Ooh, look. Another horror anthology! I apparently read quite a number of them, and yet, Nightmares: A new decade of modern horror stands out from the rest. This is partly because many of the stories wander over that line that separate entertainment-horror from needs a set of trigger warnings-horror. It's probably good to be prepared for that, because going unknowingly from a ghost story to a tale of various kinds of child abuse can be upsetting.
Good horror can be upsetting. It isn't always, or even most of the time, but it's definitely a part of the thematic landscape. I'm not normally shaken by zombies and body snatchers and whatnot - but this anthology offered not just one, but many stories still haunting me weeks after reading.
So, well. I'll mention some of my favourites - not necessarily the most shocking, just the ones I personally liked best:
"Closet dreams" by Lisa Tuttle is bleak and awful. A young girl has been kidnapped and is held captive, a very long time, in a closet. Expertly written, and definitely one of the stories I can't get out of my head.
"The Goosle" by Margo Lanagan is a dark fantasy - Hansel without Gretel, a few years after the first visit to the witch's house. Everything is really enormously grimdark, but the witch's special diet is the least of the terrible things.
"Lonegan's Luck" by Stephen Graham Jones - a clear favourite of mine! This story sits firmly in the aisle of fun-horror, introducing us to a classic snake oil-salesman in the old west, travelling from town to town. He never revisits a town he's been to, with good reason. Not that there'd be anyone left to recognise him, but still.
"The Shallows" by John Langan was a strange thing - it reminded me a little bit of Elizabeth Knox's "Wake", in that the story's present time is set after what was obviously a hideous apocalypse event - but in this story, the event must have been somewhat... Lovecraftian. It is that flavour of weird, and I liked it a lot - I would have liked to explore this world at length, like, in a novel.
"Shay Corsham Worsted" by Garth Nix - this story instantly made me add the author to my list of authors I need to read more of, which is the kind of reaction I always hope to get from a short story. An old man tries to stop a dangerous old military weapon from destroying everything, but he can't get through, the records are lost, and no one will believe him. No one will recognise this particular weapon for what it is, just by looking at it...
Yep. Great anthology. Go get it if you feel like you could go for a smorgasboard of horror authors to further fatten your to-read shelf with.