Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Book Review: Tainted - Tales of Terror and the Supernatural edited by Aaron Polson

In Tainted: Tales of Terror and the Supernatural, editor Aaron Polson presents a macabre tableau of bone-chilling tales from masters of horror Edgar Allan Poe, E.F. Benson, Ambrose Bierce, Algernon Blackwood and H.G. Wells as well as tales from more modern authors who surprisingly hold their own against such literary heavyweights.

In fact, Polson wanted these modern authors to base their spook stories on five classic tales from the authors listed above. Contributors were asked to write a tale inspired by the masters’ classic tales. The only caveat being was that their new stories were to be set in modern times. The result is a timeless tome that is tainted with immense talent.

Instead of just basing their stories on the five classics contained in the anthology, the authors went above and beyond in creating original, unique and spine-tingling tales that stand well on their own. The inspiration is no doubt there, but the originality and deftness of each author’s story is jaw-dropping.

While all of the stories were excellent, I do have a few personal favorites (excluding the five classics in the anthology, of course). My number one favorite would have to be Natalie L. Sin’s “Fish Balls and Mushrooms.” Set in Hong Kong, it tells the tale of two friends who are roommates. One becomes successful and owns several fish ball food carts, while the other one is wallowing in unemployment. The unemployed friend becomes horribly messy, leaving dishes, food, etc. all over his room. One day, the other friend notices some mushrooms growing in the friend’s room…and they soon spread from room to body. This was an exciting read that packed a lot of description and character development into 13 short pages.

Other favorites included “Station 13,” by Camille Alexa, which put a decidedly sci-fi twist on a haunted house-type story, “The Lion Roared,” by Jodi Lee, a creepy, unnerving story about child ghosts and “The Tethering,” by W.D. Prescott, about the search for life-eternal from the pendant of an occultist.

The only tale that I didn’t care too much for was R.S. Pyne’s “Carmine Skeptic,” which I felt didn’t differ enough from its inspiration, H.G. Wells’ “The Red Room.” Other than that, all of the tales contained in this anthology were excellent!

I dare you to read the Tainted alone on a dark night and not get scared out of your wits!

Available from Amazon!

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