BOOK REVIEW: House of Fear

I think it was Isaac Asimov who said that writing short stories is harder than writing novels, as with a novel you have space to build your characters, amplify the plot and create a believable world, but short stories have to do all this in just a few lines and good short stories can be far and few between.

In House of Fear, Jonathan Oliver has gathered nineteen short horror stories by both horror and science fiction authors who have all excelled in creating believable tales with well fleshed inhabitants and worlds that could well be our own.  Each and every story will give you that delightful frisson of fear, and yet all are without a single vampire within them.

Each story is given a short introduction on how each author was selected and the anthology includes:

  • Lisa Tuttle’s powerful story of a divorced couple who unfortunately finally find their dream home.
  • Stephen Volk supplies a ghost story with a difference.
  • Terry Lamsley creates a urban horror, where reality is twisted.
  • Weston Ochse successfully combines American Indian legends and children with the Milky Way.
  • Rebecca Levene provides a supernatural prison story.
  • Garry Killworth shows that science fiction is not the only type of story he can write, producing a ‘who dun it’ detective story with a difference.
  • Chaz Brenchley shows how the dead can continue to haunt us.
  • Robert Shearman combines God and the Garden of Eden with modern life.
  • Christopher Fowler creates an urban legend combined with ghosts and an injustice.
  • Sarah Pinborough has a ghost story in a seaside town.
  • Paul Meloy shows us a campsite with a difference. Christopher Priest produced a widow’s tale with a difference.
  • Jonathan Green, perhaps better know for his steam punk, creates a gruesome story of happy families.
  • Nicholas Royle’s tale is of a house with many rooms and multiple secrets.
  • Eric Brown, also well known for his SciFi, has produced a chilling story of an author haunted by his dead wife.

While all the stories have been produced by masters of the genre, my favourites must be Adam G.L. Nevill’s Florrie which is so vivid and so well told, I had something I’ve never had before, a nightmare based on horror story. In it, a young man finally finds a home of his own, only to tragically learn that the previous inhabitant has prior call on not just the home, but himself as well.

Next I would recommend Nina Allan’s The Muse of Copenhagen, where she combines Danish mythology with supernatural horror, when a man learns of his uncle’s indiscretions and his aunt’s frightening origins.  And finally Joe R. Lansdale’s What Happened to Me, which combines Greek mythology with modern life convincingly portraying the last of a race of Elders and what happens when they join with a little girl.

All in all this is and excellent book for those who truly love horror, but I would suggest that you don’t read it just before you go to sleep.  I give this book 5 out of 5.

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