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Jason V Brock and William F Nolan, Editors
The Devil's Coattails
Cycatrix Press
US Hardcover First Edition
ISBN 978-0-9841676-3-0
Publication Date: 01-22-2012
288 pages; $49.95
Date Reviewed: 023-16-2012
Reviewed by: Mario Guslandi © 2012

Index:  Horror  Fantasy  Science Fiction  General Fiction

Eclectic artist and horror enthusiast Jason V. Brock teams up again with horror legend William F. Nolan to produce a sequel to their fortunate anthology 'The Bleeding Edge.'

Once again, the book is a veritable cornucopia for horror fans, featuring a number of accomplished, new horror stories as well as some works of dark poetry, a lost Twilight Zone script and several disquieting drawings and pictures, some by Brock himself, some reproductions of famous artists such as Bosch, Goya, Doré, Ernst and others.

Lovers of real books will find here many reasons for declaring the superior quality and the beauty of a printed volume as opposed to the practical but anonymous layout of an e-book.

As for the fiction itself, I'm happy to say that the book includes a remarkable amount of excellent material.

In Ramsey Campbell's masterful, unsettling "The Moons," a bracelet lost on the beach by a little girl starts a nightmarish adventure involving a group of children.

Co-editor Jason V. Brock contributes "Object Lesson," a perceptive tale featuring a man who tries to cope with sickness and death in his family, while John Shirley provides "Gunboat Whores," the very enjoyable, well crafted portrait of Wyatt Earp as a young man and his adventures on a 'gunboat.'

"Night Food" by Jerry E. Airth is a curious, but effective mix between SF and erotic horror, where mosquitoes play a main role.

In the vivid "Dying to Forget," by Sunni K. Brock, a man experiences various, different deaths…and one too many, while in "On the First Day" by James Robert Smith, a spooky SF piece (or, as the author states a 'paranoid fantasy') God sends aggressive spiders to take care of the human race.

Melanie Tem's "Best Friends" is a poignant, atypical ghost story revolving around the end of a long-lasting friendship, while "Catiwampus" by husband Steve Rasnic Tem offers an original take on the subjects of were-monsters (here we actually have a female were-wildcat) seen from the viewpoint of family members.

Richard Selzer's "Crimean Vespers" is not quite a horror tale but rather a beautiful love story inspired by the works of Anthon Chekov.

And now, on to my two favourite tales. Gary A Braunbeck's masterful "..And Dream of Phaedian Fancies...", conceived as a movie script, probes the mysteries of human nature by showing the chain of events brought about when a bouquet of flowers is left on the steps of an abandoned house.

In the outstanding "The Woods Colt," by Earl Hamner, graced by a superb storytelling, a man visiting his now empty family house recalls painful childhood memories and finds out the truth about himself.

On the whole, the combination of excellent horror fiction and splendid, dark images makes the book an invaluable item to any horror reader.

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