If you’re wondering about the title of this book then you’re probably not familiar with the seminal story by William Hope Hodgson “The Voice in the Night” and all the subsequent works of horror and SF where fungi, mould, mushrooms and yeasts had a pivotal role (for an exhaustive list see the appendix at the end of the present volume). Editors Orrin Grey and Silvia Moreno Garcia must be congratulated upon their excellent and original idea of assembling a hefty collection of twenty-six stories along that line, mostly constituted by brand new tales.
John Langan sets the tone with “Hyphae,” a terrific and terrifying piece where a man goes back home to find his father transformed into a living horror. Kristopher Reisz provides “The Pilgrims of Parthen” a SF tale about hallucinogen mushrooms able to transport people to an imaginary city belonging to an alien world.
Jane Henterstein’s “Wild Mushrooms” is the affectionate diary written by the daughter of a couple of Czech immigrants whose life was deeply marked by some odd mushrooms.
The superb “Our Stories Will Live Forever” by Paul Trembley painstakingly depicts the events occurring during a doomed air flight and the helpful involvement of mysterious mushrooms while “Go Home Again” by Simon Strantzas effectively describes how the mould infesting an old family house triggers painful memories and discloses unspeakable secrets from the past.
Ian Rogers contributes “Out of the Blue,” an entertaining supernatural noir where a fast-spreading mould plays a major role and Nick Mamatas pens an accomplished, well crafted tale of witchcraft and supernatural horror set in an entirely urban context.
Another excellent story well worth a special mention is “Dust From a Dark Flower” by Daniel Mills. It’s an extremely creepy tale where a destructive rot attacks both graveyard and population of a small village (also a physical allegory of spiritual corruption?)
Next time you’re taking a stroll in the woods if you happen to find some mushrooms just turn around and go the other way…