Ellen Datlow, Editor
Ash-Tree Press e-books $8.99
Review by Mario Guslandi
First published in 1996 under the title Lethal Kisses, the present anthology represents one of the many accomplishments of famous and prolific horror editor Ellen Datlow.
Truth be told, it would have been a shame if the book, formerly appeared only in the UK, had failed to reach a wider audience or, worse, had fallen into oblivion. Devoted to the theme of vengeance, the volume, as customary with Datlow’s work, assembles a bunch of good quality stories by a group of distinguished authors such as Pat Cadigan, AR Morlan, Caitlin R Kiernan,David J Schow, Jonathan Lethem, Michael Swanwick & Jack Dann, Richard Christian Matheson, and Michael Cadnum. But, being a spoiled reader and reviewer, I’m not satisfied with just the good stuff, I want much more. And I’m happy to tell that the anthology also features many excellent stories.
“A Grub Street Tale” by Thomas Tessier is a tale of revenge where the supernatural, imbued with eroticism, gradually enters an apparently normal conversation about a suicidal, minor writer.
In “Back in the Dunes,” Terry Lamsley, here at his best, conveys a growing sense of horror as the chilling reality of a forgotten past returns to make the culprit pay his dues.
Joyce Carol Oates contributes “Leave Me Alone, God Damn You,” a perceptive, masterful analysis of the difficulties in the relationships between man and woman.
“Butcher’s Logic” by Roberta Lannes is a cruel and vivid portrait of family life, full of disquieting shadows of violence and racism, while “Rare Promise” by Mike O’Driscoll is an engrossing tale about a web of complex relationships between friends, cousins and relatives, at the bottom of which lies an unspeakable secret.
Douglas Clegg provides “O, Rare and Most Exquisite” a gentle, delightful story blending horror and eroticism, where an old gardener reminisces about his love affairs and some peculiar flowers.
In “Unforgotten” Christopher Fowler unearths the dark secretes buried under an old London building. Historical and fictional facts merge perfectly to form an unsettling tableau.
Finally, a real standout, Michael Marshall Smith’s “Foreign Bodies” an extraordinary mystery with a supernatural side, endowed with the eerie atmosphere of a classical Hitchcock movie.
If you are willing to spend a few bucks and are prepared to read an e-book, you’re strongly advised not to miss a great opportunity to savor a lot of great dark fiction.