A collection of twenty-two tales of sex and horror features work by Stephen King, Ruth Rendell, Clive Barker, Stephen R. Donaldson, Patrick McGrath, Thomas M. Disch, and others.
Don't let the title scare you away, none of the stories are very explicit in either the sex or the horror area, it is more an imaginative collection geared towards the strange, and relationships, and often strange relationships, coupled with a bit of gore and sex.
Stephen King has a lovely piece in this compilation, written back in 1986 before he contracted diarrhea of the mouth and pen, called "The Revelations of Becka Paulson" about a woman who is cleaning out her husbands things, and his .22 gun goes off and shoots her in the head. She wakes up on the floor, and has no idea how she got the hole in her forehead, but strange things begin to happen when the picture of Jesus sitting atop their TV begins talking to her.
Robert Aickman, master of the ethereal glimpse through the horror mirror, has a strange tale of "boy meets girl", inside a sideshow tent in a traveling carnival. Patrick McGrath has a lovely little piece that ponders whether people who see vampires are mad.
Thomas Disch writes of a despondent girl's appointment with Death himself; Stephen Donaldson's The Conqueror Worm involves a marital spat interrupted by the odd appearance of a malevolent centipede, and Clive Barker has included a masterpiece called Jaqueline Ess: Her Will and Testament.
Other notable mentions are Carolyn Banks "Salon Satin", Angela Carter's "Master", Christopher Fowler's "The Master Builder", and May Sinclair's "The Villa Desiree".
Unlike a lot of anthologies where you need to pick through the bad stories to get to the good ones, there was only one story in this entire collection that I mildly disliked. Truly a great effort by Michele Slung in her obvious pickiness at gathering the shorts, this is an all around great book to own and pack around with you. Enjoy!
The anthology opens with Stephen King's pieces The Revelation of Becka Paulson and closes with a piece by Clive Barker. It's no coincidence that the two biggest names featured in this anthology open and closes the book. Both stories concentrate on women suffering from dementia. They are both unnerving in their own strange little ways. The two masters of horror are at their very best with these stories.
Other stories that are worthy of reading in this anthology are Patrick McGrath's Cleave The Vampire, a strange little tale of dementia, Christopher Fowler's The Master Builder, Jonathan Carroll's A Quarter Past You, Robert Hichens's How Love Came to Professor Guildea and Eric McCormack's The Festival.
Unfortunately, like all anothologies, this one has its share of stinkers, though this anthology has less than usual. Valerie Martin's Sea Lovers is a story that has no real point of view and it never really ends up anywhere. And Ruth Rendell's A Glowing Future shows promise, but it never really reaches its full potential. And you can see that ending coming from miles away! There are also a few more stories that are slightly unmemorable.
I also have to mention that Robert Aickman's story The Swords is very shocking, disturbing and a great tale of horror. They just don't right 'em like that anymore!
All in all, I Shudder At Your Touch is a good anthology that offers many stories that crosses genres and that are often very distubring and terrifying in their own little ways. This anthology made me discover many new authors that I cannot wait to read again, and I'm sure it'll do the same to you.