Edited by Jeani Rector
Post Mortem Press (January 2015)
Reviewed for Hellnotes
Shrieks and Shivers from The Horror Zine is the third anthology selected from pages of the e-zine by Jeani Rector. Rector is no slouch when it comes to writing horror, with highly respected novels and short stories to her credit, but as an editor and anthologist, she is even better—I might even suggest phenomenal. In five years, she has catapulted The Horror Zine into an innocuous little website into an award-winning e-pub juggernaut, where best-selling scribes (the current issue includes a Piers Anthony story) and lesser-known authors intermingle freely in the table of contents.
The only change from the previous two books is the new publisher, Post Mortem Press. Everything else remains unchanged–Rector has again selected an exceptional collection of the best of the best: 33 stories in a well-balanced collection of emerging writers blended with tales from such luminaries as Joe McKinney, William F. Nolan, Ray Garton, Elizabeth Massie, Tim Waggoner, P.D. Cacek, and Tom Piccirilli. Just to add to the name-dropping, the book also features a foreword by Bentley Little and an introduction from John Russo.
More importantly, there is little repetition in the stories; Rector gleefully bounces from haunted castles to sideshow freaks, from parasitophobics to somniphobics, and from organ harvesting to suicidal sky divers. Even when the standard beasties such as zombies, ghosts, lycanthropes, and witches appear, they are new twists, not the same tired tropes. As one example, “Reflector Eyes” by Garrett Rowlan is a modern retelling of Frankenstein (or Pygmalion and Galatea for the purists). Only instead of spare body parts and a mad scientist, you have spare auto parts and a sculptor, with a little Wizard of Oz on the side.
Bentley Little’s foreword mentions his dismay that this could be the last Horror Zine anthology. I agree. The variety and quality offered by Rector and The Horror Zine is a standard to which other anthologies should strive, and the loss to the horror genre would be immeasurable.