Pros: Some good stories
Cons: Some so-so stories
Rating: 3 out of 5
Supernatural Tales 40: Summer 2019 is a collection of seven short horror stories. It’s tough to find really good multi-author anthologies, because the odds that the editor’s tastes will line up with the reader’s aren’t 100%. On the other hand, sometimes an anthology is a good way to find new authors you might not have heard of before.
A couple of these stories have a problem that I’ve noticed in some horror in particular–they end too soon. I want just a little more satisfaction at the end, just a moment or two’s additional context. This is the case for Laura Lucas’s Sargasso, which is an intriguing story of a woman who only comes home to her husband one day a week, and never speaks. It’s also the case for Jane Jakeman’s Mortimer: The Husband’s Story. It ends right when many stories would be just beginning. It’s about a man who’s fed up with his wife’s childlike attachment to her stuffed dog. There’s also a bizarre interlude of dinner with some friends of theirs who have something go terribly wrong, but this almost seemed like it belonged to a different story.
Tracy Fahey’s Inside Out is a little too straightforward to me. A woman’s horrible mother finally dies of cancer, only Ciara isn’t as free as she thinks she is. There’s nothing unusual or unexpected in here. Mark Valentine’s Red Lion Rising just never caught hold of me.
S.P. Miskowski’s Legends of Claudia is the most interesting story in the book. The basic story about a young woman who is intrigued by her cousin’s wild ways is emotionally engaging, and the details that follow are fascinating. When I picked up the anthology it was cheap enough that it was worth it for this story. The other story that made it worthwhile was Helen Grant’s Atmospheric Disturbances. Rob, a naturalist working on a distant island, notes a bright light and a loud sound in the middle of the night. The next day, fearing the worst, he goes to check on the local military base, only to find it abandoned, occupied only by a radio which is the only working electrical item there. It’s a simple, fantastic apocalyptic tale.
This is a so-so anthology, but depending on your budget it might be worth reading for the Miskowski and Grant entries alone. Lucas’s story is interesting as well.