haunting masterpiece of literary dark fiction that you can't help but be impressed and captivated by it. It's one of the best and most harrowing stories I've read this year. Stephen Gallagher's "Sherpherd's Business", Angela Slatter's "No Good Deed", Adam Nevill's "Eumenides (The Benevolent Ladies)", Josh Malerman's "The House of the Head" and Stephen Laws' "The Swan Dive" come as close seconds, because they're excellent and well written stories.
It was a real pleasure to read this anthology, because all of the stories are good in their own ways. I found the diversity of the stories enjoyable, because it was nice to read different kinds of stories. The atmosphere in these stories impressed me and made me devour them as quickly as possible, for I've always loved unsettling stories that cause genuine feelings of unease in the reader.
New Fears is a real treat to all horror readers who love atmospheric and unsettling stories, because it showcases how good, effective and original modern horror fiction can be at its best. Please, don't hesitate to read this gem of an anthology, but grab it immediately and treat yourself to a chilling and unsettling reading experience.