WOMEN OF DARKNESS by Kathryn--Ed. Ptacek


Email this review


An affirmative-action horror collection noteworthy more for its concept than its content. As editor Ptacek (Shadoweyes, Blood Autumn, Kachina, etc.) explains in her introduction, the ""curious"" absence of women writers in most horror collections inspired her to redress that imbalance through this anthology of 20 new horror tales by a score of women writers. A noble gesture; but since fewer than 20 established women writers till the horror field, Ptacek is forced to include tales by unseasoned--and sometimes untalented--authors to join the stronger entries from stars like Lisa Turtle, Tanith Lee, and Kit Reed. What stands out about the collection is its nearly universal cast of ""quiet"" horror; other than in old pro Nancy Holder's wonderfully sardonic nugget about rock-star cannibals (""Cannibal Cats Come Out Tonight""), there's nary a drop of blood shed on paper here--which, if taken as representative of women horror writers, no doubt partially explains their lack of popularity in today's gore-fest market. But quiet horror has its place, and a few of the contributors here do very well by it, most notably: Lisa Tuttle in ""The Spirit Cabinet""; Tanith Lee in ""The Devil's Race,"" a chilling tale of 19th-century Russian pseudodemonism; Carol Orlock in ""Nobody Lives There Now, Nothing Happens,"" a Bradbury-ish turn about neighborhood ghosts, maybe; Elizabeth Massie in a wicked southern gothic, ""Hooked on Buzzer""; Sharon Epperson in the short and tight medical horror tale ""Slide Number Seven""; and, in her first paid sale, Patricia Russo in ""True Love,"" a nerve-jangler set in a medieval inn. Worth checking out for its novelty factor and the scattering of exceptional entries; otherwise, just another average anthology.

Pub Date: Dec. 16th, 1988
Publisher: Tot--dist. by St. Martin's