Viola (Luna One, 2014, etc.) amasses a series of blistering horror stories, including a few of his own, from authors who tell of vampires, demons, killers, and things better left hidden in the dark.
Steve Rasnic Tem opens this collection with “The Brollachan,” a Lovecraft-ian narrative in which a creature’s evil may live on through its lineage. The stories here are largely traditional with contemporary touches. Some take familiar setups in unexpected directions. In the post-apocalyptic world of Stephen Graham Jones’ “The Man Who Killed Texas,” for example, a guy makes a harrowing decision to protect the Lone Star State from a plague; and humankind survives an alien invasion in Mario Acevedo’s “Zôu Gôu” only to discover that the horror may not be over. Others play with the relative safety of modern settings: a golfing buddy disappears from a golf course in Sean Eads’ “Lost Balls,” while the office Christmas party in J.V. Kyle’s (a pseudonym for Viola and Keith Ferrell) “Bathroom Break” takes a ghastly turn. The prose is consistently outstanding, and there isn’t a single dud here. A few stories, however, do stand above the rest. Ferrell’s Poe-esque “Be Seated” turns a simple chair into a macabre entity; Jason Heller’s “The Projectionist” features a beast that’ll make readers quiver or queasy or a little of both; and in Viola’s “The Librarian,” a man who checks out and returns the same six library books every week isn’t even the eeriest part of the tale. A couple of stories are predominantly tongue-in-cheek: there’s a vampire curious about a batch of especially delicious victims (Kyle’s “Fangs”), and guess what stoners do with a magic lamp in Acevedo’s “Gurgle. Gurgle.”? All 20 stories, disconcerting in their own ways, leave impressions individually as well as collectively. Illustrations from artist Lovett[b1] —searing images that look as if they’ve been etched in stone and spattered with blood—precede each story.
A slew of gloriously disturbing, well-told tales to unnerve readers.