Subterranean: Tales of Dark Fantasy 2
Edited by William K. Schafer
Cover Artist: David McKean
Review by Mario Guslandi
Subterranean Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9781596063686
Date: 30 April 2011 List Price $40.00 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
Dark fiction anthologies constitute a genre of books still fairly popular for short story lovers who like to sample different tastes, discover new authors, and enjoy different writing styles. Regardless of the editor's ability in selecting good material, the fate of almost any anthology is to offer to the readers some stories of their liking and other pieces bound to leave them either unimpressed or positively dissatisfied. The present, new anthology from Subterranean Press, assembling eleven original tales, is no exception.
As a reader and a reviewer I find the volume a mix of enticing tales and of unremarkable, quite forgettable stories. The former, in my opinion, only slightly outnumber the latter.
"Wolverton Station" by Joe Hill is a great, very horrific story where an American businessman travelling on a British train gets caught in a terrible, unexpected situation.
Joel Lane and Shannon Page provide "The Passion of Mother Vajpai", a gorgeous fantasy tale featuring a girl who, in order to become a Lily of Death (a sort of murderous avenger) must pass a final, challenging test but is troubled by a lesbian passion.
"Not Last Night but the Night Before" by Steven T. Boyett portrays a man who starts to see his and other people’s death as a person silently following them around. This discovery affects his life and his job until he meets a soul mate sharing his unusual ability. An excellent story told in a fascinating narrative style.
Norman Partridge contributes the excellent "Vampire Lake", a very effective cross between a western story and a vampire tale, while David Prill ("A Pulp Called Joe") creates an accomplished, sad love story set in a world where people are partly made of paper.
"The Dappled Thing" by William Browning Spencer is an entertaining action story taking place at the time of dirigibles, with a touch of Jules Verne’s penchant for weird machines.
These are my own picks, but obviously everyone is entitled to their own opinion on which stories are best in this volume.