Exotic Gothic 4, edited by Danel Olson – review by Mario Guslandi

Exotic Gothic 4 edited by Danel Olson

Publisher: PS Publishing 2012 (Postscript No 28/29)

ISBN 978-1-848633-33-9 (Hardcover)

After three volumes published by the Canadian imprint Ash-Tree Press, the successful series Exotic Gothic has now been handed down into the capable hands of the British PS Publishing.

Editor Danel Olson has assembled twenty-five stories by a distinguished group of genre experts, set in different locations, addressing a diversity of themes but sharing the character of modern gothic fiction.

For some reason (mere coincidence?) the best stories are those with a distinctive exotic flavor, while the weaker tales , in my opinion, are those located in Europe and North America.

As in any anthology, not everything will please everybody, let alone the present reviewer. Thus, I’ll take the liberty to mention only the stories which seem to me the most accomplished of the lot.

“Pig Thing” by Adam LG Nevill is a sinister, excellent tale set in the New Zealand “bush”, where a lethal creature is on the loose, while “The Lighthouse Keepers’ Club” by Kaaron Warren is the gloomy report of a young man’s challenging experience as the temporary warden of a lighthouse used as a prison for long-term inmates.

Lucy Taylor contributes “Nikishi” a vivid, splendid piece taking place in Namibia, describing how a man gets tragically acquainted with the existence of the mythical were-hyenas. Another excellent tale set in Africa is “The Fourth Horse” by Simon Kurt Unsworth, magnificently blending supernatural horror and politics, with a generous touch of eroticism to make the dish even more spicy.

Latin America provides the right environment for a couple of great stories. In Robert Hood’s beautifully crafted “Escena de un Asesinato” a Zapatist ghost takes revenge by means of a picture taken by a professional photographer and David Wellington’s “Atacama” is a fascinating tale of horror, greed and vengeance occurring among the disquieting mummies of the Atacama desert.

“Oschaert” is yet another of Paul Finch’s strong and colourful stories, where a WW1 British soldier has to endure a horror more frightening than war itself while the complex “Such A Man I Would Have Become” by E Michael Lewis is a truly gothic tale revolving around the terror brought about by an evil twin.

Fans of the new gothic who have enjoyed the first three volumes won’t be disappointed with this fourth installment, which confirms once again that horrific and weird atmospheres are not confined within the walls of Scottish castles or haunted Victorian houses but can be found anywhere in the world.

- review by Mario Guslandi