From Publishers Weekly
This collection of witch stories runs the gamut form tedious to thought-provoking to haunting. The best stories deal with contemporary witchcraft and mystical experiences. In an amusing account of mischievous modern witches, Kathryn Ptacek presents two sisters-in-law who discover a common interest in spells as they conspire to silence an annoying relative. When Nancy Holder's protagonist initiates contact with a representative of the Church of Satan, and then two friends die in a horrific car crash minutes later, Holder calls into serious question the idea of innocent coincidence. S. P. Somtow merges the old with the new by setting the traditional tale of Hansel and Gretel in Hollywood. Deserted by their parents, the two children are taken in by a psychic reader. Overwhelmed in a new world of drugs and prostitution, they finally escape and leave the suspected witch to burn in a bake-shop oven. From bedtime fairy tales (with witches living on the moon) to complex adult themes (a transvestite prostitute sodomized by a horned man), Preiss ( Where's Lulu ) and Betancourt ( Rememory ) have gathered an odd but often entertaining range of storylines.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Kirkus Reviews
Generous collections of horror stories, nearly all original, that comprise the fourth and fifth volumes of the publisher's Ultimate series (previous volumes, not reviewed, covered Dracula, Frankenstein, and werewolves). What makes these two ``ultimate'' is unclear--certainly not Philip Jos Farmer's querulous introduction to The Ultimate Witch, in which he decries the ``moronicity of anti-Satanists'' (Dennis Etchison does a far more sensible job of introducing the companion volume, displaying a tight grasp on zombie literature and films). It's not quite the authors either, although they're an impressive lot, emphasizing youthful talent: new stories from Kathryn Ptacek, Lois Tilton, Jonathan Bond, Nancy Holder, Tanith Lee, and others on witches, and from Rick Hautala, Geoffrey A. Landis, Brian Hodge, Alan Rodgers, and others on zombies. There are new stories by some bigger, older names, too (S.P. Somtow, Stuart M. Kaminsky, Karl Edward Wagner on witches; Robert Silverberg, John Brunner on zombies), but, not surprisingly, the biggest draws--Dean Koontz, Anne Rice, Ray Bradbury--are represented by old stories (with the Rice zombie-piece being, ironically, a reprint from The Witching Hour) (It's also interesting to note that stories by women--a fast-growing minority in the horror field--make up only five of the 23 zombie tales, but ten of the 25 witch tales.) Perhaps not the ultimate, then (The Book of the Dead, ed. by John Skipp and Craig Spector, 1989, outclasses this zombie collection)--but, still, two strong bets for horror fans. -- Copyright ©1993, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.