on 27 April 2014
This prose short story anthology is, like most such collections, a mixed bag of goodies. I found some stories really not up to par, but that's more than made up for by the good tales, making it an overall worthy read, if you can still find the book somewhere, or better yet as a digital copy.
The best of the bunch is by Stephen R. Bissette, who prices himself a great writer as well as an excellent artist. His take of star-crossed love and a hungry, perverse evil is brilliant and so deeply layered and multi-faceted that it takes you aback, rightfully and pleasantly so. Its mixture of pure unsettling horror and humanity offs something I've rarely seen, let alone enjoyed to such an extent.
A close second is Brian Hodge's account of a battle reenactment gone wrong, which in perfect Hellboy tradition is mixed with some real folklore that I won't spoil for you. The writing alone is excellent in pacing, wording and Imagery.
Both stories are also very much in tune with Hellboy's universe and character, making it at the same time a welcome addition and a perfect introduction to this no-nonsense demon brought up as a human. A brilliant metaphor for the daily struggle to be human against all odds, and a constant reflection on what it is that makes us human, or what it takes to rip us out of humanity.
Honourable mentions are next, for Poppy Z. Brite, Christopher Golden and Mike Mignola himself, Rick Huatala and Jim Connolly, Greg Rucka, who presented very enjoyable and very week-written tales all. Therefore, congratulations as well to Christopher Golden for editing this book.
In conclusion, I can't help but mention the sparse artwork: Mike Mignola's chapter illustrations are, as usual, breath-taking, and the cover itself is delicate and humorous at once like free others manage; but it's the introductory cartoon by Playboy legend Gahan Wilson that takes the cake, do funny it is!