Julie Ann Dawson, editor,
Legendary Horrors: A Collection of Modern & Classic Horror
(Bards & Sages, 2008)

In the words of Editor Julie Ann Dawson: "Each year, Bards & Sages sponsors a writing contest to benefit charity. Each year has a theme and the theme of the 2007 contest was Legendary Horrors. The goal of the 2007 contest was to inspire writers to reflect on the classical motifs of horror and give them a modern edge." She explains that this collection combines the winners of the contest with some of the classic masters of the genre.

The collection includes eight stories. If you are a true horror fan, you will immediately recognize "The Vampyre" by John William Polidori, "The Mummy's Foot" by Theophile Gautier and "The Wolf" by Guy De Maupassant. The fourth, "The Black Reaper" by Bernard Capes, is not quite as well known as the other three. If you are not familiar with these stories, you are missing out on real treats. As classics, they have withstood the test of time and critique and are proven to be among the best in the genre.

The new stories are brilliant. David Hart's "Mud Hollow Bridge" is the age-old tale of revenge for a wrong. When a young troll is killed, the trolls curse the humans to lose one child every 25 years. The father of the latest missing child tries to convince the locals that trolls took her, but who believes in trolls and curses?

"Zombie Maker" by Tim Kane shows how dishonesty never pays. When the woman he desires decides to devote her life to being a nun, Etienne hires a zombie maker to bring her under his control. He never intends to pay and believes there is nothing the poor dullard can do about it. But is it wise to cheat a zombie maker?

"The Gypsy's Gift to Lucas" by Richard Deal was my favorite of the group. It puts the modern spin on the werewolf tale in a way that allows most of us to relate to the heroine and wolfman. It has a bit more tension than the other pieces and has a much stronger character development.

A hotshot television reporter gets in over his head when he secures an interview with the Boogeyman in Brian Pettera's "Night Tales Not Told." This story keeps your curiosity up until the end, although you will likely feel that this reporter deserves whatever happens to him. Here is a character that you can love to hate, though the Boogeyman earns your sympathy. Talk about your role reversals! You must give this writer credit for creating unusual characters and putting a cool spin on the classic Boogeyman tale.

Legendary Horrors is one fine collection of horror tales. These are not the blood 'n' guts, slice 'n' dice blood fests that compete to see who can gross you out most. No. These are the stories that sneak into your mind and work to elicit that serene terror that causes you to leave all the lights on. These stories are horror in the genre's greatest form. I loved each story and honestly feel that a couple of these newcomers may well become the future masters of the classics.

book review by
Alicia Karen Elkins

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