Mammoth Book Of Body Horror :Ed by Paul Kane, and MArie O’Regan
25 stories of transformation, mutation and contagion
A gripping collection which offers for the first time a chronological overview of the popular contemporary sub-genre of body horror, from Edgar Allan Poe to Christopher Fowler, with contributions from leading horror writers, including Stephen King, George Langelaan and Neil Gaiman. The collection includes the stories behind seminal body horror movies, John Carpenter’s The Thing, David Cronenberg’s The Fly and Stuart Gordon’s Re-Animator.
When you consider just how many of these Mammoth Books are published each year, it really is amazing that the quality of the stories presented in this edition are of such a high standard. It is a testament to both the writers and the editors, that this the latest in the series has such a high standard of writing. The table of contents reads like a dream team of authors. How the editors decided on which six authors names were featured on the front cover I don’t know. Seriously I would give my left arm, to interview any of the authors featured here. I’m not sure whether Barbie Wilde or David Moody has my left arm, but if they would like to pass it on to the next author, I would be most grateful.
I normally have two way in which I attack an anthology, the first is to go to my favourite author, and the second is to start at the beginning, I usually do this when there are no authors that I am familiar with. TMBODH, threw a spanner into the working of this process, I just didn’t know where to start, other than not starting with Stephen Kings story Survivor Type, hand on heart I have never been a fan of King.
So the honour fell to Barbie Wilde, I had just read one of her stories in another anthology, and I had just finished compiling an interview with her. Barbie’s story Polyp, more than lived up to the task. This a wonderfully disgusting story, that manges to both shock, the reader and make them giggle. Barbie has created a brilliant twist on the creature feature genre. I really enjoyed how the tale went from being a very personal story into an apocalyptic cliff hanger. After reading this story which in all reality was chosen at random, I knew this book was going to be great read.
I’m going to skim over most of the first half of the book, the storeis here are all classic of the genre, from John W. Campbell’s Who Goes \There? Poe’s The Tell Tale Heart, to George Langelaan’s The Fly. . With the exception of The Fly, I had read these before, and it was really enjoyable going back and revisiting these landmark stories. There is very little I can say about these stories that hasn’t been said before, by people better suited to comment on them. One thing I will say, is having these stories altogether in one volume is brilliant
Of the other stories my personal highlights were Christopher Fowler’s The Look, this really was a chilling, and uncomfortable read into the darker side of fashion, and just how far a fashion designer will go to get the look.
Simon Clarke’s, The Soaring Dead, reaffirmed my love for his writing, the twist ending of this story about greed, property, and an ancient mysterious plague was brilliant piece of story telling.
Honourable mentions must go to David Moody’s Almost Forever, and Black Box, by Gemma Files.
The only story that I felt let down by was James Herbert’s Others, it just felt like the someone had taken a couple of chapters out of a novel. It’s been many a year since I last read anything by Herbert, so I was a little disappointed by this story. I had hoped it would reignite an urge to read him again.
As for the aforementioned Stephen King story, Survivor Type, I have to confess I rather enjoyed it. In fact it was so good it almost wiped clean practically a lifetimes dislike of his writing.
The Mammoth Book of Body Horror is a must buy for any horror fan. You would be hard pushed to find a more comprehensive, and satisfying anthology of horror stories this year.