Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Book Review: Werewolves and Shapeshifters edited by John Skipp

Werewolves and Shapeshifters
Edited by John Skipp
Black Dog & Leventhal Publishers

This is a must read for fans of horror fiction. John Skipp has done here something that editors always try to do when they do a theme anthology. If this is not the ultimate collection of shapeshifter stories I want to pointed to one that is better.

Featuring classics from as far back as Hp Lovecraft’s Shadow over innsmouth to 80’s classics by David Schow and George RR Martin. The collection goes from strength to strength with original stories from some of my favorites Cody Goodfellow and Jeremy Robert Johnson.

The biggest surprise for me was an amazing short story by YA author Tessa Gratton. “The Cold that Flays the Skin,” this is emotional wrecking ball of a short story that is effective in a very short word count. Cody Goodfellow’s bizarro post werewolf takeover vision of San Diego is both funny and twisted. Jeremy Robert Johnson’s tale is of life changing parasite, a running theme in the life of this author and a strong edition in the comeback of this hibernating dark bizarro author.

For me the highlights were gonzo 80’s blood drenched novellas by splatterpunk legend David Schow and George RR Martin’s classic Novella “The Skin Trade.” I read both a long ago but I am realizing now I was too young and not cultured enough to get every level these tales were operating on.

Martin’s Skin Trade is excellent modern noir tale with a detective, haunted houses, werewolf cults and it’s all blood soaked as 80’s horror tended to be at the time. Skipp calls it the centerpiece of the collection and yes it is a must read classic.

I really want to hand it to Black Dog for working with Skipp on these books, they are not just another anthology. These are important documents of horror that track the evolution of the genre as well as highlight the bold new work coming out of the genre. Big thumbs up, get this book on your shelf.

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