Edited By Mark Morris
Published by Titan Books, 2017
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Reading anthologies is a lot like eating a bag of Starbursts. You know your favorite flavors, and you resist eating those first. There’re some less savory flavors, but you eat them anyway because the experience is short, and, ultimately, it’s serving to satisfy your sweet tooth. And, if it this bag of candy is anything like New Fears, edited by Mark Morris with some of the best names in modern horror, you’re going to feel a little sick to your stomach after consuming it all.
New Fears is a unique anthology in that its purpose is not to be centered around a specific theme, per se, but rather to collect a set of stories to give you new things to be frightened about. And, for all intents and purposes, this anthology accomplishes its goals. The stories range from folkloric tales of mischievous creatures, to child abductions by way of obscured hell dimensions, to the realistic horror of mass shootings. Each author has a unique voice that brings these new terrors to the table, some with comedic tinges, some with full blown horror straight in your face. The diverse themes, perspectives, and tone of this anthology make it a true delight to read.
I enjoyed a majority of the stories in this book. “The Boggle Hole” by Alison Littlewood opens this anthology and brought me back to my days of binging Are You Afraid of the Dark as a child (and, let’s face it, an adult as well). The whimsical tone of this story made the unnerving nature of the story even more exciting to read. A few other standouts include Stephen Gallagher’s “Shepherd’s Business”, a truly disturbing story that sticks with you long after you finish the final sentences. “Dollies” by Kathryn Ptacek was chilling in its innocence; Christopher Golden’s “The Abduction Door” has a horrifying cinematic quality to it. And still, though many of these stories creep into your mind, grabbing hold tight and notching up your paranoia, others imbued humor to provide levity between haunts. I’m looking at you “The Embarrassment of Dead Grandmothers” by Sarah Lotz, the funniest (yet still dark) story in this book.
There were a few stories that I did not enjoy as much as others, but that’s to be expected in an anthology, especially one like this with such a wide variety of authors, themes, and tones. The stories that were less memorable tended to end ambiguously, without identifying the “fear” as concretely as in other stories. Still though, even these stories were successful in creating an atmosphere as dread, and none halted the procession of the book.
This anthology is one of the best I’ve read so far. Mark Morris has compiled a hard-hitting, fun, and terrifying anthology with New Fears. The authors included in this collection are some of the greatest voices of horror we have. This was a great way to learn about new wonderful authors, including many female horror writers I’m excited to follow. I highly recommend this book to genre fans, and I cannot wait to read the second installment coming later this year.