I'm a horror fan, to the point that I read it almost exclusively. I enjoy horror from all eras, but I do tend to get burned out on modern horror prett...moreI'm a horror fan, to the point that I read it almost exclusively. I enjoy horror from all eras, but I do tend to get burned out on modern horror pretty quick. Collections like this make me feel hopeful in that there's still great weird fiction to be written.
This is one of those books I'll probably read several times, it's such a treat. I do enjoy a good short story, and these are so gleefully disturbing. These stories inspire thought and spark the imagination in ways most books don't succeed in doing.
I understand the comparisons to Lovecraft and Ligotti, as these stories are very weird in a broader, cosmic sense that is truly unsettling. However, I'd like to respectfully disagree. J.R. Hamantaschen sure can turn a phrase and sometimes uses what some readers may consider "highfalutin' big words", but I wouldn't say it's evocative of Lovecraft's flowery prose. What is disturbing about these stories is how they're modern life where something is not quite "right", which I'd say is where Ligotti succeeds. Unlike Ligotti, and like it states on the back cover, these stories are all about something. Things happen in these stories, whereas the Ligotti stories I've read have focused more on painting a disturbing picture without much happening.
No, I'd say the writer J.R. Hamantaschen most reminded me of was Richard Matheson. I've been a Matheson fan since 5th grade and that's a big compliment from me. Some of my favorite Matheson stories like "Dress of White Silk" and "Wet Straw" evoke the same kind of feelings to me as You Shall Never Know Security. They're unsettling and mysterious, thought provoking, and memorable. Also, the story "College" made me think of Matheson's "Button, Button" a bit.
Flipping back through this collection, I really don't think there were any stories I didn't enjoy. The ones that will stick with me the longest are likely "Sorrow Has Its Natural End", "Wonder", "There Must Be Lights Burning Brighter, Somewhere", and "Jordan" (which I understand could be viewed as humorous or gross by some, but to me it was quite disturbing).
So, I'll close with this: don't read this book if you like your horror all neat and tidy with no ambiguity. These stories do not hold your hand. They don't explain their more mysterious aspects to you. You must be willing to give these some thought. The feeling these stories tend to evoke is a weird, creepy dream you had and can't fully remember or explain. And I really love that.(less)
WOW! This book cannot be recommended highly enough! Aside from being extremely well-written (in a wonderful homage to Lovecraft), it's got everything...moreWOW! This book cannot be recommended highly enough! Aside from being extremely well-written (in a wonderful homage to Lovecraft), it's got everything a Weird Tales fan could want. I loved how masterfully Talley melded bits of previous mythos with his own creations; such as the wendigo origin story, the secret of Miskatonic U library, and the descriptions of places like R'lyeh. This book is just one treat after another for a reader like me. The little touches like the main character being named Carter Weston, the ship being called Kadath, and a mention of Erich Zann are a few examples that come to mind.
One of the best single-author collections I've ever read, and a wonderful introduction to Clark Ashton Smith. CAS is simply one of the most talented w...moreOne of the best single-author collections I've ever read, and a wonderful introduction to Clark Ashton Smith. CAS is simply one of the most talented writers I've had the pleasure of reading. His language is rich and decadent to read, a treat like fine chocolate. He melds genres wonderfully, in fact I cannot really describe his style or genre of writing except in list form. I cannot believe I just now started to read him. This book took me over a month to read simply because I didn't want it to be over!
All of this collection was great, a few of my favorite stories are "The Dark Eidolon", "The Isle of the Torturers", "The Seven Geases", and "The Monster of the Prophecy". I am definitely going to be grabbing up any and all CAS books I can find from now on! I recommend this collection to any CAS newbies, fans of horror, scifi, and fantasy, or anyone that enjoys a great short story.(less)
Wow! This book is crazy! Beautifully written, powerful read with a heavy impact, but still a nice, short book. It starts out like a punch to the face...moreWow! This book is crazy! Beautifully written, powerful read with a heavy impact, but still a nice, short book. It starts out like a punch to the face and doesn't let up. Piccirilli writes in a lyrical, blunt style that doesn't go for shock value exactly, the narrator is just telling you about his life with no sugar-coating. He's not trying to garner sympathy or horrify you, this is just what happened as he sees it. It just is. To see if you'd like this book's style, read the first 4 or 5 pages on Amazon first. This was my first book by Tom Piccirilli, but it definitely isn't going to be the last. I was very impressed.(less)
This may be the best Weird Tales collection I've read yet. It contains a great selection of the best authors of the era and some of the best stories I...moreThis may be the best Weird Tales collection I've read yet. It contains a great selection of the best authors of the era and some of the best stories I've read yet. The only other collection I've loved quite this much was "Weird Tales: 32 Unearthed Terrors". I'm only being extra-hard on my story ratings because I expect so much of Weird Tales. Anthologies in general can be of spotty quality, and the fact that I enjoyed reading all but 2 stories in this giant tome really speaks for the greatness of this book. The complete list of stories contained in this volume and my thoughts and ratings on them is as follows:
INTERIM by Ray Bradbury (10/10) Never has a 2-page story been so effectively creepy.
THE HOUSE OF ECSTASY by Ralph Milne Farley (8/10) Interesting concept.
THE STOLEN BODY by H.G. Wells (6/10) Not a bad story by any means, but at this point in my short-story reading, it doesn't seem too original.
THE SCRAWNY ONE by Anthony Boucher (7/10) Good enough story but I wanted more from the author of one of my fav short stories, "They Bite".
