Sunday, 20 April 2008

The Dark Side: Truly Terrifying Tales

The Dark Side: Truly Terrifying Tales selected by Susan Price, Kingfisher, 265 pages, paperback,
ISBN 978-0-7534-1538-2 [New Zealand agents:South Pacific Books]

The two dozen tales gathered in The Dark Side are truly terrifying; each displaying the skilful narrative technique vital to good horror stories. Susan Price (creator of the Sterkarm series) has chosen widely; her selection includes Beowulf (in Eleanor Farjeon’s version), Stephen King and Philip K. Dick, as well as the cream of British writers for young adults. There is also humour in some of the horror. Michael Palin and Terry Jones present a pythonesque frolic in The Famous Five Go Pillaging, while John Steinbeck makes chewing gum truly terrifying.
The classics include Gabriel-Ernest, Saki’s witty tale of cannibalism and Edgar Allan Poe’s The Cask of Amontillado - a tale which Jack Lasenby once used to terrify a camp of young deerstalkers. Nor are dogs overlooked Leon Garfield uses a dog as the narrator of A Grave Misunderstanding, a grim little tale of mistaken identity with alarming consequences. A well-chosen collection.

Trevor Agnew

This review was first published in The Press, Christchurch in 2008.

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