The Monster’s Corner

Ever watch the Friday the 13th series and think that maybe Jason isn’t so much evil as he is misunderstood? Do you think Mr. Hyde is way cooler than that nerdy wimp Dr. Jekyll? Would you consider Damien Thorn (The Omen) or Reagan MacNeil (The Exorcist) to be exemplary children? Well, The Monster’s Corner, the new anthology by Christopher Golden may be what you are looking for. Featuring all new, never-before-published stories from some of the best in the business, it paints thoughtful, disturbing and often humorous pictures of our neighbors in the dark. Everyone from Medusa to the Frankenstein Monster to the Colossal Man gets a chance to have their story told.
Though centered on a shared theme, these stories are of varying lengths, voices and tone. David Liss opens the anthology with the wonderful story, “The Awkward Age.” It focuses on a literally ghoulish teenage girl who sets her sights on the father of one of her friends. Jonathan Maberry’s “St. John” is an uncharacteristically dark tale packed with apocalyptic Catholic imagery. Trading in the hip sensibilities of the Joe Ledger series for brooding, Gothic prose, he delivers one of the standout pieces in the collection. These two tales set the tone for the rest of the anthology, where some of the authors step out of what they normally do in order to tell fresh, unique horror stories.
The darkest of the batch is undoubtedly Nate Kenyon’s “Breeding the Demons.” While all the tales contained are enjoyable, this is the only one I would label “scary.” The story follows a photographer who shoots depraved scenes of rearranged body parts for a group of demonic buyers. Sleeping came with great difficulty the night I read this one. It gave me honest-to-God “heebie-jeebies.”
Other standouts include Heather Graham’s “Wicked Be,” Jeff Strand’s wild plant story “Specimen 313,” David Moody’s homage to atomic age SciFi films “Big Man,” Sarah Pinborough’s Medusa story “The Screaming Room,” Tananarive Due’s “The Lake” and Michael Marshall Smith’s “The Other One” (which brilliantly tells the tale of the destructive side that lives in all of us and makes us care about it).
Overall, Christopher Golden has put together yet another kickass anthology to rank up there with The New Dead. While there were some standouts, I am hard-pressed to find any weak links in the collection. There is something for every horror fan to be found here, and each story delivers the goods. Or, in this case, “the evil.” Some of the most fun I have had reading all year.

4 responses to “The Monster’s Corner

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