Monday, October 05, 2009

Dark Delicacies III: Haunted, Edited by Dell Howison and Jeff Gelb

Dark Delicacies III (paperback): Haunted Dark Delicacies III (paperback): Haunted by Del Howison

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Dark Delicacies III: Haunted is a hard book for me to review. It was very well done technically, but I did not enjoy as many of the stories as I hoped I would. Fundamentally, this is because I don't really care for type of horror showcased in a good number of these stories. In fact, I felt a mild sense of frustration as I read these stories, digging deep to find how the concept of 'haunted' applied to some of the tales. I think that afterword by Mr. Howison probably should have been at the beginning of this book. In this afterward, called "One Last Bother," Mr. Howison goes into the rational for choosing the stories in Haunted. He implies that meaning for haunted as applied to this stories is the concept of an event staying on your mind, or memories or visions coming back to 'seek vengeance.' In light of this interpretation, I supposed I can give some slack and accept that this could apply loosely to some of the stories.

My lack of enjoyment relates to the fact that many of the commonly used tropes of modern horror do not appeal to me. In fact some of these stories hit my two of my top three no-no's when it comes to horror: 1)serial killer aka human monsters, and 2)cannibalism. I liked to formally add 'body horror' to that list. I really dislike stories with mutilation of the body, whether it's self-inflicted or done by someone else. I can't even say which is worse for me.

I dislike stories about psychopathic killers wreaking havoc on their victims. Yes, this is horror. However, it's not the kind of horror I prefer. I also don't care for stories with mentally ill people performing horrible acts on their person. This is a type of 'body horror,' which gives me the creeps. And last but not least, cannibalism is one of the aspects of horror guaranteed to make me more disgusted than afraid.

There were some very creative stories in this volume, in fact, most of the stories were well-written and creative. But few of them were enjoyable to read. You may ask how one can enjoy reading horror. Well I enjoy getting a thrill, the suspense of wondering what is going to happen next. Holding my breath and hoping that the hero makes it out alive. Reading about supernatural occurences that take me outside of my everyday norm. That is great fun for me. The above. Not Fun!

So these are the stories I liked (without giving too much away):

Mist on the Bayou by Heather Graham
--Great story, although there were some pacing issues.
A Haunting by John Connolly
--Not scary, just sad. But beautiful.
A Nasty Way to Go by Ardath Mayhar
--A traditional ghost story, just the way I like them.
The Flinch by Michael Boatman
--Insanely entertaining and horrific at the same time. I want to read more of his stories.
Do Sunflowers Have a Fragrance by Del James
--Very interesting look at a woman being stalked
The Wandering Unholy by Victor Salva
--Just deserts comes to mind.
Man with a Canvas Bag by Gary A. Braunbeck
--Very sad, but compelling twist on a ghost story
The Architecture of Snow by David Morrell
--Takes a while for the resolution, but a must read for those who are interested in publishing and the literary fiction world.

The other stories weren't to my taste or I didn't like the way things unfolded. Be warned because some of these stories are quite disturbing. Not to the degree that I skipped parts, but not for a sensitive reader.

I can't say I wasted my money. The fact that I finished this volume in about 48 hours speaks for itself. The writers are all very talented and do know horror. Unfortunately some of them pushed my unhappy horror buttons, so I guess it's more me than them. So if you don't have as stringent tastes for your horror, I imagine you will have a lot of fun with these stories.

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