The New Gothic: Don’t Embrace the Darkness. Fear It. edited by Beth K. Lewis
Genere(s): Gothic, Horror
Publisher: Stone Skin Press
Description: The Gothic is the most enduring literary tradition in history, but in recent years friendly ghosts and vegetarian vampires threaten its foundations. The New Gothic is a collection of short stories which revisits the core archetypes of the Gothic—the meandering, secret-filled building; the stranger seeking answers; the black-hearted tyrant—and reminds us not to embrace but to fear the darkness. A dozen tales of terror fill this anthology, including work by Jesse Bullington, SJ Chambers, Richard Dansky, and an original, never-before-seen story from the godfather of modern horror, Ramsey Campbell, among many more.
I remember the Goths growing up; they wore all black, Morrisy shirts, dark caked-on eye makeup, and dyed their hair to match their outfits. They tended to smoke, and the males of the herd painted their fingernails to match their hair and outfits. I knew some of them, but rarely would we mingle. Their ways were mysterious to me. As I have grown up, I have realized that calling this clique Goths was appropriately inappropriate. The New Gothic collection reminds us as readers just what exactly the “Gothic style” of writing really is. It is dark and brooding, filled with overt and covert horror and always has a hint of mystery — sort of like those Goth kids I saw growing up….
Part of the title of this book is, like those kids, appropriately inappropriate. These stories are new, but the editor and authors did an amazing job of sticking to the Gothic fundamentals. This collection keeps it real. The New Gothic continues the traditions of the great Gothic writers and integrates their modern writing sensibilities (not styles) into a collection of stories that will elicit all sorts of mixed emotions in readers. There were times when I thought, “There is no way that seems right, how do they not see that?” There was one story that brought back some memories best left forgotten, apparently some things taste the way they smell when burning…. Within this mix I could see that this collection was Gothic done right.
I have read plenty of books like this that purport themselves be authentic examples of this genre or that, but few of them stay as true to that supposition as The New Gothic: Don’t Embrace the Darkness. Fear It. does. I was not surprised by the quality of the stories; what really surprised me was how well they were placed and presented. The color scheme of the cover of this book, done by Jason Morningstar, really screamed new Gothi;, the black white and a hint of red color scheme were dripping with the theme. To follow up on this well executed cover the quality of the paper, print and formatting made this book seem bigger than it actually is. In a day and age where ebooks are prevalent, many publishers tend to overlook the importance of high quality paper. As corny as it may sound, the paper choice for this book actually had an old school, almost “Gothic” feel.
There were a few Lovecraftian type stories in this book, but they always maintained their Gothic feel. In many of Lovecraft’s stories things are hinted at and eluded to, and sometime the big reval, isn’t that revealing. Some of the endings of the stories in this collection are subtle, but there was never a doubt that something horrible and macabre was going on. There were several stories where you as a reader knew exactly what was going to happen, but watching the characters experience these horrible things was the sweetest kind of literary torture. If you want to enjoy a rickety roller coaster of Gothic goodness, this book is worth standing in line for. This is the way Goth should be done, by people who know how to do it. Excuse me while I get myself some pulled pork…