Edited by Charles Black

Reviewed by Mario Guslandi

A tribute to the famous horror anthologies of the past, such as The Pan Book of Horror Stories and The Fontana Book of Great Horror Stories, the present volume endeavours to continue a tradition still dear to the heart of any horror fiction lover.

The scope is commendable and the results fair enough, even though only a few stories manage to avoid the ever present pitfalls of the genre and to provide good reading stuff.

Editor Charles Black--who contributes the smart, entertaining To Summon a Flesh Eating Demon - has assembled eighteen tales ranging from the macabre and the supernatural to terror and witchcraft.

Some of the contributions sadly miss the target, but others stand out as accomplished examples of dark fiction.

Among the ones worth a special mention is Regina vs. Zoskia by the talented Mark Samuels, a Kafkaesque tale featuring a law firm engaged in a mysterious, never ending case where too many issues are at stake.

Gary Fry probes the secrets of old age in The Older Man, a deceiving story reminiscent of Ramsey Campbell's classic atmospheres, while DF Lewis provides Shaped Like a Snake, a vaguely menacing piece hinting at forgotten, ancient horrors.

In David Sutton's Only in Your Dreams childhood terrors and adulthood horrors blend in a deeply disquieting narrative.

Paul Finch contributes The Wolf at Jessie's Door, another strong, vivid tale written with his usual steady, gripping style.

Family Fishing by Gary McMahon is a cruel, masterful story exploring the secrets of a family tradition apt to haunt a man's entire life.

To me the highlight of the volume is the superb “Shalt Thou Know My Name?” by Daniel McGachey, a creepy, upsetting tale of witchcraft and haunting with a vaguely Jamesian taste.

All in all, at the end of the book many readers will remain with the pleasant taste of nostalgia, having discovered once again the flavour of the glorious anthologies which have been upsetting their dreams so many nights in the past and with a hunger for more. So do I, hoping that Mr Black will produce a second, similar anthology very soon.

The Black Book of Horror edited by Charles Black. Mortbury Press paperback, 298pp, £10. Available from various online outlets, including Amazon UK

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