“What scares you?” So begins Maberry’s introduction to this anthology of poetry and short stories by 22 authors, all members of the Horror Writers Association.
To answer this question, the anthology addresses a wide range of fears. Almost every story features a female protagonist, and Brenna Yovanoff’s “The Doomsday Glass,” Rachel Tafoya’s “The Invisible Girl,” and Kendare Blake’s “Chlorine-Damaged Hair, and Other Pool Hazards” speak to current fears about the vulnerability of young women and the sometimes-horrific repercussions of body shaming in a patriarchal society. For readers seeking more traditional ghost stories with a hint of melancholy, Rachel Caine’s “Corazón Oscuro,” Ilsa J. Bick’s “Bearwalker,” and Josh Malerman’s “Danny”—a few highlights of the anthology—employ restless, malevolent spirits. And for old-school horror fans, Steve Rasnic’s “The Boyfriend” and Christopher Golden’s “What Happens When the Heart Just Stops” contain nightmarish monsters, both literal and figurative, while R.L. Stine’s “The Old Radio” and Tim Waggoner’s “The Whisper-Whisper Men” are reminiscent of Twilight Zone episodes. The relevancy and scope of the themes presented are noteworthy and give the anthology broad appeal. However, the relative lack of diversity among main characters is both discouraging and outdated, depressingly representative of the current state of horror writing.
Not every story is good, or even scary, but the ones that are scary good will haunt readers long after closing the book, and at a whopping 498 pages, most readers will surely find something grisly to enjoy. (Anthology/horror. 13 & up)