“The Year’s Best Horror Stories 4”

In Diana Gabaldon’s “Outlander” series, druid circles are conveniently used as time portals. They perform the same service In “Forever Stand the Stones,” by Joe Pumilla, an ambitious historical link-a-thon in which blood sacrifice somehow ties Catullus, Dracula, and Jack the Ripper. “Forever Stands the Stones” depicts an eternal, horrifying Romanesque London that would have pleased Arthur Machen. It’s a lovely artifact to stumble across as I skip through the series of “Year’s Best Horror Stories”, (Volume 4 is from 1976) Giants of the era Rampsey Campbell and Brian Lumley provide fine entries, but the little dark comic triumph of craft here is  Avram Davidson’s darkly hilarious “And Don’t Forget the One Red Rose.” An essay trying to bridge subjective characterization in differing biographies of H. P. Lovecraft is oddly included, but it does provide some food for though as to how we insist on turning human beings other than ourselves into static monoliths for ease of classification . (“Lovecraft was mean to me!” Says W. “Lovecraft was the nicest to me!” Says X. “I saw Lovecraft at a party once, hardly drank, kept to himself, very quiet man.” Says Y. “I saw Lovecraft at a party once, got so drunk, life of the party!” Says Z.)  It always amazes me how people believe that mundane interactions give them access to someone else’s intimate complexities.

RATING : MIXED, like the majority of anthologies; COOL! overall.

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