Ross E. Lockhart takes on the role of Victor Frankenstein and in doing so assembles a number of quality contributors to bring forth this anthology of inhuman horror. Lockhart’s press Word Horde is responsible for bringing us a string of consistently quality books over the past few years. Chief editor Ross E. Lockhart certainly has an eye for a great story, and this year I have had the privilege of reading some great Word Horde books from John Langan and Michael Griffin, the latter writer providing a great story that is one of the highlights inside this anthology. The first thing that strikes me about this anthology is the wonderful cover art. Created by Matthew Revert, it is another fantastic piece that I can only imagine in hardcover looks even better.
Anthologies are sometimes difficult to give a rating too. Often there will be stories that really stick out and some that fall a little flat. Many of the stories feature the familiar theme of reanimation, or regeneration of the flesh and most of the contributors do a stellar job of bringing a fresh take on the subject. There is a bit of a false start with the opening two stories with both leaving me a little underwhelmed. They are not bad stories, they just didn’t blow me away as some others did. However, From here on in the book shows great consistency and imagination whilst exploring the Frankenstein mythos. Mike Griffin’s tale ‘The Human Alchemy’, is one of the earlier pieces that stand-out. It tells the tale of a rich couple of surgeons living in a castle, enticing people to their home and taking parts of their bodies for their own. It is a creepy tale, featuring some suitably atmospheric storytelling and a great twist at the end. It is also one of the longer stories in the book, and I really enjoyed it. I really enjoyed the balance of male and female writers inside of this book, and it is the stories by Betty Rocksteady and Tiffany Scandal that really worked for me. With Betty Rocksteady’s ‘Postpatum’, a single mother tries desperately to come to terms with motherhood. She develops a strange hobby collecting dead animal carcasses in an attempt to create something she can be proud of. There is a certain inevitability about this story, but the inevitability certainly doesn’t dilute the endings impact, leaving this reader a little teary eyed. Tiffany Scandal also takes an unusual approach with her story…it looks at a girl called Imelda, who is constantly bullied at school because of the way she looks. It is only a short story but certainly left me feeling emotionally drained and wanting to read more from this talented writer.
It isn’t all about girl power though, Orin Grey came up with a ripper about a TV host called Barron Von Werewolf who plays an old Frankenstein movie…No big drama, only there lies a problem in that past players of this video have all suffered dire consequences. This story kind of read like an old Tales from the Crypt episode. It’s quite campy, but really well-done. The ending turns suddenly quite sinister and dark, leaving a lasting impression. Getting deeper into the collection and another gem came through ‘Wither on the Vine’ by Nathan Carson, This story features Nicola Tesla and a strange experiment that goes horribly wrong! This is an intriguing tale that builds and builds until an ending featuring some wonderfully dark images as the experiment takes an unexpected turn for the worst. The final tale is by David Templeton. He finishes things off with a tale about Mary Shelly that talks about her life and her work. Whilst it is well done it did feel a little too long to me and my I found my attention wavered a little.
My overall thoughts are that this is another fine anthology from Word Horde. Well-written stories, a great gender mix and some really interesting, fresh and original ideas. The body of this anthology (haha, see what I did there?), is brilliant with hit story after hit story, though it just falls short of being a five star anthology due to the stories at the start and the end falling a bit flat for me, personally.
Pick up a copy of ‘Eternal Frankenstein’ from here.