Edited by John Kenny
Publisher: Aeon Press
By Brian M. Sammons
I love the short story format when it comes to terror tales and so I’m always reading a lot of horror anthologies. Usually they have a theme behind them: vampires, zombies, psychos, the Cthulhu Mythos, future horror, past horror, etc. So I was quite surprised by a little book I got in for review called Box of Delights. First, because I just wasn’t expecting it. Now normally I don’t cover books that arrive to me unsolicited as I just simply don’t have enough hours in the day to read them all. But this one stood out after I looked at the back cover synopsis because it sounded like a collection of horror stories and that’s all. No theme, no premise, just seventeen horror stories and that’s it. And hey, I like horror stories, so despite all my other reading commitments, I added this one to the queue.
And I was not disappointed.
To be sure, not every story hit home with me. In fact there was one I didn’t like at all. But that’s to be expected with a mixed Box of Delights like this. Thankfully I did find the majority of these tales yummy, so for me that puts this book solidly in the win category. As an added nice surprise, some fine stories were by authors I was not familiar with before, and I love finding new writers for me to keep an eye open for. While there were many good selections to choose from in this Box, favorites of mine included Steve Rasnic Tem’s “The Ex”, one of the shortest stories in the book and yet one of the best. That’s a rarity for me, as I usually like my horror with more on the bones, but this tiny treat was very satisfying. Another quick hit of horror that I really dug was “The Horizontal Door” by Sean MacRoibin that brings the book to the close. Saving the best for last? Well I’ll let you decide that for yourself. I’ll just say that I really liked it. I can easily say the same for Don D’Ammassa’s “Farm on the Down” which was a delight if just for that playful title alone, as was the little slice of crazy that was “Box of Rocks” by John F.D. Taff. There are other winners to be found in the Box of Delights, but I’ve said enough. Nice surprises are always welcome and this book is full of them.
So if you’re looking for a Whitman’s Sampler of terror tales then you should really give this Irish import a try. You can get it directly from the publisher’s website here: http://www.albedo1.com/aeonpress.html or at your favorite online bookstore like Amazon for your favorite eReader. That is, as long as it can read Kindle books. It’s well worth the price and a refreshing breath of chilly darkness sure to Delight any horror fan. Consider it recommended.