The Seventh Black Book of Horror
Edited by Charles Black
Trace Paperback, 215 pages, £5.50
Review by Mario Guslandi
By now an established treat for horror fiction lovers, Charles Black’s anthologies continue to offer reading material of consistently good quality, attracting contributions by the most distinguished among today’s dark fiction writers. The seventh volume in this excellent series features seventeen original tales of terror, extremely varied in terms of themes and narrative styles.
Once again, the average quality is remarkable and even though, admittedly, not every story therein appeals to this reviewer, the large majority fulfilled my thirst for solid, creepy horror fiction.
Reggie Oliver and John Llewellyn Probert, two rising stars in the british horror scene, confirm their uncommon qualities as storytellers. The former provides the outstanding “Minos or Rhadamanthus” depicting the last, unearthly encounter between an old, stern headmaster and one of his pupils, while the latter pens “It Begins at Home,” a nasty piece where a young, penniless photographer learns the facts of life the hard way.
“Flitching’s Revenge” by Gary Power is an extremely enjoyable piece about a curse befalling all the men responsible for the death of an innocent gypsy. The nice twist in the tail adds further charm to the story.
Much as I may be used to zombie tales I found David A Riley’s “Romero’s Children” as scary as hell with its final paragraphs oozing pure, malevolent horror. “The Green Bath” is yet another of Paul Finch’s powerful dark stories, featuring a young couple renting a villa haunted by a sexy, vampiric creature.
In “Swell Head” Stephen Volk masterfully describes the life-long relationship between a farmer and his freak brother, while in the subtly disquieting “Telling” Steve Rasnic Tem discloses the hidden secrets of a haunted house.
“The In-Betweeners” by Tony Richards is an offbeat tale of urban horror where the city becomes the venue of strange encounters involving groups of pale, threatening teenagers lurking behind the street corners.
Other contributors to the volume are: Thana Niveau, Joel Lane, David Williamson, Rog Pile, Alex Langley, Anna Taborska, James Stanger, Claude Lalumiére and Craig Herbertson.