Chiral Mad 3
Edited by Michael Bailey
Cover Artist: Glenn Chadbourne
Review by Mario Guslandi
Written Backwards Trade Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9780996149327
Date: 29 March 2016
The third volume of the successful, multi-award winning series of psychological horror, Chiral Mad, assembles twenty-one stories and twenty poems. Being totally unqualified to judge poetry, I will only focus on the fiction section.
In addition to an oldie by Stephen King from the cult collection Night Shift ("The Last Rung of the Ladder") the volume offers a bunch of brand new, previously unpublished tales penned by both well known and not quite famous writers exploring the dark side of the human soul.
Among such a huge medley of styles, themes, and atmospheres, I will mention the stories that really stand out as accomplished examples of modern psychological horror.
First of all, I want to pinpoint Richard Chizmar's "The Poetry of Life", a short, but deeply unsettling piece about life and loneliness and the true horror of it.
Another winner is "Prayer" by Mort Castle, an offbeat tale depicting the reasons for a chain of unexpected, sudden deaths that occurred in the '80s.
Paul Michael Anderson contributes "The Agonizing Guilt of Relief (Last Day of a Ready-Made Victim)", a tragic story about family violence and brotherly love.
Scott Edelman's "That Perilous Stuff" is an effective cautionary tale about the obscure power of those objects piling up, year after year, in our houses.
Ramsey Campbell provides "Know Your Code", a quite enjoyable piece of urban horror featuring an elderly couple struggling to remember passwords and codes to go on with their daily life.
Jack Ketchum offers "Seconds", a moving paranormal story addressing, portraying a woman unable to get old where the issue is of the power of love fighting with life's shortness.
Although not everything is top notch, this new anthology confirms the ability of the series to provide entertaining and interesting material to horror lovers.