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Dark Terrors 5: The Gollancz Book of Horror
edited by Stephen Jones and David Sutton
Victor Gollancz, 562 pages

Dark Terrors 5: The Gollancz Book of Horror
Stephen Jones
Stephen Jones is the winner of 2 World Fantasy Awards, the Horror Writers Association Bram Stoker Award and 2 International Horror Guild Awards, as well as being an 11-time recipient of the British Fantasy Award and a Hugo Award nominee. A full-time columnist, television producer/director and genre movie publicist and consultant, Stephen Jones is also one of Britain's most acclaimed anthologists of horror and dark fantasy. He has edited and written more than 50 books, including: Shadows Over Innsmouth; Exorcisms and Ecstasies, a Karl Edward Wagner collection; and Clive Barker's A-Z of Horror. He is co-editor of a number of series including Best New Horror, Dark Terrors and Dark Voices. He lives in London, England

Stephen Jones Website
ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: White of the Moon
SF Site Review: Dark of the Night

David Sutton
David Sutton (along with Stephen Jones) is the editor of the multiple award-winning series Dark Voices and Fantasy Tales.

ISFDB Bibliography

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Lisa Brunetta

Ah, horror -- I have a soft spot in my heart for it -- probably a spot that some characters in this anthology would find quite tasty, actually. I also enjoy the short story genre -- it's quick, to-the-point, no-messing-around enjoyment.

In this particular anthology, the stories are clever and well selected. I like that the author write-ups are at the end of each story as opposed to the beginning. Often I am so anxious to get to the story proper that I don't give the author précis the attention it deserves. With the write-ups at the end, I find them more useful. If I really enjoyed the story I just read I can make a note of the other works the author has produced for my future enjoyment. The bit where each author explains the origins of the story is great too -- it gives an otherwise generic blah-blah a personal touch.

On an artistic note, the skull dingbat icon that precedes each story is aptly chosen -- very spooky! I think the cover art is fabulous as well. It brings to mind those menacing, pasted-together ransom notes. The clenched teeth and tight half-smile make you uneasy. The vaguely human/reptilian/avian countenance echoes all the scary things that creep and crawl, swoop and scoot in the darkness.

I was going to write a mini-review of each story and to make up a one-line "catcher" for each one as well, but discovered that I don't have much to say for those stories that didn't grab me. So I'll do an overview of some of my favourites. Buckle up -- here we go!

"Barking Sands" by Richard Christian Matheson
-- Sacred places brook no violations...

This is the third story in the anthology, following two stories that didn't impress me. Just when I was getting frustrated I got to something good -- no, great! This is a true short story -- only four pages -- but I was blown away by its power. It has all the right stuff to make a good horror story -- a seemingly idyllic location is made menacing, the boy protagonist is disgusted and embarrassed by his family, and a sacred place is desecrated by unthinking boors -- ye gods, even feathers are scary in this story! I need to add Barking Sands Beach to the list of places I want to see before I die. Here's my favourite sentence: "Grampa reads the sign and keeps sprinkling snail napalm like a punctured can." It's at the end of a paragraph all in the same imagery -- you'll have to read the story to figure out what he's talking about, though.

"Now the Day Was Fled as the Worm Had Wished" by Brian Hodge
-- Tourists fall prey to English Heritage.

Now this is my kind of horror story. It has so many twists and turns that the ending is completely unexpected -- you even get a double whammy -- it's fabulous! The relationship between the three lead characters is also intriguing. It serves to flesh out the story considerably. I will definitely be reading more of this author. I am loath to say anything more about this one, as I wouldn't want to give anything away.

"The Girlfriends of Dorian Gray" by Gregory Frost
-- Too many cooks in the kitchen...

This one had me scurrying to my computer to look up the literary references. (I am not up to snuff on my Oscar Wilde or my Homer -- so sue me.) Do it if you must -- it makes the story all the more interesting. Briefly, the lead character finds a way to transfer his weight gain onto his unsuspecting girlfriends. Magics, spells and concoctions -- oh, my! I think women would be particularly horrified by this story -- unexplained weight gain would freak me out every time. Don't worry, ladies; he gets his in the end.

"Bottle Babies" by Mary A. Turzillo
-- Every child needs a little reining in now and again.

Mary A. Turzillo must not rest very easily, if she has such stories running through her mind. I was mesmerized by this story in the same kind of way I was once mesmerized by the wrecks towed into my father's auto body shop -- I can remember staring at the star-shaped explosions of glass on the driver's side window and marvelling at the dome shape in the middle, wondering if there were any bits of hair or odd stains inside the cars. I didn't necessarily want to look, I just had to.

There are fairies in this story -- small, deadly, menacing fairies, with sharp little wings and voices that can poach a dog's brain "like a swallow's egg." There are also two children, one who has spent his entire life in a large water bottle (folded and contorted -- his head is cone-shaped to fit the neck of the bottle) and another whose mother wishes to prune and shape her to an ideal form, like a bonsai tree. This story also led me to a rather bizarre search session on the Internet (it is really amazing what you can find) to look up all the various containment boxes discussed by these twisted parents. I was left with a bad taste in my mouth after this one -- congratulations, Ms. Turzillo.

"Honeysuckle" by William R. Trotter
-- Gardening with a capital "G"! AKA Don't mess with Mother Nature...

Mr. Trotter's story involves an author who becomes attracted to a mysterious garden paradise like a bee to honey, meets an enchanting woman and almost surrenders his life to her. This woman is a master of scent, and can make concoctions that will cure most ailments. Unfortunately, she can also make concoctions that can control and subdue a man. The author almost succumbs, but escapes at the last minute. He returns years later, only to fall prey to the gardening family and get potted. Intrigued? Read it -- it's a good one.

"Pelican Cay" by David Case
-- Some enemies are too small to battle.

Germ warfare has always been a scary concept for me, and this novella, the last instalment in the anthology, is an exceptional tale. It's great to have a longer work at the end -- I often get a hankering for some more substantial reading after I've read a bunch of short stories. This story takes place on a little island in the Florida Keys. Pelican Cay has been taken over. Legions of scientists and hard-looking men in suits have sectioned off a part of the island. The islanders come to town with strange stories of the goings-on behind the fences. The situation gets out of hand (wouldn't you be disappointed if it didn't?) and the test subjects escape the facility and contaminate the rest of the island. I recommend this story. An excellent finish to a satisfying anthology.

With the exception of a few duds, I had a great time with this book. If you're in the mood to get freaked out, spooked, frightened and creeped out, give it a try.

Copyright © 2001 Lisa Brunetta

Slave to the written word that she is, Lisa makes it a point to fit in reading time between working, taking care of her infant daughter, and making weird and wonderful things with stained glass and clay. Science fiction and fantasy are her poisons of choice (heavy on the fantasy).

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