Monday, December 27, 2010
M IS FOR MONSTER
Edited by John Prescott
How come no one ever had this idea before? Or at the very least, taking it to this level? I mean I love monsters, you love monsters, and everyone who is remotely likes the horror genre loves monsters. So three cheers to John Prescott for coming up with the idea and compiling 26 short stories, each based off of a different creature and each corresponding to a letter in the alphabet. Instead of an anthology focused on one of the big bad beasties that goes bump in the night, like we usually get, we have a complete smorgasbord of slithery things, many of which you never see stories about. So this book is a cracking idea, but is it any good?
Well with 26 very short stories, the shortest being just four pages and the longest at fourteen, coving such a wide range of monsters, there are going to be hits and misses. The good news is when the story works, they are great. When they don’t, they don’t miss the mark by far. Out of the tales, only two of them did I really not care for. That’s a pretty good batting average.
I wasn’t thrilled about the story titles being only letters of the alphabet. I guess that might have been done to keep the identity of the monster appearing in the story a secret, but a clever title could accomplished the same thing and would have been more memorable.
I loved liked the number of obscure and off the wall creatures collected here. I mean, do you even know what a XyX, Kul, or a Fatback No Neck is? No, I didn’t think so. Also, I loved the usual monster that came to mind when thinking of a letter of the alphabet is often not the one used. For example; Z doesn’t stand for zombie, there are no werewolves or witches found under W, and while I was sure I would be reading about ghouls under the letter G, I was quite happily surprised at what was there instead. Unfortunately, V did stand for vampires and it wasn’t bad, but still…yawn.
The highlights for me were Adrian Chamberlin’s “W” set around the horrors of World War 2 and about things more deadly than Nazis. Simon Kurt Unsworth’s very weird story where the “N” stands for the horrible, dreaded, unimaginable evil…noodles! The “L” of Aaron J French’s story is about the living dead. I tell you that without ruining this great shocker. Even editor John Prescott pulls double duty by contributing his own demonic story, “D”.
There are plenty of other hidden gems to be discovered here. Form the traditionally monstrous yet usually overlooked beasts like Incubi, the Jabberwocky, and the horsemen of the apocalypse, to the completely unexpected such as the bible’s Goliath, elephants, and the scariest things of all; parents. If you are looking for a who’s who of horrors with stories that range from graphically violent, to chillingly moody, to darkly humorous, then M IS FOR MONSTERS is the book for you.
Buy it here: M is for Monster
Reviewed by Brian M. Sammons