Books by John Betancourt

Released: Oct. 5, 1993

Generous collections of horror stories, nearly all original, that comprise the fourth and fifth volumes of the publisher's Ultimate series (previous volumes, not reviewed, covered Dracula, Frankenstein, and werewolves). What makes these two ``ultimate'' is unclear—certainly not Philip JosÇ Farmer's querulous introduction to The Ultimate Witch, in which he decries the ``moronicity of anti-Satanists'' (Dennis Etchison does a far more sensible job of introducing the companion volume, displaying a tight grasp on zombie literature and films). It's not quite the authors either, although they're an impressive lot, emphasizing youthful talent: new stories from Kathryn Ptacek, Lois Tilton, Jonathan Bond, Nancy Holder, Tanith Lee, and others on witches, and from Rick Hautala, Geoffrey A. Landis, Brian Hodge, Alan Rodgers, and others on zombies. There are new stories by some bigger, older names, too (S.P. Somtow, Stuart M. Kaminsky, Karl Edward Wagner on witches; Robert Silverberg, John Brunner on zombies), but, not surprisingly, the biggest draws—Dean Koontz, Anne Rice, Ray Bradbury—are represented by old stories (with the Rice zombie-piece being, ironically, a reprint from The Witching Hour) (It's also interesting to note that stories by women—a fast-growing minority in the horror field—make up only five of the 23 zombie tales, but ten of the 25 witch tales.) Perhaps not the ultimate, then (The Book of the Dead, ed. by John Skipp and Craig Spector, 1989, outclasses this zombie collection)—but, still, two strong bets for horror fans. Read full book review >