Stephen Jones is one of the most reliable figures in horror literature today. Jones’ involvement in a project is almost a guarantee that the project is going to be worth your time, so it was with some excitement that we got our hands on Horrorology: A Lexicon of Fear.
As the name suggests, this is a horror anthology that brings together some of the more diverse voices from the horror writing community. The theme is words that evoke horror and fear, and though this is a pretty loose theme for an anthology, Jones has curated this collection to create a highly readable and accessible collection of spooky stories that will stay with the reader for days.
They are some nice touches; each story is prefaced by an illustration from master of fear himself, Clive Barker, and we get a definition of the cue word. The book is packed with notable authors throughout; this isn’t a book that just has one well-known writer on the front and a lot of less well-known types. Instead, each tale is worth the collection on its own.
We kick off with Robert Shearman’s Accursed, an excellent tale of family secrets and the fear of clowns. Clive Barker then chips in with Afraid, a rather explicit and short piece of work that contains Barker’s trademark mix of lust and fear. Michael Marshall Smith jumps in with Afterlife, a story all about being careful what you wish for.
Pat Cadigan takes the word Chilling to a new level, mixing fear with freezing, and Decay by Mark Samuels carries on the theme of wisdom, greed and folly that intertwines its way through this anthology. Other highlights include Joanne Harris’s take on the word Faceless, Kim Newman’s expansion of his Anno Dracula world with the word Guignol, and a great little tale from Muriel Grey on the nature of celebrity.
Horrorology: A Lexicon of Fear is the book to give the horror fan in your life this Christmas, it’s simply that good. It also helps that the hardback is a lovely looking thing crammed with spooky illustrations. Recommended.