Book Review – The Monstrous, edited by Ellen Datlow

The Monstrous
by Various Authors
Publisher: Tachyon Publications
Release Date: October 27, 2015


Editor Ellen Datlow must be a psychic. There’s no other explanation. I mean, how else can she know exactly what horror fiction fans want? I read and reviewed one of her previous books last year (LOVECRAFT’S MONSTERS, click here to read the review), and I loved it. So when I was approached to review this one, I said ‘Yes!’ before I even knew the premise. Datlow is extremely gifted when it comes to story selection, and THE MONSTROUS is yet another fine example of her talent.

If you are not familiar with THE MONSTROUS, here is the book’s synopsis courtesy of Tachyon Publications:

Take a terrifying journey with literary masters of suspense, including Peter Straub, Kim Newman, and Caitlín R. Kiernan, visiting a place where the other is somehow one of us. These electrifying tales redefine monsters from mere things that go bump in the night to inexplicable, deadly reflections of our day-to-day lives. Whether it’s a seemingly devoted teacher, an obsessive devotee of swans, or a diner full of evil creatures simply seeking oblivion, the monstrous is always there—and much closer than it appears.

The spirit of short horror fiction is alive and strong in the literary world, and I am SO thankful it is. I love short stories, and when they can incorporate the horrific and terrifying, then so much the better. This anthology is an excellent example of such.

Every story in THE MONSTROUS is carefully crafted and written well. The authors showcase a wide range of abilities in this collection, and each offers a unique foray into the subject matter. I particularly like how the term ‘monster’ is approached in various ways amidst the stories, from the literal to the figurative. This diversity allows for a more pleasurable and well-rounded read.

I also have to comment on the cover art. The imagery on the front of the book strikes a primal root within my brain that resonates with dread. I can’t put my finger on why, but the creature on the front of the book chills me to the bone. Perhaps its the hybridity of its characteristics, or maybe even the fact that it’s partially human…I’m not sure. But regardless, I find it horrifying.

If I were forced to pick a favorite story from within these pages, I simply could not do it. I like every single one of them. They all have merit in some form or fashion, and each does the subject matter justice beyond measure.

THE MONSTROUS is a huge win for me, and I highly recommend it. The twenty tales in this tome will leave you sleepless for many nights to come, and yet begging for more. The book hits store shelves at the end of the month, just in time for Halloween, so make a note.


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