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Aickman’s Heirs

Aickman's HeirsAickman’s Heirs by Simon Strantzas
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Robert Aickman’s stories were all about the irrational and the unknowable. The authors in this homage anthology put those same qualities to good use in fifteen intriguing tales of the unknowable’s intrusion upon seemingly normal lives.

The writing is uniformly beautiful, although this reader will admit to finding a few of the stories frustratingly oblique. Regardless, there were many standouts for me, including Brian Evenson’s “Seaside Town,” which makes great use of the dream or nighttime logic that Aickmann reveled in; Michael Cisco’s “Infestations,” a surreal meditation on identity, voyeurism, loss, and insanity; John Langan’s “Underground Economy,” which mixes exotic dancers and insect mating rituals; Malcolm Devlin’s “Two Brothers,” which I found to be one of the more straightforward horror tales in the anthology, and as a result one of the most effective; Nina Allan’s remarkable novelette “A Change of Scene,” which does a great job of keeping the reader off-balance; and my favorite of all of them, Nadia Bulkin’s “Seven Minutes in Heaven,” in which our narrator discovers she’s part of a terrible secret reflected in a children’s game she used to play.

Bulkin’s story is outstanding and well worthy of the Shirley Jackson Award nomination it received. As is AICKMAN’S HEIRS, which won the Shirley Jackson Award in the anthology category. Editor Simon Strantzas has created something special with this anthology, a rich compendium of extraordinary and strange tales that I hope will find the many readers it deserves.

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