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Fearful Symmetries

3.73  ·  Rating details ·  267 ratings  ·  51 reviews
So what can you look forward to in Fearful Symmetries? There are monsters—human and non-human. There are children—those who victimize, and those who are victims. There are supernatural horrors, psychological terrors, nourish dark fantasies, and downright weird fictions.   Featuring Nathan Ballingrud, Laird Barron, Pat Cadigan, Siobhan Carroll, Terry Dowling, Brian Evenson, ...more
Paperback, 400 pages
Published July 8th 2014 by ChiZine Publications (first published April 15th 2014)
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3.73  · 
Rating details
 ·  267 ratings  ·  51 reviews

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Althea Ann
Apr 14, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ellen Datlow can always be counted on to select some good writing. This collection simply further cements her already-stellar reputation. These are all strong stories, and all appear here for the first time. A must-read for any horror fan - or indeed, any fan of dark, weird fiction.

The editor's guidelines for submission to this anthology: "This is a non-theme, all original anthology of about 125,000 words of terror and supernatural horror. I’m looking for all kinds of horror, but if you’re going
I received an advanced reading copy of this from the publisher via NetGalley.

Ellen Datlow's name to me is synonymous with horror anthology. I see the two together so often, and usually with accolades, that I decided I really did need to just read one of her collections. This one really impressed me in its variety and its quality. I typically enjoy reading horror stories like these around Halloween time, and this collection would be suited well for that kind of celebration. The hard decision will
Apr 05, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
ARC for review.

So, short story anthologies versus collections. If you are reading a collection it's probably because it's by an author you already love. If you are reading an anthology there are bound to be stories by writers who have a style you don't particularly care for, but then you also get the opportunity to find a great new author. From a rating standpoint you're nearly always going to end up running the gamut - lots of twos you don't love, some fours you like and, if you are lucky, may
Apr 20, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
I love anything Edith Datlow works on. I have one too many times attempted to read a compilation, only to find nothing but a collection of mediocre to bad stories. That is NEVER the case with Datlow edited works. This is no exception. The stories in the beginning were a bit weaker to me than those in the middle and at the end, ending with a particularly amazing offering by Garth Nix. Horror is not my genre, not in the slightest, but the grand majority of the stories compiled in this work were mo ...more
Rachel Bridgeman
Jul 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Ellen Datlow does it again! Thanks to Netgalley for allowing me to review this, as a big fan of Ms Datlow's previous anthologies I was excited to read this latest one. It is to be highly recommended, as always in an anthoology there are some hits and some misses but you cannot deny that Ms Datlow has some of the biggest names in ficiton lining up to be included in her anthologies and this is because she picks the best stories and lines them up beautifully. Each book feels like a labour of love a ...more
Ben Rowe
Aug 06, 2014 rated it really liked it
I was keen to pick up this book in part because I like the taste of Ellen Datlow as an editor and in part because the range of writers in the collection appealed to me. Caitlin Kiernan and Jeffrey Ford are two of my favorite writers and I basically seek out everything that they publish. Nathan Ballingrud left a real impression on me with the few of his stories I have read as had the stories I had read by several of the other writers in the volume such as Brian Evenson. On top of that many of the ...more
William Freedman
Oct 06, 2014 rated it really liked it
"Fearful Symmetries is a mixed bag, but intentionally so. When you combine the editorial talent of Ellen Datlow and the publishing talent behind ChiZine Publications, good things are going to happen, but unpredictably.

Few readers are going to like every story here, but it will be a matter of readers' taste rather than writers' talent. I've been waiting a long time to read something by the immensely gifted Gemma Files in which I'd feel like I'm part of the intended audience, and I thank her for l
Violette Malan
Jul 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Usually when I read an anthology I expect to find maybe 3 stories out of 20 that are really outstanding, an couple of maybe-I-won't-finish-this-ones, and the balance fine enough. In this collection I'd say it was more like 17 outstanding and 3 fine enough. I finish even the ones that weren't my usual cup of tea.
Shockingly good stuff.
May 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing
One of the best anthologies I've read... period. A real page turner that terrified and enthralled me from start to finish. The highlights included stories from Dale Bailey, Laird Barron, Gemma Files and Garth Nix.

Highly recommended for all genre readers.
Aug 19, 2014 rated it really liked it
All stories are good, most are genuinely disturbing. A couple are more like sketches.
Stacie Wolff
May 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I received an advance copy from Netgalley. Loved this collection. Not a dud among them. Especially liked Will the Real Psycho in This Story Please Stand Up.
Chrystal Hays
Nov 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing
No horror editor comes close to Ellen Datlow. In this book, we have some brilliant works by excellent writers. The final story is perhaps the one that stayed with me the longest...
Jun 14, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
More of a 3 and a half really.

*I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

If you’re anything like me, you like your horror in small doses. :D When I was younger, I used to love horror novels – I devoured anything by Stephen King, Richard Laymon, Dean Koontz and the like. Now, I like ‘em short and sweet.

So Ellen Datlow’s new anthology, Fearful Symmetries, was right up my alley. And as I’ve
Tobin Elliott
Jul 04, 2014 rated it did not like it
Shelves: fiction, hard-copy, horror
Maybe it's just me--likely is, considering the overwhelmingly positive reviews for this collection--but I really wasn't impressed by it. And Ellen Datlow is likely the closest thing to royalty when it comes to editors. I have nothing but the utmost respect for her. And the authors are a stellar group, overall.

