The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror, Part 2

The Finger of Halugra – Manly Wade Wellman
A gentleman is paid to chip off the finger of a carved diety because it is believed to have magical healing powers. I was confused by this story because at first it made it seem like they were in India, but no, they were hunting down a Native American statue somewhere along the Blue Ridge Parkway (at least, that’s the impression I got)

Overall, I was given the impression that this was a newer version of “The Big Toe” (but a Native American version) and was highly entertained by the main character getting squished by a stone statue. It was a decent story, thought it probably would not be popular now due to the over-active Politically Correct dialog most people have happily embraced.

The Toddler – Terry Lamsley
A woman has spent her time slaving over a meal for some jackass who has basically used her as a concubine and has holed her sister up into a collection of rooms, she mutters darkly over everything that has happened and we find…she killed the kid, cooked it, and is about to feed it to the jerk! Woo! Ha! I am highly entertained by that.

Then, a couple hundred years later, they’re renovating the castle/hall/mansion thing and the ghost of the kid decides to attach itself to the only woman in the group of renovators. Though, strangely, she is the only one who can’t see the kid. This destroys her reputation and the evil that helped kill the kid, or at least was part of the reasoning behind it, comes back and…my assumption is he does things? I’m not sure, we’re left with a quote and that’s it. I enjoyed the beginning, was ok with the remainder but didn’t care for the end.

Not Here, Not There – Stephen Gallagher
Guy drives too fast, decides he doesn’t want to die so he hits a kid, slams on his breaks and freaks out. He drives off, telling himself that it’s the mother and kid’s fault for being in the road, it’s the cleaner-truck’s fault for being in the way, and he decides to go home and play it off. His paranoia mounts, he drives faster and faster and ends with the sub/conscious decision to hit a car. It’s kind of like Sisyphus.

The Bungalow House – Thomas Ligotti
All I got from this is some guy listens to some taps about some dude’s dreams. I’m really sorry, I have been attempting to find a story (short or otherwise) of Thomas Ligotti’s that I don’t hate. His work is in a lot of anthologies we have and I just cannot find myself to like his work. To me, it’s like a simpler version of Stephen King and I can’t read Stephen King.

Cradle – Alan Brennert
A vampire figures out a way to have a kid, through taking healthy ova, “recoding” it with her own DNA and watching a surrogate help bring it to life. It was pretty fascinating to read since the story was both new ideas and old ideas mixed together to create this neat little story. It was neat, it was sad, and if I come across this author’s work again, I will definitely read it.

The Sixth Dog – Jane Rice
A veterinarian was taught to write out his problems and get rid of the paper when he was done to put his mind at ease. So he finds himself writing about appeasing his neighbor since his property was accidentally built over his neighbor’s property and he will do anything to make sure nothing takes that 3 ft of space. Over a time, 5 people up and leave for no discernible reason and his neighbor ends up with a new dog. The vet brings up the laughable notion of putting his neighbor in “Frankenstein’s shoes” before dismissing it completely. Makes one wonder what really was going on over there.

Fun story. I enjoyed it.

Scaring the Train – Terry Dowling
Two kids spend their summers playing tricks on the conductors of trains until their last scare of the summer ends up killing a kid. Years later on another continent, the two kids meet up again, somehow get convinced to do it again and this time a girl in the group dies. They take flowers down and attempt to figure out what was going on, why this happened, and one of the original two keeps finding nails at the sight of the deaths.

Eventually he figures out that the reason why they die and he doesn’t is because he has a metal plate. But then all meaning and understanding is lost by the time the story is finished. This is probably from me missing something.  It was still a fascinating story.

La Serenissma – David Sutton
Two sisters are taken to…Venice? to be shown the wonders of the world through art and such with their guardians. So one day they’re free to roam as they please, take a wrong turn and end up in a moldering building which turns out to be a hidden part of the hotel they are staying at.

I was under the impression of reading a Lovecraft story (or even a Lovecraftian story meant for one of the Mythos anthologies). As I was reading this, “Fishwives” (yes, the Ursula Vernon painting), Insmouth, and big frilly dresses came to mind. Also plague masks and a splash of Vincent Price. So it was a good story, even with the bizarre sexy-times part.

The Bars on Satan’s Jailhouse – Norman Partridge
Slick-talking gambler manages to sell his mute daughter to a cannibal and sends her to her doom (dooooooom) with a black man who has boots made of live bats. Ok then. SO we get a western horror-story.

Why, why, why do you have a character who tells his life story to these two characters when he’s a minor character?! I don’t care about the Coyote-Man. I don’t need to know his history or his love of sleeping in a hollow or if he can do a jig or shoot the tail off a coyote a 300 ft. The “white goblin” was weird with his obsession with China and having the gambler’s kid, though I did find the cannibalism part fascinating even if I did question the number of bones left on the plate. In the side-story, they make note that bones were stripped clean, but this way they make it seem like it’s only a handful of bones when there are 28 bones in one foot and considering how small some of these are, shouldn’t the guy have choked? Or something.

The conversation between a dead man and Jesus who are in actuality other dead carcasses roasting on a home-made grill were fascinating. But did the guy’s boots keep him from being roasted, toasted, and burned to a crisp? Or, at least, have enough burning going on to cause him to go into shock to where he would not get up and kill the guy who just checked to see if he was “done yet”? I didn’t care much for the end, I found I didn’t care much for the entire story and I’m glad it’s over.

 

And that’s it for what I’ve got thus far for the Mammoth Book. Now to go bake chicken since it should’ve marinated long enough and see if Jamie’s package has been delivered. I also need to write a decent review for David Morrell’s “Creepers” besides “Squee!”

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