OR: Scaremongers

A review that originally appeared in Maelstrom #9:-

Scaremongers edited by Andrew Haigh. Published by Tanjen. ‘B’ format paperback, 280pp, £6.99.

Legend has it that short story collections without a theme are notoriously difficult to place with publishers, though as the success of Nicholas Royle’s Darklands anthology would seem to prove, they have no qualms about climbing on board once the bandwagon is well and truly rolling. Independent publishers Tanjen then are to be congratulated for supporting this project, royalties from which are to be divided among three animal welfare charities.

Editor Andrew Haigh, whose name might be familiar to some by virtue of his illustrations in Peeping Tom and other magazines, has put together a collection of twenty four stories and one poem. Contributors include some of the most prestigious names in horror fiction, people like Ray Bradbury, Ramsey Campbell, Poppy Z. Brite, Dennis Etchison, Simon Clark, and Stephen Gallagher, plus a few who will only be known to those, such as myself, who trawl the pages of small magazines like Maelstrom.

As well as raising money for good causes this beautifully produced volume serves as an advertisement for the horror genre itself, a sort of state of the art address as the millennium approaches. And the overwhelming impression you are left with after reading the book is one of abundant good health and variety. This is not a collection aimed at a particular market niche, but one that celebrates the genre’s diversity. All tastes are catered for within its pages, from the blood and gore of Brite’s Self Made Man to the subtle effects of Different Now by Michael Marshall Smith, from the atmospheric Cat and Mouse by Campbell to the pitch black comedy of Rhys Hughes’ The Purloined Liver, from the eroticism of Cleo Cordell’s The Witch Mark to the eerie feel of The Plans They Made by Joel Lane. Chances are if you enjoy storytelling that’s a little bit out of the ordinary then you’ll find plenty that will appeal in this collection.

Go on. Be good to yourself and be nice to animals at the same time. Buy the book.

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