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BR-R-R-! : Ten Tales to Chill You to the Bone (1959)

de Groff Conklin (Editor)

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Conklin had pretty good taste and this anthology reflects that. Theodore Sturgeon's classic "It" needs no introduction, of course, but BR-R-R! also contains "The Worm" by David H. Keller: a story at least the equal of "It" in terms of teeth-gnashing horror, and which arguably surpasses it. Pulpy and loaded with fast action, "The Worm" also achieves a mood of terror and doom that is nearly cinematic in effect (meaning that the story, when it's finished, will stick with you as only the greatest horror films do). I can't recommend it highly enough. On the lighter side of the spectrum there's Roald Dahl's "The Sound Machine," which certainly qualifies as an intriguing tale of the fantastic if not an actual horror story (there probably weren't many hardcore horror fans among Dahl's readership, but I've always thought highly of his work), and Algernon Blackwood's neat little ethical fable "An Egyptian Hornet."

Three and a half stars. ( )
  Jonathan_M | Nov 26, 2019 |
Eight of the ten stories su-diddly-uck. ( )
  drbubbles | Oct 24, 2012 |
Probably the most interesting title of any book in my collection. The spine, by the way, has it as BRRRR, i.e., 4 Rs and no hyphens.

Editor Conklin did a great job of selecting this diverse set of stories, but he would have done better to have stopped there. His inane and condescending introduction and short remarks at the beginning of each story give away plot points better discovered during reading. Given his attitude toward horror stories, it's surprising he selected such good ones.

"It" is the classic Theodore Sturgeon tale about a very unhuman entity that wreaks havoc on a farmer and his family. "The Worm" by David H. Keller, M.D. presents another elemental creature at an old mill that you will remember for a long time.

"Nursery Rhyme" by Charles Beaumont, like all his tales I have read, is well-written and, in this case, exceedingly sad in its story of a mother unwilling to let go of her child. On the other hand, Isaac Asimov and Frederik Pohl's "Legal Rites", about a ghost going to court to avoid eviction, injects some humor, but lacks any real sense of horror, though some may consider it clever.

"Doomsday Deferred" by Will Jenkins unfolds with predictability, but is very well told and belongs to that honorable sub-genre of horror stories that pit man against the lesser beasts.

"Warm, Dark Places" by Horace Gold chronicles the downfall of a most unlucky drycleaner. Not sure how many stories of drycleaners there are out there, so this is one to savor!

Algernon Blackwood's "An Egyptian Hornet" shows a great understanding of human nature as a Reverend has to deal with the deadly title creature.

"The White Goddess" by Idris Seabright also fits into another time-honored type of horror tale also represented by Lord Dunsany and John Collier, and I won't give it away.

Roald Dahl's "The Sound Machine" is an oft-anthologized classic about a scientist whose researches into sounds beyond human hearing produce some troubling results.

Lastly, "The Handler" is probably the nastiest thing I have ever read by Ray Bradbury, and all the better for it. In it, an undertaker takes out his revenge against his living antagonists on their bodies after they are dead--and in some ways that I really don't want to think about....

So, if you stumble across this in some used book store or flea market, grab it. There are some treasures here. ( )
  datrappert | Jan 29, 2012 |
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