Lovers of horror, whether it is psychological or physical, enjoy the genre because it creates a thrill of the unknown. In “Poe’s Children: The New Horror,” editor Peter Straub anthologizes stories ranging from events such as the brutality of rape to paganism and a dark past being pushed into the present. The culmination of the tales placed together provides a new kind of storytelling that has developed after one of America’s most renowned gothic writers — Edgar Allan Poe.
Straub places these 25 writers within the anthology because they are showcasing the best kind of horror through storytelling. Some are more experienced writers, and others are blooming. They range from Stephen King, Neil Gaiman and Straub to Joe Hill, Kelly Link and Ellen Klages.
The authors in this book are particularly distinguished in the horror genre, thus you would imagine that it is somewhat easy for Straub to pinpoint the best work of each writer. However, if you are an avid reader of horror, science fiction and the like, chances are there could be some disappointment.
While King made reading “Carrie” scarier than watching it, Straub chose “The Ballad of the Flexible Bullet,” a piece about insanity, mainly, how long it takes until reason is overpowered by the “flexible bullet” of our minds. While good, this novella is nowhere near his best in comparison to “Riding the Bullet” or “Graveyard Shift.”
Though all of the writers in this book are diverse with their use of horror, all share one common goal — to disturb. That is the direct point of horror, to create a reaction within each of us to the point where we read on, uneasy as to what will happen next but sure that we must continue to know the truth behind the mystery.
Steve Rasnic Tem and Melanie Tem manage to do that in “The Man on the Ceiling,” a tale about fear and foreboding doom within a home.
While each of the stories were well-written and diverse, the tales that stand out are “Cleopatra Brimstone” by Elizabeth Hand, “The Bees” by Dan Chaon, “In Praise of Folly” by Thomas Tessier and “20th Century Ghost” by Joe Hill, who is gaining a popular audience without the help of his father — King.
This anthology is worth reading, especially if you are interested in new horror writers. It will serve as a recommendation of writers you should already know, as well writers who are just beginning.
Rating: W W W 1/2