Monday, February 21, 2022

Manzetti, 150 Exquisite Horror Books (2021)

Alessandro Manzetti, 150 Exquisite Horror Books. Crystal Lake Publishing, 2021. Pp. 210. ISBN 978-1-7377-2187-1. $11.99.

Reviewed by Rachel Verkade

There is an art to creating a “Best of” list, whether that be a “Best of Shakespeare’s Plays” or “Best Singles by Take That.” You are inevitably going to make a lot of people angry. Art and tastes are subjective, and one man’s trash is another person’s treasure. And nowhere is this more true than with horror fiction. Fears are as individual as fingerprints. The film or book that terrify us and make chills run down our spine might make be utterly dull to another. And we horror fans are desperately protective of our best beloveds. I have seen knock-down drag-out fights between fans who can’t agree whether Matthew Stokoe’s Cows is trash or a masterpiece. So creating a volume in which you want to compile the best of modern horror fiction is a bit of a risky endeavour. Fortunately for all of us, Alessandro Manzetti decided to take on the challenge, and he took it on with grace, courage, and a library I can only dream of possessing.

Monday, February 14, 2022

Brozek & Rambo, Reinvented Heart (2022)

Jennifer Brozek & Cat Rambo (edd.), The Reinvented Heart. Caezik SF & Fantasy, 2022. Pp. 274. ISBN 978-1-6471-0042-1. $34.14/£21.01.

Reviewed by M.L. Clark

Sometimes an anthology is just a really good excuse to sit with strong and wide-ranging storytelling. Such was certainly the case with The Reinvented Heart, a collection of 24 stories centered on a wide range of emotional bonds, challenges, and opportunities. Across the board, the writing was deft and immersive, the stories were distinct and memorable, and many worked in striking conversation with their neighbours. The organization of this collection into three overarching “movements”—”Hearts,” “Hands,” and “Minds,” each opening with a small but potent bit of poetry by Jane Yolen, and revealing plenty of resonant story placements—also makes for an excellently curated reading experience, best read in the provided order. My only caveat, before I leap into high praise for the pieces themselves, is that I don’t think all of these stories reflect the anthology’s explicit mission statement. Then again, an anthology is often expected to carve out a singular role for itself in the market, and promotional material often makes sweeping claims to bring readers in.

Monday, February 07, 2022

Parrish, Trenchcoats, Towers and Trolls (2022)

Rhonda Parrish (ed.), Trenchcoats, Towers, and Trolls: Cyberpunk Fairy Tales. World Weaver Press, 2022. Pp. 240. ISBN 978-1-7340-5455-2. $15.95 pb/$4.99 e.

Reviewed by Lisa Timpf

In Trenchcoats, Towers, and Trolls, the third and last in the “Punked Up Fairy Tales” series, which also includes Grimm, Grit, and Gasoline and Clockwork, Curses, and Coal, Rhonda Parrish brings together twelve cyberpunk tales in a collection that is both engrossing and thought-provoking. Edmonton, Alberta-based anthologist and author Parrish is no newcomer to the anthology game: she has edited a number of other themed collections, including one about swashbuckling cats and an “Elemental Anthologies” series.