The Black Book of Horror - Paul Finch, Charles Black (Editor),  Contribution by Gary McMahon,  Contribution by Mark Samuels

For my full length review, and reviews of individual stories, please visit Casual Debris.

Appropriately dedicated to Herbert van Thal (1904-1983), the legendary British editor of the Pan Book of Horror series as well as numerous other original and reprint anthologies of the 1960s, 70s and early 80s, The Black Book of Horror features some great, inspired writing.

The book itself is very handsome. The cover art by Paul Mudie is gorgeous; the facial expression combined with the smooth backdrop and warm colours is enticing. The pages of the book he is holding are exquisitely and minutely detailed, and there is a glow on the figure and his chair as though he were facing a fireplace. He is looking directly at us, and I get the impression that I am facing this man, the fireplace between us, to my left, and I can feel the warm blaze as I look into the deathly gaze of this near skeletal host. I don't dare move, so remain tight in my own seat, somewhat on edge should I need suddenly to bolt, and listen to the tales he is about to share with me.

And for the most part these tales are very good; in fact, this is the strongest anthology I have read in any genre so far this year. There are no true duds in here though there are a couple of weaker stories, and only one that I did not like.

My overall favourite piece was Paul Finch's "The Wolf at Jessie's Door," while other stronger ones include the lead-in story "The Crows" by Frank Nicholas, David A. Sutton's "Only in Your Dreams," Daniel McGachey's "'Shalt Thou Know My Name?'," David A. Riley's "Lock-In," and editor Charles Black's "To Summon a Flesh Eating Demon." The single story I did not like is Sean Parker's "The Sound of Muzak."