Wednesday, April 3, 2013

New Monsters and Old Fears: A Review of Impossible Monsters

Impossible Monsters is a forthcoming anthology edited by Kasey Lansdale. It features horror stories by Neil Gaiman, Charlaine Harris, Anne Perry, and Joe R. Lansdale. Each of the twelve stories center on original, hair-raising monsters guaranteed to send shivers down your spine. Bugs, poisonous plants, and snakes are only the beginning in this anthology.

Overall, this is a fantastic collection for fans that have been feeling bored with the oversaturation of vampires and werewolves in pop culture, and who are looking for some new monsters to stalk their nightmares. Impossible Monsters will be available in July 2013 and is available for preorder now.

Here's a look at what's inside the anthology:

"Blue Amber" by David J. Schow
The first story in this anthology opens with a grotesque discovery by two police officers—the sloughed off skin of a human being. Rather than wait for back up, the long-time partners decide to take the investigation into their own hands. What they find are stomach-churning, parasitic creatures that will make your skin crawl.

"Click-Clack the Rattlebag" by Neil Gaiman
I had already heard the audio version from this past October, but this story gave me just as many shivers when read from the page. This is a wonderfully scary story that draws you in deeper and deeper, and by the time you realize what is happening, it’s too late to escape.

"Cavity Creeps" by Cory Goodfellow
This story blends together real-world worries about job-loss and homelessness, with nightmarish creatures that prey on those forgotten by society. While I’m not entirely convinced by the ending, I was constantly saying, “No! Don’t go in there!” while reading, which is a sure sign of a good scary story.

"The Glitter of the Crowns" by Charlaine Harris
I admit I rolled my eyes when the story opened with a description of an upper-class family with two pageant-winning daughters. I got more interested when the focus shifted to another family—one that wasn’t perfect, and had secrets. Charlaine Harris is known for her vampires, but she handles other monsters just as well in this story. The brutal twist ending leaves the reader wondering who the real monsters are.

"Doll’s Eyes" by Tim Bryant
When people think of flowers, they usually imagine daisies, roses, or lilies. In Tim Bryant’s story, the flowers are creepy, poisonous, grotesque outgrowths of something even more evil. Out of all of the stories, this was my favorite monster of all, not least because the flowers that inspired the story actually exist.

"Bloaters" by Neal Barrett, Jr.
Blood-drinkers, rednecks, and succubi, oh my! While this story is light on descriptions of the actual monsters, it leaves nothing to the imagination when it comes to gore and horror.

"Detritus" by Chet Williamson
Out of all the stories, this one is by far the one that made me shudder the most. Not because of gore or creepy monsters, but because of the hyper-realistic descriptions of the microscopic debris that our bodies leave behind. The story is well done, but keep the hand sanitizer nearby while you’re reading.

"Monster" by Anne Perry
This story is full of traditionally Gothic characters—a shy bookseller, a wealthy investor who keeps his cards close, and a beautiful young woman with a tragic past. The protagonist has been touched by the supernatural before, and so is suspicious when characters seem affected by something not of this world. It falls to him to face a monster that he could never have anticipated.

"Orange Lake" by Al Sarrantonio
Any story that features the spirit of Samhain is going to be wonderfully creepy, and that unique inclusion is what sets this story apart from the typical summer horror films where a group of attractive couples visit an abandoned summer camp/cabin/campsite. The monster in this story is fantastic as well, and affirmed my aversion to swimming in lakes.

"Nathan" by Selina Rosen
This story is about what happens when imaginary friends go bad. Selina Rosen does a great job of creating a narrator whose reliability is constantly questioned. After reading this story, my only criticism was that I wished it were longer.

"Blood Moccasins" by Bradley Denton
And I thought that having high blood pressure running in the family was rough. Blood Moccasins describes a bizarre family illness that promises an early death. Rather than give in to the illness, the elderly Carl instead uses his strange affliction to ensure that his grandchild will be better off.

"The Case of the Angry Traveler" (A Dana Roberts Adventure) by Joe R. Lansdale
I loved the elements in this story taken from different genres, from sci-fi to horror. Readers are brought deep underground in search of an otherworldly being preying on the city’s homeless. I haven’t read any other Dana Roberts stories from Joe Lansdale, but I enjoyed meeting her and her team of supernormal investigators.

By Kelly J. Doran