Review: Nightmare Magazine, Issue 9

Nightmare Magazine 9: June 2013Nightmare Magazine 9: June 2013 by John Joseph Adams

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

An issue of mostly Lovecraftian horror (including an essay asking what the hell that even means.)

“The House on Cobb Street” by Lynda E. Rucker scared the hell out of me; it was not a good idea to read it right before trying to fall asleep. I’m a huge fan of horror that involves houses and other spaces, especially when some of that horror is derived from inexplicable and impossible feats of dimension and volume. Rucker mixes fictional book excerpts and blog posts with scenic action to brilliant effect. I liked this story so much I decided I need to keep a list of my favorites from Nightmare Magazine.

I’m not a fan of pompous villainous narrators, and I only just learned this about myself reading “Shiva, Open Your Eyes” by Laird Barron. It’s not a bad story, and the second half was my favorite, as the scope widens and details rewrite history to offer a frightening take on evolution and religion. I’m just more likely to roll my eyes than be terrified by a monster this annoyingly verbose, observant, and arrogant.

“God of the Razor” is a short and efficient tale by Joe Lansdale that puts the protagonist in an intense situation right away and keeps ramping up the tension. Much of this tension comes from monologue, an unexpectedly effective technique here. I loved the action and how things played out before the end of the story. The God of the Razor itself is vivid, creative, and utterly terrifying. I wonder sometimes about protagonists who don’t seem to be presented with choices, who seem fated to certain outcomes, but Lansdale addresses this in an illuminating interview later in the issue.

“Fishwife” by Carrie Vaughn is fantastic. Fairy tale and Lovecraftian elements mix together in a terrific tale about poor villagers in a fishing community making a frankly easy-to-understand choice after they receive an offer from the depths of the ocean.

As always, I appreciate the art and interviews in Nightmare Magazine. I learn so much about writing every single issue. Once I catch up with all the issues, I plan to go back and start exploring more of these writers’ and artists’ work.

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