Classic Monsters Unleashed
When it comes to classic literature, the world of horror is especially rich. There’s something about the darkness of the unknown, the terror of being alone in a world that’s not our own, and the macabre undertones of a world discovering the true terror of science and nature. From the Gothic novels of the 19th century, the chilling stories of the early 20th century, and even the modern interpretations of the genre in the 21st century, horror tales continue to inspire and intrigue their audiences’ centuries after they have been written, but more importantly they continue to haunt our dreams. A great illustration of this is the upcoming release of Classic Monsters Unleashed, a terrifying tomb of twenty-nine new, reimagined monster tales that pay homage to classic creatures, novels and films.
The book is published by Black Spot Books in print (paperback and hardcover), by Crystal Lake Publishing (ebook), and will soon be available in Audio from Blackstone. It is edited by James Aquilone, the author of the popular Dead Jack series, Unleashed is a carefully crafted anthology that features some pretty big names in modern horror. These include Bubba Ho-Tep author Joe R. Lansdale, Pine Deep Trilogy author Jonathan Maberry and award winning Every Heart a Doorway author Seanan McGuire, amongst many others. Add a pinch of Kim Newman, in the form of the books forward, and you find yourself with a powerful fusion of classic and modern horror which blends together into a sensational volume of terror.
(Spoilers ahead dear readers…you have been warned!)
Whilst modern horror fans might associate the genre with movies, the history of horror dates back much further into the past and unto the pages of paper. Classic horror novels such as Dracula (1897), Frankenstein (1818) and The Phantom of the Opera (1909) haver all found themselves delivered to us over and over again in the form of films, TV shows, theatre productions, comics and even video games. So, whilst the original stories may have gone unread by everyday modern Joe, the stories have passed through into modern media in one form or the other.
This is extremely advantageous for anyone who picks up a copy of Classic Monsters Unleashed, because many of these tales have been woven from the very fabric of the original novels. The surprising charm of the book is in the unravelling of each short tale, finding yourself suddenly faced with an old foe you long vanquished, or finding familiar names appearing on its pages. The biggest thrill is in realising what it is your reading. Your first big example of this is with Maberry’s tale Höllenlegion, which slowly reveals itself to be a sequel to H. G. Wells’ The Island of Dr. Moreau. It seems, Wells’ novel did not end quite like you thought. It’s this kind of creative extension in which Unleashed is founded on, with tales based after, before or even parallel (in a different dimension perhaps) to the original stories.
It’s these kind of questions that just make my heart sing, what if Mina’s curse was never broken in Dracula? What if Frankenstein was on Tinder? What if the Wolfman went vegan (kinda)? Unleashed relishes in this creative exploration, often taking you places you never expected to be. However, there is much more than just your usual suspects. Yes, you’ll see Dracula and Frankenstein pop up on more than a couple occasions, but there’s also a depth of horror that you might be surprised by.
More Than Meets the Eyes (and Tendrils)
A large part of what makes Classic Monsters Unleashed work so well, is in its carful curation. Aquilone has done more than just thrown a load of stories together, he’s created an anthology of unparalleled richness, with the stories being paced just perfectly throughout the book. You may be reading about the Headless horseman one minute and The Invisible man the next. It’s this broad and eclectic mix that really keeps you peeled to those pages.
And yes.. there’s Sci-fi here too. After all, isn’t science just as terrifying as a mummy or werewolf? I found Linda D. Addison’s alternative perspective of The Blob in Da Noise, Da Funk, Da Blob to be highly intriguing. Also, a massive thrill was revisiting The Fly in Monique Snyman’s Modern Monsters, a twisted tale that’s as grotesque as it is chilling. There’s even a little room for some classic fantasy, as we explore the origins of one L. Frank Baum’s most deplorable characters, in A Tale of Wickedness by Kelsea Yu. I could go on, but I honestly want you to explore this and enjoy in the manner I did, exploring each page with the terror of the unknown.
Classic Monsters Unleashed has certainly be massive highlight of the year so far. And with a release date set for this July, I can highly recommend picking up a copy on release. It’s filled with stories of demons, monsters, vampires. mummies and werewolves, everything a horror fan thrives on. It also has several great illustrations to stir the imagination (and to keep you up at nights!)
I can easily see Unleashed growing into something much bigger than just a book; if this doesn’t have an anthology TV series within the next five years, then I’ll be dammed upset. It does seem, however, that there are plans for a trilogy of books, with the next Unleashed looking at the works of William Shakespeare, which is real shame, as I could have really got behind a horror follow up. So, unless Mr Shakespeare is turned into a blood thirsty zombie in one of the stories, I may be giving the bard the bird. But hey… that might just be your type of thing.
Classic Monsters Unleashed launches on July 17th 2022. You can reserve a copy over at Ipgbooks and pick up a copy at any good book store, (Amazon, B&N, WHSmith etc.)
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“Hello Horror Fans – This book has more monsters than my basement. It’s certainly one you can PICK up and BLEED. If you love vampires, werewolves, creatures from the depths and ghost n ghouls, then this could just BITE your interests. Give us your HEART and SOULS in the comments below! Until next time…