I’m going to be honest: I rarely finish reading anthologies. Sometimes, the work just doesn’t resonate with me; other times, I simply don’t have enough time to read through it before the Next Big Thing on my reading list is released. So, when I accepted an ARC of Behold! Oddities, Curiosities, and Undefinable Wonders, I did so with the explanation that I’d try to have a review ready for launch day, but would make no promises.
But then something happened that almost never happens for me: I read the whole thing, and here I am, writing a review on launch day.
Every story in Behold! is excellent. With a lineup like this, you can’t really go wrong. Check this out: Clive Barker, Neil Gaiman, Ramsey Campbell, Lisa Morton, Brian Kirk, Hal Bodner, Stephanie M. Wytovich, John Langan, Erinn L. Kemper, John F.D. Taff, Patrick Freivald, Lucy A. Snyder, Brian Hodge, Kristi DeMeester, Christopher Coake, Sarah Read, and Richard Thomas.
I won’t recap all the stories here—I’ll leave those for you to discover—but I do want to give mention to several stand-out favorites in the collection:
- Brian Kirk’s “Wildflower, Cactus, Rose.”
- Hal Bodner’s “The Baker of Millepoix.”
- John Langan’s “Madame Painte: For Sale.”
- Erinn L. Kemper’s “Amelia’s Wake.”
- Patrick Freivald’s “Ed Pruitt’s Smoker.”
- Sarah Read’s “Through Gravel.”
- Stephanie Wyotivich’s “An Exhibition of Mother and Monsters.”
Each story will take you through a gauntlet of emotions, and I feel like these pieces best exemplify what Doug was going for in this collection: the bizarre, the unsettling, the fantastic, the magical, and the heartbreaking.
Doug Murano has done a wonderful job curating this collection. From the cover art by John Coulthart, to the interior design by Lori Michelle and illustrations by Luke Spooner, to the content itself, this book is a full package of speculative tales that lives up to its promise, a carnival sideshow of prose and poetry that will spark your imagination and break your heart.