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Your work will betray your secrets. Obsessions, hidden desires, and desperate wishes all woven into the fabric of what we make. A sculpture crafted with longing, a painting of a dream just barely articulated, the craving that cannot speak its name buried in a short film’s score. Old want only spoken aloud through someone else’s voice. Need etched on someone else’s lips for all the world to see. A false self created for the audience to claim as its own, still hiding what it knows.
Through these eighteen stories, dread is the medium of choice, winding its way through each unsettling and terrifying tale about human creation, the artistic follies and triumphs we imbue with so much meaning. You will find artists and audiences alike grappling with confrontations beyond their comprehension, works that require more than careful consideration—sometimes a little bit of blood is necessary. Art is alive if you are. Inside these pages you will be asked to open yourself up like a wound and expose your mind to the darker side of our oeuvre.
I was given a review copy of Collage Macabre in exchange for an honest review.
Many anthologies have a theme but good anthologies have stories that do interesting things with the theme. The theme for Collage Macabre:An Exhibition of Art Horror is that each story has art as a central part of the plot, and every one of these 18 stories does a good job of stretching that theme as much as possible. We have painters and writers, but we also have stories about graffiti, crocheting, sugar blowing, theater, and moviemaking. None of the authors are household names (except for Gemma Amor who writes the introduction), but this is a collection of authors that will be on your bookshelves in the future. Many of these stories are just that good.
Not only are there huge variations on the theme, but there are so many different types of stories. We are given gothic horror, college horror, horror about grief, obsession, and loss, and of course people who receive strange gifts, people who are haunted, and sacrificial rites. All of these stories are so unique to one another that there is no doubt a reader will enjoy some but not others. This is a normal thing in a good anthology. That means there is something for everyone.
Another thing about horror anthologies is that it is easy to forget the stories as soon as I read them. Most of the time when I pull up the table of contents after finishing a collection, I have to go back to certain stories to remind me of what it was about. In this case, I am able to recall these stories without doing this, just by the table of contents. There are so many memorable and impactful stories that I can look at the lists of contents and pick out the stories just by the title. A few of my favorites:
“A Study in Umber” by Jessica Peter. Some rich guys who decide to grind up and drink a lady mummy for inspiration in their artistic endeavors, which of course does not end well for them.
“Lack” by TJ Price. A girl who’s boyfriend paints a picture that is black, and this blackness unsettles everything in their life.
“Breath, Blow, Burn” by Ai Jaing. A sugar blower who becomes part of a statue displayed in a home of a family that is falling apart. They watch it all happen, helpless to stop.
“Station 42” by Erik McHatton. A guy who is gifted an old television, that is either a performance piece or a message to drastically change his life.
“Take it from the Top” by Timothy Lanz. A play is being rehearsed, possibly forever.
There are so many other stories that are great, and the writing and editing in every story is strong. Most of these authors do not have many other stories published. This might be off-putting to some readers, but trust me, there are some future stars here. Many of these stories are ready to be adapted into episodes of Creepshow and Blumhouse films. This collection is impressive, and it should be read by anyone who enjoys good horror and/or good short stories.