Review (part 1) – Dead Letters: An Anthology edited by Conrad Williams

Posted: May 25, 2016 in Fantasy, Horror, Sci-Fi
Tags: , , ,

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The Dead Letters Office: the final repository of the undelivered. Love missives unread, gifts unreceived, lost in postal limbo.

The premise for this anthology is that each author was sent an anonymous letter, all containing an artefact which functioned as the prompt for their story. It’s a fantastic concept with a number of authors I’ve been looking to read (especially as I’ve been seeking out new horror novels of late) such as Joanne Harris, China Miéville, Michael Marshall Smith and Ramsey Campbell.

The opening story by Steven Hall does not disappoint when it comes to capturing the notion and atmosphere of dead and lost letters, finally finding a reader. The Green Letter is a sparse yet riveting account of a letter that has bizarre, and mainly dire consequences for the recipient. Written up as a report of some sort, detailing the letter (or letters, as it has occurred hundreds of times) as well as an experiment gone wrong, this is a wonderfully creepy and brilliantly crafted tale that expresses the dread of the ‘dead letter’.

Michael Marshall Smith’s Over To You continues that sense of dread but lets it meander into a suburban setting. An odd package in the wrong mail box; a weird note and a chess piece contained within. It equates to a small yet uninteresting mystery for the protagonist until his mother calls to let him know his deceased father’s chess set is missing a piece – the exact piece he has found. The jarring occurrences add up and the conclusion to the tale is clever and harsh all at once, making for an enjoyably dark read.

After reading Nod by Adrian Barnes, I’m definitely looking forward to reading more quality horror, and Dead Letters already seems like it’s going to be a great collection of suitably chilling stories.

Review copy
Published by Titan Books

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