Monday, November 1, 2010

Haunted Legends

Book 61: Haunted Legends edited by Ellen Datlow and Nick Mamatas, isbn 9780765323019, 347 pages, Tor, $15.99

I have never been disappointed with any anthology edited, or co-edited, by Ellen Datlow, and HAUNTED LEGENDS continues that trend. While there are a few stories in this collection that didn't really work for me, the majority of them did.

The theme is exactly what the title implies: those local, "home-grown" tales of hauntings and other oddness that you often find retold in poorly-edited "local legends" tomes sold in airports kiosks and tourist-trap gift shops. Datlow and Mamatas' edict to the participants in this anthology was to rescue those local legends from poorly-written retellings and to give them new life -- to make them universal while not sacrificing their local flavor. And most of the authors succeed.

There are 20 stories in the collection. My favorites are "As Red as Red" by Caitlyn R. Kiernan, "Shoebox Train Wreck" by John Mantooth, "Tin Cans" by Ekaterina Sedia, "Return to Mariabronn" by Gary A. Braunbeck, "The Redfield Girls" by Laird Barron, "Between Heaven and Hull" by Pat Cadigan, and "Chucky Comes to Liverpool" by Ramsey Campbell. With the exception of the Kiernan and Campbell stories, they all have to do with transportation-related ghosts -- something I didn't realize until I listed them all together like this. There are a couple of stories that disappointed me, notably "The Folding Man" by Joe R. Lansdale and "Down Atsion Road" by Jeffrey Ford, but not every collection can be perfect.

Even though Halloween is over as of a few minutes ago here on the east coast, I recommend seeking this collection out if you like "local legends" and "home-grown ghosts." It's worth the effort.

More detailed story-by-story analysis can be found here and here.

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