Valancourt Books has been doing good work for a long time. The Virginia-based press republishes out-of-print of hard to find horror as well as publishing lines based on histories like Paperbacks from Hell: The Twisted History of ‘70s and ‘80s Horror Fiction by Grady Hendrix and Monster She Wrote: The Woman Who Pioneered Horror and Speculative Fiction by Lisa Kröger and Melanie R. Anderson. Valancourt is a fountain of esoteric horror stories, and The Valancourt Book of World Horror Stories Vol. 1 makes an excellent addition to that tradition.
Edited by Valancourt’s publishers James D. Jenkins and Ryan Cagle, this edition kicks off what will hopefully be a long-running series with twenty-one stories from eighteen countries and five continents.
The range of authors means that the stories have no discernible theme or continuity. “Pale Toes” by Marko Hautala— the story of a Finnish couple traveling abroad getting tricked into drunkenly spelunking—is followed by “Kira” by Martin Steyn—the story of a dog and a succubus struggling over the life of a man visiting his family’s cottage. The juxtaposition makes the difference in tone and content between the stories stick out.
The best story in the collection is “The Time Remaining” by Attila Veres. In that tale, a young boy’s mother tells him his favorite plush toy is terminally ill. He goes to great lengths to preserve its life as he provides it with end-of-life care. Veres both frightens and enlightens, illustrates the way growing up robs children of their joy.
While The Valancourt Book of World Horror Stories Vol. 1 does excellent work assembling and translating a unique group of stories, twelve of the stories are from Europe while only one comes from Asia. To be fair, Jenkins and Cagle acknowledge their limitations—only speaking fifteen languages—and, “with nearly 200 countries in the world and some 7,000 living languages, there is no way to include a comprehensive selection of all the world’s horror fiction in one volume” (13).
What they have assembled here is an impressive group of stories. Some are terrifying. Others are hilarious. Not every story in the collection is perfect, but the English-language speaking world is better for reading them.
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|Pub Date: December 08, 2020||Page Count: 428pp||Age Range: 16 & Over|
|ISBN: 9781948405645||Publisher: Valancourt Books||List Price: $19.99|