One thing I would like to make perfectly clear about this anthology: it’s rough. Not as in it’s a solid first attempt by a new editor. It’s rough in the sense that a lot of its stories carry that specific kind of cruelty in what I like to call ‘clinging’ horror stories. Stories that tend to leave you feeling sad, alienated or just make you cringe in horror long after you’ve put down the book.
From stories about casual child-on-child abuse to tales from perpetual African civil wars to a short tale of a creature that was never meant to be, Silent Screams boasts a lot of horrific variety without resorting to any of the usual cliches in horror fiction. Yes, a few of the stories lean toward some good old tropes, but the authors have done a great job with turning them on their heads.
There might be readers that could be turned away by the byline, however: “socially-conscious dark fiction” did sound preachy when I got my hands on the copy but I was pleasantly surprised. The editor did a good job of picking smart, subtle stories that hammer their point home without bashing you over the head with it. Emory Watts has also done a stellar job with the interior art and the anthology’s haunting cover.
Some of the stories were a bit on the nose, however. It makes sense since subtlety is something that takes skill, but even those stories did have a solid narrative and a good plot with a lot of creepy scenes thrown in.
So if you’ve had your fill of conventional Lovecraftian terror and want to try something other than regular old horror, give Silent Screams a try. It will be worth your time.
Silent Screams Anthology is scheduled to be published by Serpent and Dove in October 31st