Out of Tune – A Review

A blog post from M. Fenn? Who knew that was going to happen again? Certainly not me. No guarantees on any consistency, but here’s a book review for you.

out of tune Out of Tune: All New Tales of Horror & Dark Fantasy
Jonathan Maberry, Editor
JournalStone (November 2014)

I was pleased to receive an Early Reviewer copy of Out of Tune from LibraryThing last year. The editor of this anthology, Jonathan Maberry, was a contributor to another JournalStone collection I enjoyed in 2014, and I was curious what he would do in the editor’s chair.

Out of Tune is a solid anthology with an interesting theme. These fourteen stories take as their inspiration old British and American folk tunes that range from “John Henry” and “Tam Lin” to “The Unquiet Grave” and “The Mermaid.” It’s fun to see what the authors do with them.

My favorite stories are the ones that take a nugget of inspiration from the chosen song and then branch out in an unexpected direction. For example, Gary A. Braunbeck‘s “John Wayne’s Dream” puts “The Streets of Laredo” in a very contemporary context with excellent results. Gregory Frost‘s “Bedlam” presents “The Demon Lover” in an especially chilling aspect, àpropos of the story’s title.

I also couldn’t help but be fond of Nancy Holder‘s “In Arkham Town, Where I was Bound.” Her homage to Edgar Allan Poe in this retelling of “Barbara Allen” is nigh on perfect.

Other stories in the collection didn’t grab me quite as well. “The Cruel Mother,” for example, is a ballad that can die and never come back, as far as I’m concerned, and turning its creepiness on to Peter Pan‘s Wendy Darling as Christopher Golden does in his story just feels mean. Other stories, too, stuck too close to the original songs for my taste.

That said, there is a lot of good reading in Out of Tune. Definitely worth checking out.

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