New Fears 2

Posted: October 27, 2021 in Book reviews, horror
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Edited by Mark Morris

Having read the first New Fears back in 2017, when I saw a follow up I quickly pounced. There are 21 stories so as I did with New Fears I’ll say a little about each of them. As usual with any anthology I enjoyed some stories more than others, but all were interesting and likely other readers might like some I didn’t and vice versa.

The book opens with Maw by Priya Sharma. A Shetland based folk horror, interesting environment and characters, but the horror was a little too nebulous for me.

Airport Gorilla by Stephen Volk is a trull horrific story, more so because it’s obviously based on fact (to an extent). Well written but not sure is in the best taste. The shooting down of an airplane is told from the perspective of a cuddly toy.

Thumbsucker by Robert Shearman is an unsettling tale of a character’s father’s extracurricular activities. Has the feel of Tales of the Unexpected about it, not to mention a very curious eroticism.

Bulb by Gemma Files has an interesting concept around technology and electricity but after a good start it didn’t really work for me.

Fish Hooks by Kit Power is a genuinely disconcerting story about a woman who starts seeing horrors in everyday life. Good story with a great dénouement

Emergence by Tim Lebbon is one of my favourites in the book, an excellent story involving a man who travels through a tunnel to what appears to be an alternate earth. Grim tale about inevitability, time travel and paradoxes.

On Cutler Street by Benjamin Percy,  a very brief story that didn’t make much of an impact on me.

Letters from Elodie by Laura Mauro, a young woman grieves for a woman she loved, it begins as one thing but by the end has morphed into something much more interesting than it initially appeared.

 Steel Bodies by Ray Cluley, this has an interesting premise about a ship graveyard in Africa but it didn’t grab me for some reason

Migrants by Tim Lewis, a story that intrigued, even though I’m not entirely sure what occurred. In an ordinary housing estate, a man is approached to escort a mysterious person from one house to another, apparently his neighbours have been doing this for a while.

Rut Seasons by Brian Hodge. A good story about a woman’s relationship with her aging parents, particularly her mother with whom she has a very fractious relationship.

Sentinel by Catriona Ward. Another aging mother, this time one determined to protect her daughter and granddaughter from a vengeful entity from the old country that’s followed them to America. An interesting story albeit one that didn’t deviate from an obvious conclusion.

Almost Aureate by V.H Leslie. A young father on holiday abroad becomes obsessed with a heavily tanned man he sees watching him from atop the hotel they’re staying at. An odd yet certainly unnerving tale.

The Typewriter by Rio Youers. A man buys an old typewriter with the intention of renovating it but he finds himself possessed by the spirit of it’s former owner. A well-worn tale but handled well which made it an interesting read.

Leaking Out by Brian Evenson.  A homeless man breaks into what he thinks is an empty house but finds someone is home after all, or rather something.

Thanatrauma by Steve Rasnic Tem. An old widower grieves for his lost wife while struggling to find meaning in life. Well written but another that didn’t grab me.

Pack Your Coat by Aliya Whiteley. A tale about viral stories, in particular an urban legend and the affect it has on one woman. A very interesting and well written tale, though I have to admit the ending let me down somewhat.

Haak by John Langan. Probably my favourite story in the entire collection and a great example of a story within a story (within a story?). A teacher recounts a tale to his students of how the writer Joseph Conrad encounters a mythical land after befriending a steamboat captain on a Swiss lake. An incredibly imaginative, fantastical tale that merges fact and fiction, mythology and horror, and the moment when I realised just where the mythical land was, was joyous. The book is worth if for this story alone.  

The Dead Thing by Paul Tremblay. There’s probably a decent story in here somewhere, but the stream of consciousness format with no paragraphs just several long unbroken blocks of text   interspersed with occasional text conversations, put me right off. A young girl struggles to protect her younger brother from a mysterious box he’s found

The sketch by Alison Moore. A woman in an unhappy marriage, possibly suffering from post-natal depression finds escape in an old sketch book from her teenage years before she gave up on her dreams.

Pigs Don’t Squeal in Tigertown by Bracken MacLeod, it’s debatable whether this is horror or thriller, but this story of a biker gang member travelling to a poorly maintained tiger park is certainly a fun read.

All in all a decent anthology with something for everyone…well, so long as they like horror.

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