What’s most unnerving—and often, as above, insightful—about these rich entries is how close they are to our own reality, often reading less like tales of fantastical terror or allegorical cautions than straight-up foreshadowing. Wrath James White’s poem “Colorblind” delves into calls for society to be more colorblind in response to overt systemic racism experienced the world over, with the final line being, “I wish / I was never reminded / that you / and I / are different.” Elin Olausson’s stinging “Swan Song” turns on a surprising glimpse of life–and danger–in a dying land.
Horror fans will be excited to see Stephen King himself offering “Strawberry Spring,” a story that faces what lies beneath the masks we all wear, while Bird Box author Josh Malerman’s “There Are No Basements in the Bible” finds tension, resonance, and crack dialogue in a child’s forced playdate—and a staring contest. These big names are welcome, but one shivery pleasure of the series is Bailey’s championing of new talent, as up-and-comers offer many of this edition’s best. Bailey notes in an introduction that this anthology will be his last. While readers will inevitably find some entries here hit or miss, the hits outnumber the rest—here’s hoping he relents.
Takeaway: A strong collection of horror-tinged stories that urge us to look at the world anew.
Great for fans of: Pellucid Lunacy, The Valancourt Book of World Horror Stories.
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: A