The UK is blessed with the most remarkable genre small press, with high quality books coming out from small yet notable labels every month. Fox Spirit Books are one those companies that are always winning awards by consistently producing intelligent and interesting genre fiction. Even better, they take the sort of risks that larger labels rarely do. A good example is their recent release, African Monsters.
This anthology does its damnedest to explore the myths and legends from one massive continent. Not only does it do this quite well, but it also showcases the talents of writers you may not have had the chance to read much of. Editor’s Margrét Helgadóttir & Jo Thomas have done a remarkable job of not only assembling a list of thematically strong stories, but also creating a book that flows from story to story in a solid and compelling way.
On The Road by Nnedi Okorafor opens the collection with a tale of someone returning home to realise that they'd forgotten everything they knew about home, and the consequences of such. Gripping and a great start. Impundulu by Joan De La Haye, deals with the consequences of tradition, age and trust, in a way that may well bend the mind of those used to more European style stories. One Hundred And Twenty Days Of Sunlight by Tade Thompson is a lyrical and haunting tale of loss and humanity, whereas Severed by Jayne Bauling turns nature itself into the antagonist, a lovely little horror story and one the highlights of the book.
Other noteworthy pieces include After The Rain by Joe Vaz, which is a solid piece of strange horror and Bennet & Johnson’s comic strip A Divided Sun is short yet powerful. Death Of The One by Su Opperman is a comic strip story and a tale about hunting that uses that unique medium to maximum (if rough) effect. Chikwambo by T. L. Huchu is a short but sweet little horror that feels a bit like an 80's video nasty in places, whereas Monwor by Dilman Dila seems to focus on a more mundane sort of hell. Sarah Lotz's tale, That Woman is typical of Lotz's sharpness and creepy style, and will stay with you for some time after you've read it.
Overall, an absolutely smashing collection, presented in a beautiful format and an excellent way to expand your horizons.
AFRICAN MONSTERS / EDITOR: MARGRÉT HELGADÓTTIR, JO THOMAS / PUBLISHER: FOX SPIRIT BOOKS / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW