The Sixth Black Book of Horror edited by Charles Black

January 16, 2011

Last year I enjoyed reading the anthology Zombie Apocalypse! So I thought I would take the chance to dip my toes into the waters of shorts fiction once again. Sticking with horror, I was given the opportunity by Mortbury Press to read volume six of the Black Book of Horror.

There are fifteen short stories in this volume ranging from paranormal horror to psychological horror. Overall, the anthology was very good, but rather than give too much away I thought I would give some feedback on the entries that were personal highlights for me.

Six of the Best by John Llewellyn Probert – In the first story the psychic medium on a ‘Most Haunted’ style television show is plagued by gruesome visions of the dead.  A strong start to this anthology with an unexpected and unpleasant twist. This sets a high standard for the other stories to measure up to.

Traffic Stream by Simon Kurt Unsworth – I liked the notion of taking a mundane activity, in this case giving directions over a phone to a colleague, and turning into something horrific.

An Unconventional Exorcism by R. B. Russell–A quirky and darkly comic tale that is more funny than horrific. I was amused by this odd and slightly surreal story. I think it’s fair to say I have never read of an exorcism performed in the way described here.

The Doom by Paul Finch – A vicar meets a visitor to his church who is need of advice. The longer their conversation continues, the less sure of himself the vicar becomes. Leaving the reader to fill in the blanks at the stories end is a nice touch, as personally, I tend to always imagine the worst. This story benefits from being very firmly grounded in reality which, for me, made the horror seem that much more intense.

Room Above the Shop by Stephen Bacon –A young girl is pursued by the dummies that are stored in the room above her grandmother’s dress shop. I think mannequins can have a natural creepiness about them and this makes them a good choice for horror story villains.

Their Cramped Dark World by David A. Riley – Two teenage friends meet in a lonely ruined house. This story reminded me of vintage James Herbert. There is a wickedly unrepentant villain, strange creatures and some graphic torture. The ending is memorable and stands out as being truly gruesome.

When it comes to genre fiction I do think that horror has the greatest potential for producing memorable short stories. While I was reading the anthology I was reminded of the best of the Hammer House of Horror TV series and Roald Dahl’s Tales of the Unexpected.

Currently, there are in total seven Black Books of Horror available. I advise checking them out as there is something here for all horror fans.

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