The Valancourt Book of Horror Stories: Volume 3
Edited by James D. Jenkins and Ryan Cagle
Absolutely first-rate. It is such a pleasure after forty years of reading horror to open an anthology and find that all the stories are new to me.
R. Chetwynd-Hayes DON'T GO UP THEM STAIRS
The collection gets off to a ghoulishly roaring start with "Don't Go Up Them Stairs." I had always been of the received opinion that Chetwynd-Hayes was a mediocrity. One of the many benefits of these Valancourt collections has been to correct that opinion.
Forrest Reid COURAGE
A lovely story about a boy having to grow up too soon. Which has been one of the genre's major motifs. Reid handles the material with a fine-tuned chilliness.
Ernest G. Henham PETE BARKER'S SHANTY
A well-turned story about madness on the Canadian plains. The element of coincidence is nicely disguised.
Steve Rasnic Tem THE PARTS MAN
My encounter with Tem has been delayed for three decades. But after reading "The Parts Man" I can see where his reputation for excellence comes from. The protagonist's emotionally charged and physically devastating reckoning with a lifetime's habit of inflicting pain on others is unforgettable.
Helen Mathers THE FACE IN THE MIRROR
The position of women in society is mirrored in horror. Mathers' story, a puzzle-piece, might outwardly resemble drawing room melodrama, but there is a steel spine here.
Charles Beaumont THE LIFE OF THE PARTY
"The Life of the Party" is a perfectly engineered mousetrap. It waits for the reader, who begins tinkering with it out of arrogance.
Hugh Fleetwood THE POET GIVES HIS FRIEND WILDFLOWERS
Short, but not slight. Edgar Allan Poe strenuously edited by Gordon Lish.
L. P. Hartley MONKSHOOD MANOR
Hartley is always a pleasure. The plain hard work required to create stories that strike the reader as effortless apologues is cause for thanksgiving. "Monkshood Manor" is pure Hartley: inevitable doom expressed as individual psychology.
Eric C. Higgs BLOOD OF THE KAPU TIKI
Two women make their way in the world. One works, the other survives as a social parasite. Each faces a different reckoning.
James Purdy MR EVENING
Purdy is new to me, and "Mr. Evening" is a weird and unsettling masterpiece.
Elizabeth Jenkins ON NO ACCOUNT, MY LOVE
Jenkins, like Hartley, is a jeweler. Every story element is brought together to make something sublime.
J. B. Priestley UNDERGROUND
The biter bit.
John Keir Cross MOTHERING SUNDAY
Keir Cross' collection The Other Passenger gave me a more than a few unsettled days. "Mothering Sunday" is filled with the same smothering level of dread. And the best snowman this side of Ramsey Campbell.
Simon Raven THE BOTTLE OF 1912
A postwar family reunion. (As written by His Satanic Majesty).
Ethel Lina White 'WITH WHAT MEASURE YE METE . . .'
I assumed White would be a writer of "Had I But Known" material. But in this story the atmosphere of confusion and the author's crafty indirection result in something very modern.
Robert Westall BEELZEBUB
The perfect complement to the Chetwynd-Hayes story that opened this collection. Superb comedy, genuinely disturbing.
30 September 2018