Thursday, November 5, 2015

Book Review: The Monstrous, edited by Ellen Datlow

From Goodreads:
From the best horror editor in the business comes the quintessential horror anthology: The Monstrous. Take a terrifying journey with literary masters of suspense, visiting a place where the other is somehow one of us. These electrifying tales redefine monsters from mere things that go bump-in-the-night to inexplicable, deadly reflections of our day-to-day lives. Whether it's a seemingly-devoted teacher, an obsessive devotee of swans, or a diner full of evil creatures simply seeking oblivion, the monstrous is always there — and much closer than it appears.
Writing
It's a hodge-podge, as I'd expect with any anthology.  Some are better than others, but overall I'd say the collection leans towards very well done.  I've read several Datlow anthologies and have trust in her choices after having nothing but good experiences.  Some standouts in terms of writing quality included a story about a twisted kindergarten teacher by Peter Straub and one about some super creepy twins and a patient in a mental institution by Terry Dowling.

Entertainment Value
I love a good monster story and my only complaint here is that it didn't last long enough.  It's got a mix of monsters, from fantasy to horror to human beings at their worst, and it covers a wide range of fantasy and horror subgenres.  There's something for everyone, from the literary to the supernatural to dystopian futures.  I thoroughly enjoyed it and was thrilled to put it in my Little Free Library when I finished (back in mid-October) so that someone else could enjoy it before Halloween.  I wasn't surprised to see it snatched right up!  Another aspect that I look forward to enjoying in a completed copy in the future is an inclusion of original artwork before each story.

Overall
If you like horror, monster stories, or are looking for something to dip in and out of on chilly fall nights, this is a great selection.  I can't rave enough about Datlow and the authors included here.  As with any horror, it's got gore, horror, elements of the supernatural, cursing, and some sexuality, so avoid if you're squeamish or easily creeped out.  Or maybe I should say easily creeped out and don't enjoy it - I'm pretty easy to creep, but I love it!

Thanks to Jim and Tachyon Publications for sending me a copy to review!

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