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Baker's Dozen

Some Will Not Sleep: Adam Nevill's Favourite Horror Short Stories
Sean Kitching , October 30th, 2016 07:40

To mark the Halloween release of his own first collection of short stories, Some Will Not Sleep: Selected Horrors, horror novelist and genre aficionado, Adam Nevill, selects a Baker’s Dozen of his favourite short stories from contemporary writers in the field of modern horror. As with Nevill’s 2015 filmic Baker’s Dozen, fans of the genre are going to find an abundance of suggestions to work through on this list. (Written by Adam Nevill, as relayed to Sean Kitching)


John Langan — ‘Mother of Stone’
A story told in the second person, so "you" are an academic and authority on "electronic folklore" and investigating the mysterious death by decapitation of a woman, who was nine months pregnant, at the unexceptional Wynkoop Inn, USA. A place where, uncannily, there was also a discovery and excavation of a curious stone statue. The sculpture's strangeness is generated by the fact that it appears to suggest the style of either the ancient Greeks or the Renaissance, and is made from rare Parian marble. It's also an effigy that was made deliberately headless.

The unearthing of the statue by a handy man led to all kinds of "weird" things happening at the Inn too - "there are times when coincidence feels like something else, you know? As if you are seeing into the way the world really works, underneath all the science and logic and shit." The way in which the inert presence of the statue, or even its absence from where it has been removed, affects perception, the light, atmosphere, and the human imagination is rendered by Langan in a way that demonstrates how crucial the technique of foreboding is to the horror tale, and how it can be crafted. The scholar's investigation takes in interviews with staff members of the Inn who have observed statue-related phenomenon ( and who report on the testimony of guests). We also get the testimony of an academic, a local librarian, a historian, a priest and the enigma of "the Bloody Mother" lore grows. As do revelations of ancient myths, rituals, rites, strange energies and exorcism.

It's a disturbing and compelling tale from a writer who specializes in new approaches to horror, and who renders the effects of horror freshly.

Recommendation: The Wide Carnivorous Sky and Other Monstrous Geographies (Hippocampus Press)