on 8 June 2012
I think it's fair to say that for the recent past, I've avoided quite a lot of vampiric fiction, perhaps as a bit of a knee-jerk reaction to Twilight-mania which seems to have swept the globe. My faith in this classic horror archetype has gradually been restored through reading the likes of Kim Newman's Anno Dracula, William Meikle's The Watchers Omnibus, Justin Cronin's epic The Passage; and viewing the likes of Stake Land.
Now against that background, I was drawn to Best New Vampire Tales (Vol I), a 2011 anthology of stories featuring those cursed creatures of the night, vampires.
This vampire anthology brings together the assorted talents of some of the finest genre writers that we have today and the short stories contained within are perfect for anyone looking to get back into horror books but has neither the time nor patience for something more voluminous. These short stories are by and large pacy, engaging and entertaining.
My main criticism of this book is the use of the word "new" in the title. Indeed, many of the stories have been conjured up within the last one to five years but the oldest of them are from the early 90s, about twenty years ago.
However, this does not detract from the quality of the work here, which NY Times bestselling author Jonathan Maberry has described as "Best New Vampire Tales goes for the throat with chilling and innovative new takes on the undead. Highly recommended for the bloody-minded!"
With Best New Vampire Tales Matt Hults starts proceedings with his North American vampire story, Through the Valley of Death.
From there, the reader is taken through a variety of twists on the vampire legend from the sublime to the ridiculous via the distinctly average, coupled with Hults' effort, here are some that are worthy of note:
John F.D. Taff introduces us to the unlikeliest vampire hunter in the form of Buddy Burnett in Cold Calls.
A Candle Lit In Sunlight by Bram Stoker Award winner David Niall Wilson offers a vampiric spin on the story of Jesus and may be a bit controversial for more conservative readers but is well worth reading.
With Morning Sickness, William Meikle brings a short, sharp, shocking vampire story to Scotland and conjures up a yarn worthy of an episode of The Twilight Zone.
Bram Stoker Award winner John Everson's When Barrettes Brought Justice to a Burning Heart shows the price a desperate man is willing to pay in order to visit fanged vengeance on those who wronged him.
David M. Fitzpatrick's Sabbatarian brings some action-horror to the proceedings.
Endless Night by Barbara Roden is a wonderful vampire tale, set in the time of polar adventurers such as Scott and Shackleton and for me was evocative of passages from Shelley's Frankenstein; and I am very much of the opinion that this story deserves a little more fleshing out to become a novel in its own right.
I found some of the entries in this anthology a little below par but this could be due to the fact that they are nestled alongside some of the stories I have mentioned above! There is no question that all of the works in Best New Vampire Tales are well-written and much to my relief, there's not a sparkly, emo vampire in sight.