Perhaps it was the unthemed theme of this collection. Perhaps it was my state of mind. Who the hell knows? All I know is, I started the first story, got halfway, and gave up. Moved to the s
Catherine Grant
Sep 16, 2015 rated it really liked it
Really solid anthology with established names as well as up-and comers.

My favorite story, by far, is Jeffrey Ford's MOUNT CHARY GALORE, which is the first story I've ever read from him and made me go out and buy every single book he's written. His prose is gorgeous, characters perfectly anchored in a story that makes sense and has a satisfying ending. One beautiful thing about anthologies is that they help readers find new authors.

My other absolute favorite was Catherine MacLeod's THE ATTIC. Hau
May 23, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
a fine collection of stories full of tension, discomfort, and horror. my favorite was probably the first story, 'wish from a bone' by gemma files. though there were many strong contenders for the favorite spot.

surprisingly enough one of the least compelling was from brian evenson, an author who i enjoy very much. perhaps because this story wasn't as focused on style as my favorite evenson pieces.
Lord Humungus
Nov 16, 2014 rated it really liked it
I've always been a fan of Datlow's collections and this one did not disappoint. In my opinion, most of the stories here were good to excellent, with some brilliantly inspired material and at least one truly disturbing story. I felt the first story was the only one that fell short of the rest, and that was only in its writing/execution; the premise was great.

Highly recommended for fans of horror, Lovecraft and the surreal.
Tyrannosaurus regina
Nearly every story in this anthology leaves me feeling haunted, which is my favourite sort of horror, and overall the writing itself, stylistically, is exceptional. The stories show you what's happening and leave you with the implicit or explicit perception that the worst is yet to come. Maybe to you.
Jul 03, 2014 rated it really liked it
Very good collection of disquieting stories for an 'unthemed' collection. Joe Lansdale did not end up contributing to this - bad for Lansdale fans - but the stories that did make the cut should be more than satisfactory.
These were all a little wacky for my tastes. 2.5 stars.
Mar 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: horror, short-n-sweet
Dipped a little in the middle but overall yet another fantastic compilation of stories from Ellen Datlow.

The Attic, by Catherine MacLeod and Shay Corsham Worsted, by Garth Nix, were absolutely fantastic, and stood out even over other great stories - I was left wishing for more of both of them.
Jul 13, 2015 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jess Landry
Jul 27, 2015 rated it really liked it
With nearly thirty years’ experience, over fifty anthologies under her belt and more awards than you can shake a bloody stick at, it’s no wonder readers have come to expect nothing less than spectacular when Ellen Datlow’s name is attached to a project. Her most current undertaking, Fearful Symmetries, not only goes beyond expectations, it raises the bar high above into the horror heavens.

Bankrolled through the crowd-funding site Kickstarter, the non-themed anthology is best summed up by Datlow
Alysa H.
Apr 04, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
Although I'm normally more interested in themed anthologies, I was excited to read this collection, for which the only connecting theme is essentially "scary stories that Ellen Datlow liked".

There were, unfortunately, very few stories that spoke to me. Although nothing here was poorly written by any stretch, I actively liked fewer than half (particular favorites included entries from Jeffrey Ford, Catherine MacLeod, Carole Johnstone, and Garth Nix). A handful more were just alright and about th
Chris Bauer
I feel like I should be up front about the reason I chose only 3 stars for this collection of horror short stories. I've read dozens of Datlow's previous anthologies and have enjoyed all of them.

The writing of each work is excellent and highly polished, the subject matter is diverse with smatterings of dark fiction from many different realms and the collection itself is impressive.

I guess I was a bit disappointed by the overall impact of the stories. While well-written in every case, none of th
Paul Roberts
May 19, 2014 rated it liked it

"A Wish From a Bone" by Gemma Files
"The Atlas of Hell" by Nathan Ballingrud
“Ballad of an Echo Whisperer” by Caitlín R. Kiernan
"the worms crawl in," by Laird Barron
"Episode Three: On the Great Plains, In the Snow" by John Langan

Corinna Bechko
Feb 03, 2015 rated it really liked it
Ellen Datlow can always be counted on to pull together a first-rate anthology, so I was very much on board when I heard about this Kickstarter. It is every bit as good as promised. The stories are quite varied but all of them share a dark sensibility and I am happy to say there are no clunkers.
Josef Hernandez
Jun 13, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One of the better horror anthologies I have read in a while

For a full review, please go to and follow me on Twitter @josenher
Alan Baxter
Oct 29, 2014 rated it it was amazing
My full review here:

Fearful Symmetries, edited by @EllenDatlow – review:
Jun 23, 2014 rated it really liked it
I was a supporter of this book on Kickstarter. I enjoyed all the stories, and have discovered multiple authors to read in the future.
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Ellen Datlow has been an award-winning editor of short science fiction, fantasy, and horror for over twentyfive years.

She is editor of the Best Horror of the Year and has edited or co-edited a large number of award-winning original anthologies. Her most recent are Supernatural Noir, Naked City, Blood and Other Cravings, The Beastly Bride, Teeth, Trolls Eye View, and After (the last three with Ter