Fallen Boys by Mark Morris
I won’t lie I have a think about mines and basically anything underground. Day to day I am not a claustrophobic person. Not at all. But something about all that stone above, the complete and utter dark just absolutely terrifies me on a deep level. Fallen Boys (note the child centric story again) taps into that fear a little bit by using a field trip to an old mine to tell a ghost story. It isn’t a perfect story and I wish it had taken advantage of its setting a little better. As it stands the supernatural/horrific elements of the story are bit too strongly telegraphed for my taste. You see them coming from miles away thus robbing the story of some of its potential power. Again, this isn’t a bad story but one that doesn’t quite utilize its elements to completely tap into the fear centers of my psyche.
Was She Wicked? Was She Good? by M. Rickert
Here we have another child-centric story and a pretty wicked one at that. Faeries don’t always (I might be willing to say never) have a place in horror fiction but Rickert manages a unique twist on the fae that is chilling. Rickert establishes a strong implied backstory the helps lend a certain emotional weight to the story. The parents of the child in the story have obviously been through the same song and dance more than once and by starting in the middle Rickert is better able to craft an engaging conflict between husband and wife as well as parent and child. As I mentioned there seems to be some sort of implied childhood trauma that prompts the child to act out the way she does (the she of the title) and the story is in a way a rather twisted take on loss of childhood. It is an exaggerated metaphor for growing up that seems to highlight the terrible fact of how we lose our innocence while simultaneously taking a dark look about how the innocence can be just as horrific. An excellent entry and one of the best in this volume.