I was lucky enough to get a copy of this e-book from the editor, the lovely Mr Barnes.
This is the second City of Hell Chronicles collection from Anachron Press. Mr Barnes seems to have an endless supply of new talented horror writers at his disposal and unusually there is always good representation for the ladies (unusual in opportunity not talent). If you haven’t read any of the previous CoH:Chronicles books it does not matter overly as all the stories are self-contained. All you really need to know is that it is a post-apocalyptic environment where the big nasty was caused by an insect God called The Great Maurr.
As the title implies there are three stories and they are winners. The first two remind me of old horror films that I used to spend most of my time shouting at the screen “Don’t open that door” or “Don’t touch that”. You know the kind of film I mean. In the first story about there being no insects at see I just wanted to pull the character back and head off to a nice sunny island. In the second story I was mentally urging the female character to grab a bat and use it early on in the story. There is something about this kind of story that takes me back to the stories my dad used to scare me with as a child. Classic tension building towards a fairly predictable end that finds a way to still be enjoyable if not really surprising. Although the end of the second story does have a slight variation on the twist I was imagining.
The third story is different in many ways. Not least because it is from the point of view of a worker ant (of the giant man-crushing variety). It was easily my favourite of the three and without giving too much away it considers what exposure to humans could have on a self-aware ant colony. This chilling story reaches an inevitable climax that I only realised was inevitable after I’d finished reading it. The one thing that I couldn’t get my head round was that I always think of insects as being matriarchal but this story refers to The Great Maurr as a He. Not a game-breaker, but it did keep buzzing around my head (insect joke for you).
This is a short collection, but it is enjoyable and easy to read. I don’t think it is the strongest of the COH collections, but it is still worth a read.