Edited by Ellen Datlow and Nick Mamatas
September, 2010; $15.99 Trade Paperback
Out just in time for Halloween is a new anthology by the queen of editors, Ellen Datlow. Assisting her this time is former award-winning Clarksworld magazine editor Nick Mamatas. Haunted Legends focuses on the urban legends from the various contributors stomping grounds.
Richard Bowes kicks it off by transporting Washington Irving’s The Legend of Sleepy Hollow to a modern NY pub and focuses on a group of office workers haunted by a decidedly different ghost. It’s a strong opener and sets the tone for a varied collection. More conventionally, Stephen Pirie riffs on old Springheel Jack and Catlin Kiernan tackles H.P. Lovecraft’s stomping grounds of Providence, Rhode Island and an ages-old vampire legend. Ekaterina Sedia confronts the ghost of Russian communism in the form of a sinister black limousine housing Stalin’s legendary “butcher”. Lily Hoang explores the legend of the fox-girls of Vietnam and the myths surrounding young girls disappearances over the years; Laird Barron contributes a local Olympia, Washington legend of a haunted lake and four women on the cusp of life changes; and in my own neck of the woods, (Portland, Oregon) M.K. Hobson writes about the ghost of a local amusement park. Gary A. Braunbeck rounds it out with “Return to Mariabronn”, an interesting take on the ghostly hitchhiker legend.
More unconventional are “Chucky Comes to Liverpool”, Ramsey Campbell’s blend of a modern horror movie serial killer icon and the longtime “video nasty” outcry in England; and the closing tale from Joe Lansdale, “The Folding Man”. This is a very original premise and easily one of Joe’s creepiest tales since “The God of the Razor”. There are also strong offerings by Jeffrey Ford, Pat Cadigan, Kit Reed, Erzet Yellow Boy, Carrie Laben and others.
This collection features a good mix of newer and established writers with some unique takes on well-known legends, as well as more unconventional myths. Overall, Haunted Legends is a very solid collection.
– Reviewed by James R. Beach