Friday, 13 April 2018

Book Review: American Supernatural Tales by various

A collection of American supernatural tales ranging from the years 1824 to 2000. Ghosts and elder gods and vampires and demons... oh my!

"That's life for you," said MacDunn. "Someone always waiting for someone who never comes home. Always someone loving some thing more than that thing loves them. And after a while you want to destroy whatever that thing is, so it can't hurt you no more." - The Fog Horn. Ray Bradbury.

This collection was a really interesting read, I really liked how the stories are presented chronologically, so it's almost like you can track the evolution of these supernatural tales and how they change over time.  However, in terms of the quality of the stories themselves, they were mostly hit and miss, but overall I'd say that the good outweighs the bad. I had the opportunity to reread some great stories such as The Fall of the House of Usher by Edgar Allan Poe, The Call of Cthulhu by HP Lovecraft and Night Surf by Stephen King - The Call of Cthulhu in particular was even better on a second read. If I ignore my rereads within this collection, the stand-out stories were the following: The Fog Horn by Ray Bradbury, The Vaults of Yoh-Vombis by Clark Ashton Smith and The Events at Poroth Farm by T. E. D. Klein.

First of all, The Fog Horn by Ray Bradbury... consider my mind blown. It was simply stunning. It was heartfelt and touching, whilst also being quite atmospheric and chilling. It actually prompted me to pick up a Bradbury short story collection. The writing was absolutely gorgeous and the idea for the story itself was just so unique and unexpected. Highly rate this one!

The Vaults of Yoh-Vombis was just fucking crazy and I was 100% ON BOARD. I read it while having a bath and the water was almost cold when I was getting out, as I just couldn't stop!! It was basically like a Lovecraft story set on Mars with an Alien vibe. I honestly never thought I'd be the type to enjoy stories like that, and yet here we are... I adored this story and am also a major Lovecraft fan!! This one was pretty tense and scary, and will be hard to forget.

The Events at Poroth Farm was pretty much a story that is right up my street. Once there's some kind of demonic possession involved, I'm there. And I'm revelling in it. Read this one if you can, it was fantastic. The sense of foreboding was overwhelming and had me livin' on the edge. There's also a lot of great references to horror and weird fiction as our protagonist is spending his summer reading lots of books out at this farm. So that was an added bonus!

Other highlights for me were Old Renfield's Heart by Robert E. Howard (which I actually read aloud to Matthew and we both enjoyed), The Lonesome Place by August Derleth and What Was It? by Fitz-James O'Brien. Fun fact: recently after reading this book I randomly found out that there is actually an August Derleth award (that King has won I believe) - weird how these things happen. There was also a Shirley Jackson story (The Visit), but I was quite disappointed by this one...which makes me sad.

I had kept a list of ratings for each story, and the average was 3.4, so I think an overall rating of 3.5 seems most fair, doesn't it? This collection is worth it for the stories I highlighted (as well as the Poe, Lovecraft and King ones, if you haven't read those). 


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