THE SORCERER'S APPRENTICE by Lucian (5/10) Meh. I understand it being included to help the reader appreciate Bloch's story later in the collection.
SKULLS IN THE STARS by Robert E. Howard (8/10) Great uncommonly short Solomon Kane story.
EENA by Manly Banister (9/10) Touching story about a subject I usually don't care much about: werewolves.
THE LOOK by Maurice Level (7/10) Pretty good story about guilt.
METHOUGHT I HEARD A VOICE by L. Sprague Camp (8/10) Interesting, well written story on mesmerism.
OFF THE MAP by Rex Dolphin (8/10) I'm a sucker for any cursed-place story.
THE LAST TRAIN by Fredric Brown (6/10) Kind of Twilight Zone-y.
TI MICHEL by W.J. Stamper (9/10) I love a good revenge story.
IN THE X-RAY by Fritz Leiber (9/10) Maybe conventional in plot but excellently written and genuinely chilling.
SPEAK by Henry Slesar (7/10) Not bad, but I don't usually go for this sort of thing.
THE PALE CRIMINAL by C. Hall Thompson (8/10) Good psychological horror.
THE SOMBRUS TOWER by Tanith Lee (8/10) Lee is a great writer and I wanted more out of this story. I do understand that was kind of the point, though.
MR. GEORGE by August Derleth (10/10) Well written story that is appropriately humorous, a bit touching, and satisfying.
THE TERROR OF THE WATER-TANK by William Hope Hodgson (6/10) My first story by this author wasn't super-impressive to me.
THE LEGEND OF ST. JULIAN THE HOSPITALLER by Gustave Flaubert (2/10) I could only read 2 pages of this before being bored by religious fervor. I don't understand why this story was included because it really doesn't hit the Weird Tales tone at all.
THE HOAX OF THE SPIRIT LOVER by Harry Houdini (8/10) I enjoyed the direct, jaded voice in this story.
SEED by Jack Snow (9/10) One of my favorites here. I'm into any weird science or jungle cult stuff.
MASKED BALL by Seabury Quinn (8/10) Quinn is one of my least favorite Weird Tales writers, something about his faintly aristocratic tone pisses me off. This is the only story of his I've read so far that I've actually enjoyed. Ghost dance in New Orleans, yes, please!
THE WOMAN WITH THE VELVET COLLAR by Gaston Leroux (8/10) Good creepy one that doesn't end the way you probably think it will.
MISTRESS SARY by William Tenn (9/10) Something about stories with creepy children is very appealing to me. Maybe because I think they're a bit evil naturally. ;)
THE JUDGE'S HOUSE by Bram Stoker (7/10) Not a bad story, but I couldn't help feeling it's too similar to previously read stories elsewhere.
THE BAGHEETA by Val Lewton (9/10) A sad, effective story.
GHOST HUNT by H.R. Wakefield (6/10) Not bad, but same feeling to me as SPEAK.
FUNERAL IN THE FOG by Edward D. Hoch (8/10) Well-written mystery. I always enjoy Hoch's stories.
THE DAMP MAN by Allison V. Harding (6/10) A kind of pulpy feeling mystery that didn't really do it for me.
THE LOST CLUB by Arthur Machen (5/10) Reminded me too much of Stevenson's "Suicide Club" although I guess this must have been the original idea.
WET STRAW by Richard Matheson (10/10) One of my favorite shorts from one of my favorite authors.
MYSTERIES OF THE FACELESS KING by Darrell Schweitzer (10/10) An excellent fantasy story that has made me determined to hunt down more of the author's work.
MORE THAN SHADOW by Dorothy Quick (10/10) I may be a bit biased rating this one seeing as I think poodles are evil anyway.
THE DEAD SMILE by F. Marion Crawford (10/10) I'd already decided to read more Crawford, but if I hadn't, this story would have made me. Genuinely unsettling.
THE SORCERER'S APPRENTICE by Robert Bloch (9/10) I loved this "cruel story", I must be a bit cruel inside.
CHICKEN SOUP by Katherine MacLean (7/10) I didn't wholly "get" this story, but I think that was maybe the point.
THE HAUNTED BURGLAR by W.C. Morrow (8/10) This story is so over the top I couldn't help liking it.
NEVER BET THE DEVIL YOUR HEAD by E.A. Poe (4/10) This is the only other story in the volume I skipped over after reading the first few pages. I didn't care for the style it was written in. Poe is hit or miss for me.
HE by H.P. Lovecraft (8/10) Good story by one of my all time favorite authors. It isn't one of his best, but I imagine it was chosen because it's short, this volume is huge already.
THE BROTHERHOOD OF BLOOD by Hugh B. Cave (9/10) Vampirism can be a tired subject to me. In this story it's more of a family curse than anything else, which appeals to me.
THE WEIRD OF AVOOSL WUTHOQQUAN by Clark Ashton Smith (9/10) Good luck trying to pronounce that title! Smith is one of the best writers I've read in Weird Tales, though. His writing always feels like a treat for me.
MEN WHO WALK UPON THE AIR by Frank Belknap Long (7/10) Pretty good, I like the repetition used here.
A CHILD'S DREAM OF A STAR by Charles Dickens (8/10) I'm not really a fan of Dickens in general or children, but I really liked this one and I understand why it was chosen.
THE PERFECT HOST by Theodore Sturgeon (9/10) Really fascinating story of possession. Sturgeon always impresses me.
So there ya go. My extremely long complete list of contents with a few thoughts. If you're still reading this far, you should just quit reading reviews and go find this book!(less)