Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Horror Library Volume 4 Ed. by R.J. Cavender

R.J. Cavender and Cutting Block Press have done it again! Just when you think that you've found a horror anthology that outshines the rest (see THL V.3), Cavender and Co. come blasting out of the woodwork with another volume in their Horror Library series that is brimming with incredible talent, and some of the most unsettling stories you've yet to read.

The Horror Library - Volume 4 compiles 29 incredible stories, none of which miss their mark, landing only clear, brutal hits at break-neck speed. Here we've got some returning faces (Jeff Strand, Bentley Little, etc.), some newcomers, and one very peculiar instance where an author actually has 2 stories present (Lorne dixon with Ash Wednesday and Continuity). And like I said, every single one hits their mark, leaving the reader fully satisfied, and craving for more short fiction from Cutting Block Press and The Horror Library series.

Stand outs include:

A Very Important Message for Those Planning to Travel to Costa Rica by R.J. Cavender & Boyd Harris - kicks us off right with a well told story (in 2nd person) detailing the perils of traveling to a foreign country alone. This story is incredibly unsettling, and sets the creepy and terrifying pace for what is yet to come.

Into The After by Kurt Dinan - is a wicked tale told in the aftermath of 9/11, that begins and almost ends as a heartwrenching supernatural tale, and then wallops the reader over the head with a twist so brutal, that it's actually hard not to react.

Flicker by Lee Thomas - is an unusual and very dark story about snuff film actors that are forced (but not truly forced) to perform time and time again. It's great in that it forces the mind into suspending disbelief just enough in order to be able to accept some truly disturbing ideas.

Jammers by Bentley Little - tells us the real truth about traffic jams, and what goes on at the front of the pack. This story is all kinds of creepy, starting (and flowing along) with a very uneasy feeling, and ending with enough of a kick to get you back up to speed with the following stories.

I Am Vision, I Am Death by Erik Williams - is a wicked little story about two people sharing the same consciousness, and the repercussions of such. I absolutely loved the sheer blackness of this story, as it proves itself to be very descriptive, and horror-TV-show-pilot material, but on a new level.

Lorne Dixon has two entries in this volume, first with Ash Wednesday - a phenomenal story about a crew of firefighters who go into a burning asylum to save an infamous Cult leader, only to end up in a formulaic, but well pulled off twist ending; and second with Continuity - which tells the story of a crew of filmmakers that collectively see more than what appears on screen. This one was great too, with hilarious, yet scary scenes, involving some long dead actors.

And as my final offering, I give you - The Healing Hands of Reverend Wainwright by Geoffrey L. Mudge - whose story about a traveling preacher takes all sorts of twists and turns that leave the reader questioning everything, and drops an ending that just begs the question: "Why haven't I read Mudge's work before?"

While The Horror Library: Volume 4 doesn't completely outshine it's predecessor, it sure does live up to the spirit of the series. Granted, Volume 3 was the first one I'd read, but having checked out Volume 4 now, I'm satisfied to say that this is a premiere horror anthology series for assorted tales. The stories chosen are incredible, the editor obviously shows his love for - and knowledge of - short horror fiction, and the quality of the books is way above standard.

As I've said before, you won't be disappointed by this purchase.

Volume 1, 2, 3 and 4 are also available at Cutting Block Press' website, and on Amazon.com. Look out for Volume 5 in 2011. As far as I can tell (as of writing this review), CBP is still accepting submissions for the 5th volume.

PBH.

2 comments:

  1. Great review.

    I'm going to snap this up.

    Enjoying your blog.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks so much for the kind and thoughtful review! Long Live Paperback Horror!

    R.J.

    ReplyDelete