I just finished Dark Delicacies II: Fear, the second collection of 20 horror short stories and it holds up nearly as well as the first volume. Most of the stories are fairly good, a few are standouts and, unfortunately, a few also fell flat. The variety is decent, ranging in subject matter from vampires (on the Titanic) to the undead, ghost and the more subtle horrors of the mind. Tone and mood ranged widely, from very light to grim, with most stories falling somewhere between the extremes.
- “Dog” by Joe R. Lansdale, a simple but effective chase story
- “The Accompanist” (John Harrison), a mesmerizing character study of a man consumed by his passion for music
- “Where There’s a Will…” (Robert Masello), a romp in which an underachieving son in a somewhat dysfunctional family gets success in a way he could never have imagined. This was my favorite of the collection, a real delight all the way through.
Unlike the first volume, there are a few stories here that fell flat:
- “Amusement”, a story about unlikeable characters engaging in unlikeable (and uninteresting) acts
- “Great Wall: A Story from the Zombie War” by Max Brooks which was strangely boring but mercifully short. Maybe it suffers from being out of context from World War Z.
“The Y Incision”, a goofy homage to the old Night Stalker TV series, invoked my internal editor when the protagonist, a private detective who specializes in the undead, complained about “losing two bills” on a case that goes bust when there was a very clear, obvious point where the detective could have (and really, should have) gotten the money back. There were a couple of other stories where I found myself rewriting bits in my head. I’m not sure if this is a good thing or a bad thing.
Overall, though, I’d definitely recommend Dark Delicacies II to any horror fan. It’s a solid anthology.