American Nightmare is the first short story anthology from Kraken Press, featuring ten excellent pieces of horror fiction by exceptionally talented writers who explore the hellish underbelly of a 50’s America that could be. Featuring dysfunctional families dabbling in the occult, strange magic woven in the alleys of Hollywood, unspeakably monstrous acts along the 38th parallel and all the Marilyns you can eat, American Nightmare was a very fortunate blind buy for me.
The writers that make up this anthology each play to their strengths, putting together a black and white nightmare that develops behind the picket fences. Max Booth is his usual, highly unsettling self, Rachel Andig sets up her bastards that like to stare at us in the face and make us queasy before she drops the hammer, Coulter and Parenti like to skew reality, letting it fray at the edges so the creepy-crawlies can hiss at us, and M.P. Johnson, well… M.P. Johnson is the best at what he does and what he does can make your skin crawl.
George Cotronis pulls out all the stops with his cover art, which not only serves to sum up the anthology’s theme perfectly, but adds all the great things we’ve come to associate with 50’s themed horror within a single frame. From alien invaders to unspeakable god-beasts to cherry-red Cadillacs, it’s got it all.