Launching a speculative fiction imprint with a lavish hardback horror anthology is a bold move, so good on Jo Fletcher Books for doing exactly that. Jo Fletcher is one of the most respected publishers in the sf field;, after many years at Gollancz, she has now joined Quercus to launch her own imprint. A Book of Horrors is the second book to be published under the Fletcher banner, a set of fifteen brand new stories, which I’ll be reviewing on here one at a time.
The book’s editor, Stephen Jones, sets out his stall in an introduction:
These days our bloodsuckers are more likely to show their romantic nature, werewolves work for covert government organisations, phantoms are private investigators and the walking dead can be found sipping tea amongst the polite society of a Jane Austen novel.
These are not the iconic figures of fear and wonder that we grew up with. These are not the Creatures of the Night that have scared multiple generations over the centuries and forced countless small children to hide under the bedclothes reading their books and comics by torchlight.
With A Book of Horrors we hope that we have lived up to that title and all that it implies.
Well, let’s find out. Here are the stories Jones has selected:
- Stephen King, ‘The Little Green God of Agony’
- Caitlín R. Kiernan, ‘Charcloth, Firesteel and Flint’
- Peter Crowther, ‘Ghosts with Teeth’
- Angela Slatter, ‘The Coffin-Maker’s Daughter’
- Brian Hodge, ‘Roots and All’
- Dennis Etchison, ‘Tell Me I’ll See You Again’
- John Ajvide Lindqvist, ‘The Music of Bengt Karlsson, Murderer’
- Ramsey Campbell, ‘Getting it Wrong’
- Robert Shearman, ‘Alice Through the Plastic Sheet’
- Lisa Tuttle, ‘The Man in the Ditch’
- Reggie Oliver, ‘A Child’s Problem’
- Michael Marshall Smith, ‘Sad, Dark Thing’
- Elizabeth Hand, ‘Near Zennor’
- Richard Christian Matheson, ‘Last Words’
Certainly there are some excellent writers on that list; I look forward to seeing what chills they supply in this book.