Sunday, September 6, 2009

Book Review: Dark Delicacies III

Dark Delicacies III: haunted
Edited by Del Howison and Jeff Gelb
Running Press 336 pages (hardcover)

In the 80's there were several anthologies that mostly edited by Charles Grant such as Night Visions and Shadows that could be counted on for the best new short horror fiction. Both anthologies had several editions and Night Visions may have made it into the dozens. I hope we are seeing Dark Delicacies take that position in the horror fiction scene. Named after the amazing horror bookstore (well they sell all kinds of horror goodies)in LA owned by the series Co-editor Del Howison. Del's store is a required stop for any of the big names in horror so who better than Del to put together a high class anthology. Del is doing an amazing job of making a brand besides the store and anthologies there is also now a Dark Delicacies comic book as well.

The second book was themed Fear and this one is Haunted. A unoffcial theme is the one life of writer which comes up in several of the stories. The collection includes several huge names from science fiction writer Kevin J Anderson, Richard Christian Matheson, Chuck Palahniuk,Heather Graham, Gary Braunbeck, Simon Clark, David Morrell and Clive Barker while sorta.

This book is amazing so lets get my only real big problem with the book out of the way. The first volume of this series had a great short story by Clive Barker. It was his first return to the form I think he has most excelled at, the short story. When I first saw his name I drooled at the idea of of new Clive Barker short story. Well contain yourself Clive's name is on the book but all you get is a page with a poem on it. I mean it's a fine poem but come on! Time for a cold shower Barker fans.

Some other interesting notes, Michel Boatman best known as the black gay guy on Spin city has short story in here. Yep he is writer of horror fiction as well as an actor. I wasn't into the subject of his story but his writing was good enough that I will seek out his novel. Eric Red who wrote the screenplays for the original Hitcher and Near Dark writes a a stand-out called “in the mix.” Del also manages to use his LA location to attract a new hollywood filmmakers to donate some prose to cause of horror fiction.

The introduction was provided by Wings actor Steven Weber, who I think is a better actor than he is given credit. I'll forgive him for writing the criminally awful episode of Masters of Horror that was Argento's Jenifer. Victor Salva, known for the Jeepers Creepers films and Mick Garris known for 500 different Stephen King films and TV Movies both crafted excellent stories. Salva's creepy WW II tale was one I enjoyed also if for no other reason than the change in setting.

Richard C. Matheson's short but funny tale 'How to Edit' explores a nightmare many authors have, the inability to stop editing and refining. The stand out tale of this book is the closing novella by David Morrell (First Blood,Brotherhood of the Rose) . I am on record all over my blog with my love for the novels of David Morrell. His short stories are generally more horror than his novels and he had written some amazing ones in the past. This a very different piece for Morrell who is not known for the kinda sentimentality that many writers overdue. The not so subtle love for the good old days or the spirit and energy of a time is not Morrell's MO.

Morrell is known for quick paced action plots, page turning thrill rides. Morrell's Architecture of Snow is sweet sentimental tale that is at it's heart is not very horrific. It does play with the theme of being haunted, and again explores the writer's soul. It's the best story in the collection, and it sits at the ass end of the book with good reason. As devoted fan of Morrell I found myself consistently impressed with how far out his comfort zone the man was writing.

Jeff Gelb and Del Howison have done a wonderful thing for the horror anthology in the last few years bringing back very high artistic standards to the genre. We have hundreds of slapped together DIY horror collections getting released each year. That is not a bash on the small press anthologies which I have been a part of, it's simply my belief that we need a cream of the crop in this genre. If you are looking for high class horror – you have three volumes of Dark Delicacies to choose from.

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