on December 15, 2002
QUEER FEAR II is a strong and scary follow-up to Volume One, which itself was the finest horror anthology to come out (ahem) in at least a decade. Standouts this time are "Bugcrush" by Scott Treleaven (utterly gross but a lot of fun); "Black Shapes in a Darkened Room" by Marshall Moore (elegant, scary, sad); "I Stand Alone" by Sephera Giron (harsh!); "On Being a Fetish" by David Coffey (perverse and fun); "Slice" by Warren Dunford (creepy!); and Gemma Files's brilliant novella "The Narrow World." The Poppy Z Brite story, "Bayou de la Mere," is not really horror but shows she has attained a real depth in her writing, and is a tantalizing preview of her two forthcoming novels. If you're a fan of well-written, cliche-free horror, don't pass this book by.
on June 15, 2004
This collection builds on the success of its predecessor. It's a tall order to put together an anthology like this, and Michael Rowe does an excellent job of assembly. What is Queer Horror anyway? How do we define it? Is it just ghost, vampire and monster stories that contain gay and lesbian characters? If this is the case, then we must be extremely broad in our inclusion. Perhaps Queer Horror is more about a perspective, a thrill or sense of loathing that stands outside the norm?
In Rowe's case, I feel that the latter definition is more appropriate. Over and over again, the stories in Queer Fear 2 take us away from the norm, inviting us to be a character on the outside looking in, a perspective that is only too familiar for glbt readers. And in this outsider perspective we find true horror, that which degrades us, dehumanizes us, which sets us up for failure. Repeatedly we see ordinary glbt characters put into extraordinary circumstances, with horrifying results. In C. Mark Umland's "Dead in the Water," we witness the horror of a gay man caught in a failing heterosexual marriage, desperately trying to come to terms with... himself. In Scott Treleaven's "Bugcrush," (which heads the collection and was one of my favorites) we find the teenage roots of many well-known queer addictions - drugs, sex, indulgence. The creeping sense of familiarity we gain at Ben's crush on Grant morphs from teenage nostalgia to adult sexual excess, all within the confines of a backyard shed. Here suddenly is the obsession that started it all, plotted before us in all it's skin-crawling detail.
More than just another horror anthology, glbt readers of all genres will find some fresh perspectives and some well-constructed stories in this volume.
on February 11, 2004
Though thoroughly disappointed by the first Queer Fear anthology, I picked up QF2 full of hope that the ratio of good stories to mediocre/bad stories would surpass that of QF1. Unfortunately, QF2 does not improve upon the first collection. Most of the stories are flat, with thesaurus-styled words that fail not only to produce horror, but also fail to provide any sense of time, place, atmosphere or emotional punch. There are, thankfully, two exceptions offered up here. Poppy Brite's piece, "Bayou de la Mere", though hardly horror in even the loosest definition of the word (it's inclusion, no doubt, designed to increase sales) does evoke a sensual yet real atmosphere and presents some interesting characters. The other is David Coffey's "On Being A Fetish" which is hands-down the best piece in the anthology and a smashingly good short story in its own right. Coffey give us a new spin on Ouija boards and tells his story in a simple but descriptive manner that manages to give us atmosphere, strong characters, and some dark laughs along the way. Coffey is certainly a writer whose work I will search out in the future. Other than those two pieces, though, QF2 falls into mediocrity. If this is the best gay horror out there, I would be shocked and disappointed.
on July 23, 2003
Building on the success of the first volume, Michael Rowe has brought together some familiar and new authors for this anthology of horror fiction featuring gay men and two stories featuring lesbians. Poppy Z. Brite brings us a Gothic story of two gay men in a Louisiana bayou that is connected to some of her other works. In Michael Thomas Ford's "Night of the Werepuss", a woman finds that her vagina has literally grown teeth. The stories by Robert Boyczuk, Nalo Hopkinson, and C. Mark Umland tantalize readers, while those by David Coffey and Scott Treleaven are disturbingly erotic. The final story, "The Narrow World" by Gemma Files, can be compared to some of Clive Barker's work, but with a distinct twist. While I think this volume is not as potent as the first, "Queer Fear II" is a marvelous companion to it that will send readers off to locate more by these twenty-two authors. "Queer Fear II" won a Lambda Literary Award, and is a finalist for the Spectrum Awards, honoring the best in gay and lesbian fantasy and science fiction.