You know an anthology is going to be special when 1) the stories are all new and written for said anthology; 2) the editor has stated his intention to ensure that all the tales will feature vampires that are evil, nasty, ravenous and do not sparkle (I may have added that last bit), and 3) that editor is excellent-writer-in-his-own-right, Christoper Golden.
With those lofty expectations in mind, I'm relieved to report Seize The Night most definitely does not disappoint.
With 20 tales comprising its mammoth 544 page length, a review of each of them would result in a write-up almost as long as one of the stories included within these pages. So I'm just going to single out a few and summarise the rest with my overall reactions.
After opening with the longest and one of the more languid tales of the collection, UP IN OLD VERMONT by Scott Smith, Seanan McGuire (who also doubles as Mira Grant) blew me away with her beautifully written and exceptionally sad SOMETHING LOST, SOMETHING GAINED. Imagine my delight then, when Michael Kortya upped the ante ever so slightly with his contribution, ON THE DARK SIDE OF SUNLIGHT BASIN, combining Native American folklore with vampirric legend to captivating effect.
Thematically, viruses that turn the infected into vampires resulting in the end of the world as we know it linked two of my favourite stories within this anthology. WE ARE ALL MONSTERS HERE by Kelley Armstrong and THE YELLOW DEATH by Lucy A. Snyder both feature strong female protagonists trying to survive in post-apocalyptic landscapes that are both similar and very different. Both of these shorts deserve full length novels of their own, such is the richness of the worlds outlined within.
SHADOW AND THIRST by John Langan combines elements of cosmic horror with his take on vampires and is one of the more imaginative tales within Seize The Night; while Leigh Perry's DIRECT REPORT is ingenious in set up, builds steadily, and features one of the more satisfying endings to be found here. PAPER CUTS by Gary A. Braunbeck wins the award for the most creative version of a vampire conceived for this collection, and BLOOD by Robert Shearman is the most disturbing of the tales for reasons not related to its take on vampires.
The collection also ends well with stories by Rio Youers, John Ajvide Lindquvist and David Wellington all delivering the goods in very different ways.
Though there were a few other tales that did not quite resonate with me, I would suspect they will for others. Even MRS. POPKIN by Dan Chaon and Lynda Barry had its moments, though I remain mystified by some of what was implied within this subtext heavy outing.
Overall, Christoper Golden is to be commended on wrangling such a diverse and high quality collection of new stories from some great names within the horror and paranormal sub-genres - including, in addition to those noted above, Charlaine Harris, Laird Barron, Tim Lebbon and Brian Keene.
Quite simply, if you are a fan of vampires, do not miss this one.
4 Throbbing Carotid Arteries for Seize The Night.
The preceding review was based on an advanced review copy obtained via Netgalley from Simon & Schuster.