THE ARCHITECTURE OF FEAR by Kathyrn & Peter D. Pautz--Eds. Cramer

THE ARCHITECTURE OF FEAR

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KIRKUS REVIEW

This above-average horror anthology features 13 original haunted-house stories from leading dark fantasists, plus a previously unpublished novella by the late Robert Aickman. The very top names in horror--Barker, Strieber, King--are missing here, but editors Pautz and Cramer have roped in contributions from some of the more innovative workers in the field. Foremost is Joyce Carol Oates, who in ""Haunted"" donates a shimmering southern gothic wherein an abandoned house answers a young girl's sexual awakening (""I couldn't move feeling so slow and dreamy in the heat like a fly caught on a sticky petal. . .""). Oates' story bears little relation, except in its haunted-house premise, to the others here; rather than hew to the classic haunted-house theme--that a dwelling reflects the good or evil of its inhabitants or builder--most of the authors use haunted buildings only as springboards to elaborate idiosyncratic terrors. Thus in ""Gentlemen,"" John Skipp and Craig Spector skewer sexism by visiting a seedy bar where a chauvinist evil dwells; best-selling terror maven Dean Koontz looks at vengeance in the context of war horrors lodged in a home bought by a Vietnam vet; and science fictionist Gene Wolfe offers a spooky sendup of fairy tales ""In the House of Gingerbread."" Some writers do pursue the more classic vein, mostly to good effect: Scott Baker with ""Nesting Instinct,"" a scary tour de force about an American girl slowly subsumed by a round house on the outskirts of Paris; Ramsey Campbell in a typically potent and subersive tale of a man's compulsion for home; and Aickman's novella, ""Fetch,"" a mannered, evocative use of an isolated and crumbling house in remote Scotland. But then there's Jessica Amanda Salmonson, who writes of ""The House that Knew No Hate""--but knew plenty of treacle, evidently. Occupying no new ground, this paper house of horror--appended by a fatuous afterword and a useful list of top haunted-house tales--provides generally solid diversion for those who venture within.

Pub Date: Oct. 22nd, 1987
Publisher: Arbor House