The Wide Carnivorous Sky (subtitle and Other Monstrous Geographies) is a collection of nine modern horror stories.
Why did I want to read it?
I came across the work of John Langan through the annual best of horror anthologies edited by Ellen Datlow where his stories stuck out as something exceptional. I wanted to read more and got a hold of this collection as a good starting point. He is clearly highly regarded by his peers.
What did I think about it?
I really enjoyed this collection which nicely covers the full range of horror themes. Cannibalistic children? Check. Zombie apocalypse in the style of Thornton Wilder’s Our Town? Check. Werewolf-type things? Check. Unspeakable Lovecraftian entities breaking into our world and creating havoc? Why yes. Reasons why you shouldn’t hitch-hike? Indeed.
Particular favourites were
- Technicolor – what was Poe up to in his lost week, what’s the Masque of the Red Death about, why you should really pay attention in your English Lit class
- The Wide Carnivorous Sky – space vampires meet USA’s finest but not in a good way; assuming there is in fact a good way….
and my absolute favourite in the collection
- Mother of Stone – the story of an academic investigating what appears to be an urban legend of about the events that follow the digging up and installation in a local hotel of a statue of headless pregnant woman, taking in myths, ancient religions, all manner of Fortean stuff and turning it into a disturbing tale of what happens when you don’t leave something well enough alone.
The collection also includes an introduction by Jeffery Ford and an afterword by Laird Barron, as well as notes on the stories by the author himself (I love author’s notes and aways read them where they are included) which give some insight into the genesis of the stories and what he was trying to achieve.
I’m pleased that my initial feelings about Langan’s work have been reinforced by the stories in this book, and I’ll definitely be looking out for more.
I read this as part of the 2015 Horror Reading Challenge. I also learned that I have real problems typing the word “carnivorous”.