I love short stories. There was a time when my morning routine consisted in sitting at the small table I had in the kitchen with a hot cup of tea in my hands and my eyes fixed on the Daily Science Fiction. It’s a memory buried in the past now (kids, you know the deal), but I still try to find a good short story whenever I can. So when Anomalies & Curiosities came out, I just I had to read it. Horror short stories with anatomy and medicine as a theme? I was sold. And I knew some of the authors from a previous Quill & Crow anthology (poetry this time), so I was curious to see how well they’d fare with prose.
A new adventure in gothic fiction, Anomalies & Curiosities features ten terrifying tales of the medically macabre. A collection that explores the intricacies of the human psyche, leaving you with the curious sense of dread that only gothic horror can achieve.
Featuring the talent of Brad Acevedo, David Andrews, R.A. Busby, Marie Casey, Spyder Collins, Roland Garrety, Rebecca Jones-Howe, Jeremy Megargee, Nick Petrou, and Cassandra L. Thompson.
The cover is a beauty in itself, which is always pleasant. It’s one of those covers delicate enough, intriguing enough that you just have to have it in your bookshelf. As beautiful as it is though, it is outshined by how incredible the stories are.
Yes, they are creepy. Yes, there is a lot of gore. Some of them are surreal, some make you cringe. Some make you empathize to the point that you want to scream. A couple made me feel grateful for living in the 21th century. One made me smile in a oh-that’s-a-match-made-in-hell kind of way. What they all have in common besides the theme is that they are beautiful. They lure you in a world that’s fascinating, scary and compelling.
Each story has a unique voice and a very distinctive style, and they are very different even when the topic is similar: the gothic tropes are there, but the words the authors use to create their magic are extraordinarily personal. And they are so immersive; these stories feel real and raw. If they were adapted into short films, they would be the ones you watch hidden under a blanket, peering every now and then because you’re fascinated but you’re also too overwhelmed to actually look at the screen. Which is the point of horror, right? Job accomplished!
Another point in favor of this book is that it’s not easy to forget. I’ve finished reading it almost a week ago now and I remember it as if I had just closed it. It’s not only because of the gore; these stories resonated with me in a way that I didn’t think was possible. Do I have favorites? Yes, a couple of them will stick with me for a long time, but they were all really good and deserve a read.
While the stories in this anthology are perfect in every aspect, I’ve also found some typos here and there. It happens, and in my opinion it’s not really a big deal: you’re bound to find typos in any kind of book (which reminds me of the time I read a cookbook by a famous chef and I kept finding a mistranslated ingredient over and over, but that’s a story for another time.) Anyway, this is the reason why it took me quite some time to decide how to rate Anomalies & Curiosities, because I was torn between giving it 4.5 and 5 stars. In the end, I’ve decided that the stories are just too good and deserve the highest rating possible, so 5 stars it is.
Congratulations everyone, I can’t wait to read more of your works.