A Review of Year's Best Weird Fiction, Vol. 2, edited by Kathe Koja & Michael Kelly

Weird Gets Noir
This is the second in an annual series that’s fast becoming, on the strength of this showing, a gold standard in contemporary weird fiction. No surprise, given the pedigree of Undertow Publications and series editor Michael Kelly. Each volume is collated by a different guest editor, and this time it’s Kathe Koja. “Part of the excitement comes from comparing and contrasting each year’s volume,” says Kelly in his Foreword. I don’t know what I expected from a volume curated by Kathe Koja, but what we get is notably raw and jolting. Often right from the opening line. “He didn’t even know he was dead. I had just shot this guy in the head and he’s still standing there giving me shit,” begins Nathan Ballingrud’s blistering N’awlins occult noir, “The Atlas of Hell,” which opens and pretty much sets the tone for the whole volume.

A Review of Skein and Bone, by V.H. Leslie

by Paul St. John Mackintosh
Exquisitely disturbing tales
V.H. Leslie is an artist and printmaker, as well as a very fine writer, and a member of England’s Omega Printmakers in Portsmouth. The fourteen dark and weird stories in this first collection are as finely crafted as you’d expect from her background, and as mysteriously suggestive as any cryptic design. Her work has been compared to Shirley Jackson or M.R. James, but is completely modern in its fantastic, surreal flavor.

Another Country Doctor, fiction by Andrew S. Fuller

* His shoulders sprouted stalks that bloomed azure honeycomb shapes whose openings sang like river reeds. The blond color of his hair replaced itself with a mosslike green, whose strands often swayed as though in a passing current. THE LARGEST RESIDENCE in Flatwater was undoubtedly the Sherborne house, an embellished two-storey homestead in the Queen […]

Review of Wylding Hall by Elizabeth Hand

by Paul St. John Mackintosh A Folk Rock Frightener in England Elizabeth Hand, a prize-winning New York-born author who lives in Maine, has produced one of the best English mystery tales for many a day. “It began as a riff on Daphne DuMaurier’s Rebecca,” she has said elsewhere, and the riff developed into a mesmerizing […]

Cabinet of Wonders: Menagerie of Weird Creatures

web fiction reviews by Lauren Colie Open the door into a menagerie for this week’s Cabinet. Strange beings and strange people populate the shelves, each a curio for us to consider. There are questions about ethics, character and love wrapped up in bizarre, two-headed and three-footed packages. Don’t forget: there’s always more than meets the […]

Up the Fire Road (part two), fiction by Eileen Gunn

* “Was I on some kind of strange drug? Was I in the woods at all? Was I at my mom’s house, and having some kind of a psychotic episode?” Read PART ONE of “Up the Fire Road” HERE.   Andrea Mickey wasn’t bad in bed. He was younger than I had thought, and he […]

Up the Fire Road (part one), fiction by Eileen Gunn

* “If life seems slow and meaningless, go somewhere where you depend on Christy to get you back.” (“Up the Fire Road” originally appeared in Eclipse One.) Andrea The main thing to understand about Christy O’Hare is he hates being bored. Complicated is interesting, simple is dull, so he likes to make things complicated. Used […]

Cabinet of Wonders: Cons, Scabs and Swarms

web fiction reviews by Lauren Colie Wide open skies, sprawling Western states and the tippy-top of the atmosphere. Here, we can spend time wondering who we are — this week, we’re taking field trips. Run across plains, climb mountains, soar skyward, abandon work and embark on a Kerouacian exploration of self and society. Let the […]

Cabinet of Wonders: Letters from the Dead

Disappearing Dads, Time Traveling Doctors, and Letters from the Dead Web Fiction Reviews by Lauren Colie It seems a little abnormal to find a Lauren and a Loren writing fabulous fiction this week (with reviews written by a Lauren). What is normal, anyway? Is it polos and boat shoes? Is it the desire to fix […]

Cabinet of Wonders: Feral Mail, Hungry Curtains & Fork Phobia

web fiction reviews by Lauren Colie I’m moving. Packing up all of my possessions, all of me, and claiming a new spot as my home. It only makes sense that I’m seeing signs of change all over the place — including this week’s Cabinet picks. See how relocating shakes up more than just coordinates and […]