By definition, splatterpunk first emerged in the mid 1980’s as a reaction to the more traditional, suggestive horror story, and was characterised by bloody, visceral, in-your-face horror depicting the true effects, physical and psychological, of extreme violence. This new anthology on Grey Matter Press aims to breathe life (or death) back into the ailing genre by lining up new up-n-comers with more established writers. Dubbed ‘a collection of personal, intelligent and subversive horror,’ Splatterlands certainly delivers. Editor Sharon Lawson explains, “In Splatterlands, we have assembled a collection of stories whose themes intend to show that horror can, indeed, be considered literature. True horror is not just about uncontrolled violence, excessive blood or sexual degradation of women, or men for that matter. And because we believe that, we’ve created Splatterlands, a collection that we call ‘Horror with a Point.’”
A growing band of horror fans believe that the purpose of this much-maligned genre is to push boundaries, if not smash them down with a sturdy axe. And this collection endeavours to do just that, exploring such controversial themes as religious fanaticism, physical and mental abuse, societal corruption and good old-fashioned serial killers, and kicking off in style with with a nasty little shocker called Heirloom, by Michael Laimo. Two of my favourites in this impressively gory set of 13 are Housesitting by Ray Garton, which warns of the danger of snooping, and Party Guests by Chad Stroup, which takes us into the mind of a very disturbed individual. The story that lives longest in the memory, however, is the Defiled by Christine Morgan, a twisted account of Viking rape and pillage that comes to a satisfyingly vengeful end. As you would expect in a collection of this size, there is a small amount of filler, ie. some stories are stronger than others. But the even the weaker stories serve a purpose here as they make the jewels in the crown shine even brighter.
Grey Matter is quickly becoming one of the leading independent publishing houses. Unlike some of their competitors, everything they do is of the highest quality. This is well worth a punt, and look out for the upcoming Dark Visions 1 and 2, which promise to be even better. Look out, fly-by-night publishing houses, there is a new kid on the block. They have your number, a sharp knife, and they are creeping up your stairs right now.
Available from: http://greymatterpress.com/books/
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