From my reading experiences horror is probably the toughest genre to succeed in. It's much more suited to a TV or cinema screen where you can combine emotions with visuals and sound. I can count on one hand the number of times literature has genuinely managed to unnerve me (and that's not quite the same as scaring).
To be honest, I don't think much of the likes of Ligotti, an author who gets touted as the best writer of horror currently in existence (though perhaps only because Ligotti's collections seem so hit and miss from the ones I've read). None the less, Evenson, even if he doesn't match Ligotti when he's at his best, still gives a good showing here. These stories are uniformly pretty good. I don't think any in particular stand out as stronger or weaker than the rest, they're all solid. None of them made me uncomfortable when reading them but Evenson creates a good atmosphere throughout each and his prose is nice and direct.
Nothing revelatory then but I think Evenson does a good job with a very tough genre and I wouldn't mind reading more of his output.
"I had, Bentham claimed, fallen into a sort of fugue state, in which the world moved past me more and more rapidly, a kind of blur englobing me at every instant."
The most mature work from Evenson to date, the stories nestle against each other perfectly. Less shocking horror, more haunting, these tales are comic, bizzare, cathartic but always chilling. Connected through a theme of dissociation these 19 stories are shot through with isolation, jarring events and the disintegration of self. One of my favourites deals with two sisters and one insignificant childhood event, forgotten by one who just cannot understand why the other is so traumatised. Evenson's expertly crafted language ensures this simple tale is deeply evocative. However it is in complete contrast to my other favourite: Fugue State, a cold, clever ,circular tale with an arresting plot that superbly epitomises its title. A highly recommend it for all fans of dark tales.