Edited by William Meikle
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Although this is a charity anthology, don’t be misled into thinking any of the stories are castoffs. From writers like Tim Lebbon, Simon Kurt Unsworth, Steven Savile, Steve Lockley, John Shirley, Anna Taborska, Stephen James Price, Scott Nicholson, Stephen Laws, Nancy Kilpatrick, Barbie Wilde, Johnny Mains, Guy N. Smith, Pete Crowther, Steve Duffy, William Meikle and Gary McMahon, that just isn’t going to happen. There isn’t a second rate story here.
And, though cancer is an underlying theme, there is a great variety in what we are offered, from true physical horror, science fiction, and fantasy, to psychological horror of a high order.
Indeed, for me the highlight of the collection is a psychological horror story. Photographs of Boden by Simon Kurt Unsworth is a gem that would shine out in any anthology. Boden’s memories of himself, his character, and his past history, are undermined as family photographs are corrupted by some unknown force. Or are they? In his memories it was always his sister who managed to spoil every family event with her selfishness, endlessly arguing and sulking over everything that didn’t suit her own wishes. Subtly, though, their roles appear to be being reversed, not only now, but at every event that Boden can remember. Even his own memories become corrupted by this metamorphosis. It is a frightening story, undermining the past – and the present. It’s a story that has lingered with me ever since.
Polyp by Barbie Wilde is another standout story. Crazy, gut wrenchingly horrible, it is one of the wackiest tales I have read in a long while.
Pete Crowther’s Cankerman, on the other hand, is a story of loss and self sacrifice, and is touchingly poignant. The Cankerman is a horrific creation, genuinely the stuff of nightmares, but sometimes the human spirit – and love – can face up to and challenge, if not totally defeat even the worst thing that can be thrown at us.
Johnny Mains is well known for his over the top horrors, often written with a blood-soaked tongue in his cheek. The Cure is surely one of his most horrible yet, a strange story of what could be described as medical malpractice taken to its nth degree. I can guarantee you won’t forget this one easily.
Though these are my own particular favourites, there are plenty of others that are almost as good, which other readers would probably like even more.
All profits from this book will go to the Beatson Cancer Research Institute.