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Book Review

Book Cover

The Horror Anthology


Authors: Various
Editor: Dan Coxon
Publisher: Titan Books
397 pages
RRP: £8.99, US $15.95, Cdn $21.95
ISBN: 978 1 80336 068 3
Publication Date: 13 September 2022

Titan Books publishes Isolation: The Horror Anthology, 20 chilling stories from modern masters of horror, including: Joe R. Lansdale, Mark Morris, Ramsey Campbell, Lisa Tuttle, M.R. Carey, Ken Liu, Tim Lebbon, Alison Littlewood, Owl Goingback and others. The theme is inspired by the lockdowns during the Covid-19 period and explores loneliness, loss, separation, remoteness, confinement and insecurity. The collection is edited by Dan Coxon, an award-winning editor and writer based in London. His anthology This Dreaming Isle was shortlisted for both a Shirley Jackson Award and a British Fantasy Award. His debut collection Only the Broken Remain was nominated for two British Fantasy Awards. His fiction has appeared in Black Static, Nightscript, The Lonely Crown, Not One of Us, and the Terrifying Ghosts anthology. He is an editor at award-winning publisher Unsung Stories...

This is a timely collection of stories featuring subjects we can all relate to. It would have been nice to have a series of horror stories based purely on family segregation as a result of the global pandemic. This would have proved more claustrophobic and explored how differently individuals are affected by essentially the same experience. However, this book looks at wider aspects of insecurity. It is natural, as a reader, to navigate towards the tried and tested authors and other names you may recognise. Thus, I headed straight to 'The Long Dead Day', the contribution from one of my favourite writers, Joe R. Lansdale. His Hap and Leonard books are amazingly good fun, and others out there include Bubba Ho-Tep, Cold in July, and The Bottoms. I must admit I’m disappointed with this one: a pretty standard family turning into zombies piece.

Next was Mark Morris. 'Friends For Life' has elements of a Wicker Man story. It flows well, is enjoyable to read, but is a little predictable and would have benefitted from a late twist. Ramsey Campbell’s 'The Blind House' follows a man who has cut himself off from the outside world and edits other people’s novels. Lisa Tuttle’s 'Fire Above, Fire Below' has a girl picking-up on what people say and making predictions on events which always come true. Inevitably, she ends-up being spirited away by the military to help in their catastrophic war. Some elements of this remind me of my own short story called 'The Needs of the One', which you can read on my website – I also have 'The Hospital Garden' on there which ideally fits the themes of loneliness and isolation.

What I’m getting at here – amidst all the plugging of my own material – is that if you’ve come to expect higher quality from the writers you know and love, it’s reasonable to be more critical. It’s my own personal moan and I’m certain most people will not notice the difference and wonder what I’m wittering on about. But it does mean the other contributors proved to be more of a revelation for me. The bottom line is that, although not perfect, this is a solid and diverse collection.


Ty Power

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