New Traditions in Terror by various authors (edited by Bill Purcell)

The Traditions of the title refers to the scares of yesteryear: the vampires, werewolves, demons, psychopaths and other bad guys from the history of horror. And the New is a reaction against those who would claim that these monsters have said all they can possibly say, that their tales have been re-invented, imitated and expanded upon throughout the years to the degree that nothing more of interest can be said. Well, I’m still a sucker for those old B-movies, so I’m with Bill, the editor.

I dove in with great enthusiasm, and now that I’ve come out the other end, was it worth the trip? The answer is a somewhat hesitant yes. For whilst there are many good stories in here, there are many clunkers too. Here are the ones that stood out for me.

“Afraid of the Water” by Robynn Clairday. A story about a woman who is afraid of water finally reaching out and putting her trust in someone to teach her to swim.

“Cry of the Red Wolf” by Ken Goldman. Expecting werewolves? Think again. The horror in this story comes from a most unexpected angle.

“Cargo” by Sean Logan. Call me sentimental, but I just love a good zombie story.

“Hooked” by Mike Oakwood. On the surface, this is a simple tale about what it’s like to be inside a werewolf’s head. On a deeper level, it’s a story about temptation and selfishness and appetite and guilt – things which we’re all very familiar with. Hot story!

“Bottom Feeders” by Scott H. Urban. A dirty, gritty snapshot from the lives of a couple of vampires. Reads like an excerpt from a larger work. Left me wanting more.

There are no big names in this volume, which I kind of liked. It must be tempting for an editor to turn down a rubbish story by a top author, because the author’s name itself is a huge selling point. That said, we can be sure that all the stories in here made it on merit alone. But for my taste, so many of them just lacked any real punch. With seventeen tales in the volume, I had hoped for a bit more excitement per square inch.

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