Fiction Reviews

The Monster's Corner

(2011) Christopher Golden (editor), Piatkus, trdpbk, £10.00, 388pp ,ISBN 978-0-749-95785-8


The basis behind this anthology is to give the point of view of the monsters. In this past, this has resulted in some great novels such as Interview with the Vampire, Grendel and Wicked. In the introduction, Christopher Golden says that he didnít want any stories with vampires or zombies. Werewolves donít turn up either. So the scope is open for a more diverse range of creatures.

Some of the monsters are human, in three of the stories. Of these, the best is 'Rue' by Lauren Groff, a retelling of Rapunzel. It gives a new location for the story and a sense of sadness for the narrator.

While the three most popular types of monsters are not represented, there some familiar names.'Torn Stiches, Shattered Glass' by Kevin J Anderson, uses Frankensteinís monster. The Devil gets a chance to expand on his philosophy in 'Jesus and Satan go jogging in the desert' by Simon R. Green. The most interesting use of a famous monster is in 'The Screaming Room' by Sarah Pinborough. It takes a figure from mythology and puts them in a decaying setting, waiting for the victims that will relive its loneliness.

This last story highlights the strength of the anthology. A chance for the unfamiliar to be explored in terms of point of view or in their use. 'Ratter and the Mothman' by Sharyn McCrumb, gives a new origin for the title monster. 'The Awkward Age' by David Liss is about a ghoul looking for a helper. 'Specimen 313' by Jeff Strand, offers a love story between two plant monsters. 'Less of a Girl' by Chelsea Cain creates its powerful impact through the clear economical descriptive writing.

The two stories that I consider the highlights of the collection are 'The Cruel Thief of Rosy Infants' by Tom Piccirilli and 'And Still You wonder Why our First Impulse is to Kill You' by Gary A Braunbeck. The former is the story of a fairy designated and treated as a pariah in his society for his task of swapping human infants with changelings. When one of these exchanges goes wrong, he attempts to reverse it. The second has the narrator forced to take down a collection of facts, complaints and bestiary entries on behalf of creatures. It is inspired, frightening, imaginative and one of the best stories of 2011.

Admittedly not all of the stories are up to this standard. There are some that are not as radical in their conception and the execution as they could be. Or they strive for an emotional impact that they do not quite reach within the reader. However none of them are actually badly written, more victims of standards being set so high.

In conclusion, I would say that this anthology is defiantly worth seeking out, for the quality of the work within. Hopefully, there will be further collections with this premise, as I feel that it could easily become a regular series.

David Allkins

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