Book Review: THE MONSTROUS anthology

THE MONSTROUS  edited by Ellen Datlow.  Trade paperback, 384 pages.  (Tachyon Publications, October 2015)

You can't go wrong with any collection edited by Ellen Datlow.    She knows her way around the horror and fantasy genres like no other, and has a knack for finding the needles in the haystack. This collection is no different, short stories based around the theme of "monstrous" - - unusual monster stories (including human monsters, but no serial killers). Datlow must have received a mountain of submittals and she did not limit her choices to any singular style or time frame. The oldest 24998915story in here was written in 1982, with the most recent from 2015 plus one complete original story never published elsewhere. 

There is not a single dull needle in the bunch. Every story is sharp and piercing in its delivery and/or message. It was hard picking favorites, but it narrowed down to two stories that stand above the rest: 1) "Piano Man" by Christopher Fowler, an eerie tale involving voodoo in New Orleans and a possessed, animated piano creature. It's much scarier than it sounds; and 2) "Corpsemouth" the one original story in this collection, about a Scottish legendary creature trying to make a return in modern times. 
Along the travels into the pages of THE MONSTROUS are tales of ghostly were-dogs with human faces ("A Natural History of Autumn by Jeffrey Ford), human monsters teaching our children ("Ashputtle" by Peter Straub), explorers uncovering a buried Sumerian/Babylonian memorial to the Terrible Seven gods ("A Wish From A Bone" by Gemma Files), post-apocalyptic survivors now mating with hideous sea creatures in order to continue their species ("The Last Clean Bright Summer" by Livea Llewellyn), monsters attending an awards ceremony to honor their own, in a sleazy diner of course ("The Total" by Adam Troy Castro), the haunting tale of a Jewish vampire preying on fellow prisoners in a Nazi concentration camp ("Down Among The Dead Men" by Jack Dann and Gardner Dozois), and a Colorado western, circa 1885, with horrific elements ("Grindstone" by Stephen Graham Jones).

from the Goodreads posting . . . . . . . .

The Monstrous

by Ellen Datlow (Goodreads Author) (Editor)Caitlín R. Kiernan (Contributor)Peter Straub (Goodreads Author) (Contributor)Christopher Fowler(Contributor)Kim Newman (Contributor)Sofia Samatar (Goodreads Author)(Contributor)Jeffrey Ford (Contributor)Livia Llewellyn (Contributor) , and more . . . . .
From the best horror editor in the business comes the quintessential horror anthology: The Monstrous. Take a terrifying journey with literary masters of suspense, 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.


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