This article was originally published on Ferretbrain. I’ve backdated it to its original Ferretbrain publication date but it may have been edited and amended since its original appearance.
About a year back I found myself favourably impressed by the Read By Dawn series of horror anthologies, which focus on stories submitted by new authors who have not been published widely previously. Although I liked both of the volumes I read, I thought the second one was a great improvement over the first – Read By Dawn 1 had too many over-short mini-stories, too many stories which relied on gimmicks and cheap shots, an over-reliance on serial killers and torturers as antagonists (perhaps a result of Adele Hartley, editor of the series, also being the curator of the Dead By Dawn horror film festival, and the cinematic horror genre’s current over-reliance on Saw-style serial killers and Hostel-style torture), some toe-curlingly bad poetry, and in general not enough stories that were proud to be unabashedly rooted in horror.
All of these things were problems which, by and large, were solved in Read By Dawn 2, so I find it kind of depressing that they’ve all come back in Read By Dawn 3, the latest book in the series. In fact, let’s go through these issues one by one, because this anthology is such a comprehensive failure that I think it is worth tearing it apart sloooooowly.