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Chthonic: Weird Tales of Inner Earth Paperback – February 23, 2018
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Within the pages of this anthology of weird fiction, you'll find seventeen stories from a diverse group of international authors. Stories that plumb the depths of earth at least as deeply as they explore the human capacity for suffering and enlightenment. The cavern mouth awaits, as does the cistern with hidden depths, the tunnel that twists and writhes, the abyssal space that hums with unknown activity. Note the faint glow to the walls as you descend: mere phosphorescent fungi... or something more peculiar? There is a sound of rushing water that you can't place, and the suggestion of drums and strange flutes in the deep. The rock vibrates beneath the soles of your feet, and your headlamp flickers, fails. But then, you knew it would, eventually. This place is not for you, but here you are. Welcome to CHTHONIC: Weird Tales of Inner Earth.
Featuring stories by Ramsey Campbell, Gemma Files, Orrin Grey, H. P. Lovecraft, Christopher Slatsky, Sarah Peploe, David Stevens, and more. With stunning black and white interior illustrations by aclaimed weird artist Fufu Fruenwahl. Edited by Scott R Jones.
- Publisher : Martian Migraine Press (February 23, 2018)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 288 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1927673259
- ISBN-13 : 978-1927673256
- Item Weight : 8.8 ounces
- Dimensions : 5 x 0.6 x 7 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #1,893,776 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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Top reviews from the United States
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This anthology perfectly captures the darkness, dread and irresistible allure of what lies in the earth beneath us. I could name my personal favorites, but the truth is they're too numerous. Only one story fell flat for me which isn't bad for a collection of so many authors.
There's also some great interior art which always scores points with me.
Overall, a great read with stuff right out of your most claustrophobic nightmares.
The expected Lovecraft inclusion is 'The Rats in the Walls', for the uninitiated that's the one with the famously badly named cat. Though on this upteenth reading it strikes me that the cat is treated a bit as a protagonist/hero, alerting the humans to danger, accompanying them in trying to investigate and stop it. Which made me reflect on it a bit differently.
I particularly loved John Linwood Grant's WWI period piece, Orrin Grey's 'Hollow Earths', and the deeply weird and nonlinear 'Some Corner of a Dorset Field that is Forever Arabia' by David Stevens, but as I said, there is not a weak entry in here.
Top reviews from other countries
The creepiest of the bunch is "The End of a Summer’s Day" by Ramsay Campbell. What happens goes completely unexplained and is unsettling on an existential level.
Stories compiled in this volume are ostensibly weird tales of inner earth. Since the definition of ‘weird’ as well as ‘earth’ seemingly varied from author to author, I had a fascinating experience reading these stories. Many of them were indeed weird. Several depicted, or were associated with events happening at subterranean levels. But…
First there is the introductory piece from the editor Scott R Jones, titled “The Cave You Fear To Enter…”, putting the stories in perspective. Then we have the stories.
1. “Where All is Night, and Starless” by John Linwood Grant: One of the best stories in this collection, this was a Mythos Tale told in a compact and fast manner. Auspicious beginning.
2. “A Song for Granite Khronos” by Aaron Besson: This was a dark jewel. The way the tale imbued itself with a different tone with passage of pages was a revelation.
3. “UNDR” by Sarah Peplow: Began interestingly, but lost itself at the end.
4. “Tellurian Façade” by Christopher Slatsky: A truly oppressive and horrific tale dealing with what lies beneath, physically, emotionally, metaphorically.
5. “The End of a Summer’s Day” by Ramsey Campbell: More claustrophobic than the others combined, this story proved afresh what a master Campbell was.
6. “The Harrow” by Gemma Files: Great read. Not too surprising, but very well written.
7. “Nivel Del Mar” by Scott Shank: A refreshing story of quest for oneself, this one was enjoyable.
8. “The Rats in the Walls” by H.P. Lovecraft: A classic. Reading afresh reminded me what a great sequel to this one had been written by King in his ‘Jerusalem’s Lot’!
9. “Tending the Core” by Adam Millard: Not exactly a subterranean story in geological sense, but this one did have something profound at its core.
10. “The Dragons Beneath” by Belinda Lewis: Fantasy gone wrong while trying too hard to be subtle, that’s how I would describe this story.
11. “The Re’em” by Adam McOmber: Brilliant! Wish there were more stories like this one in the collection.
12. “Pugelbone” by Nadia Bulkin: A nasty and suitably dystopian tale.
13. “Hollow Earths” by Orrin Grey: Lovely story! This hauntingly beautiful tale truly captured a lot of magic and imagination despite being written in the shape of a prosaic dialogue/monologue.
14. “The Writhe” by Tom Lynch: Too predictable, too influenced by all those 70-s Pan paperbacks. That in itself isn’t too bad, but the story was rather pointless.
15. “Volver Al Monte” by S.L. Edwards: Outstanding. That’s all I can say about this one.
16. “Some Corner of a Dorset Field That is Forever Arabia” by David Stevens: Rubbish. We get to reader more lucidly hallucinatory tales in the daily newspapers.
17. “Vault” by Antony Mann: A darkly farcical tale that enlivens the proceedings again.
Overall, I found this to be a solid anthology. You may enjoy it as well, irrespective of whether you are bathophobic or if spelunking is your hobby.