The Devil and the Deep: Horror Stories of the Sea edited by Ellen Datlow (2018)
Stories by Stephen Graham Jones and Brian Hodge, so different from each other, are the winners in this collection. A few notes:
"DEADWATER" SIMON BESTWICK
A "strangers on a yacht" thriller. Hauntings are not all done by ghosts.
....It's the absences that get you, with any death. The gaps, the depths, the holes people leave behind: they're what we mean by ghosts.
....And I did understand. You do whatever it takes to cope with the damage. And if anything threatens your coping mechanism, your safety, your sanctuary, you do whatever it takes to protect it.
"THE TRYAL ATTRACT" by TERRY DOWLING
A fine old cozy supernatural tale of tragedy and shipwreck, worthy of F. Marion Crawford. A good one for bedtime.
"And, Dave, about the skull. I've slept here with it many times, all the good it did. Just don't let it upset you. The whispering, I mean. I'll believe whatever you tell me."
"BROKEN RECORD" STEPHEN GRAHAM JONES
Here is a story written with bold intelligence and artistry. Absurdity and simplicity in content and form strengthen each other and lend the narrative a grace and poignancy that is unforgettable.
"THE DEEP SEA SWELL" by JOHN LANGAN
Lore and uncanny danger of the sea well-conveyed by Langan
....No matter where they went, it seemed, salt water was visible. When she mentioned this to Giorgio, trying to keep her tone light, care free, he nodded and said, "Aye, someone told me once you're never more than three miles from open water on Shetland." No doubt the landscape of the island, low hills bare of trees, contributed to the sensation, but she began to feel horribly exposed, surrounded by the ocean, which, if you thought about it, could rise and wash over the place without much effort at all.
"HE SINGS OF SALT AND WORMWOOD" BRIAN HODGE
....As a rule, ignorance was no virtue, but if you gave too much thought to the sea, and everything with teeth that called it home, you'd never venture out to meet it.
24 April 2019