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Feast on horror from around the world in these latest books from the dark side

The Valancourt Book of World Horror Stories, Volume One

By James D. Jenkins and Ryan Cagle, eds.

Valancourt Books, 430 pages, $34.99

Terror is a universal human emotion but its trigger points vary greatly not only from person to person, but from culture to culture. Language, climate, local history and tradition, even food — all play a part in defining a particular culture’s palette of fears. In this new anthology, the first in a projected series, editors James D. Jenkins and Ryan Cagle have assembled a remarkable range of contemporary horror fiction from across the globe, much of it translated into English for the first time. The literary quality of the stories is high across the collection but certain stories stand out. Flavius Ardelean’s “Down, in Their World” transposes a Transylvanian folk monster into a bleakly believable modern setting, while Yvette Tan weaves a tale around traditional Filipino healing methods to creepy, moving effect in “All the Birds.” A superb collection and hopefully the first of many.


By Jess Lourey

Thomas & Mercer, 348 pages, $23.95

As the tumultuous events of the late 1960s whip America into a collective frenzy, pregnant big-city journalist Joan Harken and her fiancé Deck decide to retreat to his idyllic hometown in Minnesota. Joan is worldly enough to recognize that the town is just a little too perfect to be true, but with no family of her own to rely on, she is willing to give Deck’s overbearing family and their nosy friends the benefit of the doubt. When her part-time job on the town’s sleepy newspaper puts Joan on the trail of a long-unsolved child abduction, the town’s façade is slowly revealed as a cover for a ghoulish conspiracy dating back to the community’s founding. “Bloodline” blends page-turning storytelling with clever homages to such horror classics as “Rosemary’s Baby,” “The Stepford Wives” and “Harvest Home.”

, Daily Echoed

How’s the Pain?

By Pascal Garnier, Emily Boyce, trans.

Gallic Books, 176 pages, $23.95

No one does misanthropy like the French — maybe it’s all that dairy in the national diet, but some minor irritant seems to plague the Gallic spirit. The work of the late Pascal Garnier, one of the country’s most celebrated noir authors, embodies and even amplifies that acerbic tone. In “How’s the Pain?,” the latest of Garnier’s novels to be translated into English, a world-weary and chronically ill hit man hires a naïve villager to drive him to his last job before hanging up his assassin’s pistol. Along the way, the two men forge an affecting father-son bond while comic complications pile up as quickly as the bodies. A witty, droll shot of existential horror.



, Daily Echoed

We Hear Voices

By Evie Green

Berkley, 374 pages, $35

In an all-too-believable near future, the UK is ravaged by a pandemic that targets children. When a six-year-old boy (Billy) falls ill with the deadly flu, his mother prepares herself for the worst, only to be overwhelmed with joy when her son makes a near-miraculous full recovery. The real horror, though, is yet to come: it seems that Billy has returned from death’s door with a new friend, an invisible entity called Delfy who drives the boy to acts of extreme violence. Soon the family learns that Billy is not the only survivor hearing voices. The intriguing premise is undermined by a surfeit of naturalist dialogue and a heavy focus on social issues, neither of which blend well with the novel’s science fiction and horror elements. “We Hear Voices” still makes for a fascinating read at times, and is there anything creepier than a child’s imaginary friend?

James Grainger is the author of “Harmless”

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