Thursday, February 17, 2011

The End of the Line

The End of the Line
Edited by Jonathan Oliver

Solaris, 2010

What could be better than to pick up an anthology of British horror and read it a little every night? And if the authors of this anthology are horror dream team? The presence of star names, however, does not guarantee one hundred percent satisfaction from reading the book. Some authors confirmed that they are masters regardless of what they write. Another part moves only on the surface, not down there in the subway, in the dark tunnels of fear, in the trains full of despair and powerlessness.

All the stories in this anthology in one way or another connected with the subway. Topic is extremely interesting: subway, despite the level of technological development, the perfection of the security of the metro passengers, continues to keep dark secrets. It's worthy noting that there are no poorly written stories in the anthology (remember: all the authors are professionals, all famous writers), but some of them do not have enough depth. Fear is always hiding inside, not outside, and those writers who are not digging in, not sink into the ground, provided good stories, which, however, can hardly be called outstanding.

The first strong story in the collection - «The Lure» by Nicholas Royle. This is also most complicated story in a book, full of silences, omissions, secrets - secrets that we hide inside ourselves. The action of the story takes place in Paris, and Royle writes ease with the French. His story smells of French perfume, but it's not the smell that you want to inhale. «The Roses That Bloom Underground» by Al Ewing is much more straightforward, but appealing with ease and ill-concealed black humor. Candidate for mayor of London offers three weeks for completely renovation of the subway, if the people elect him. There is absolutely no dirt in the renovated subway, doors close silently, seats are not broken, subway inspires people a sense of happiness: you bet - it even smells like roses. But for the convenience you always have to pay.

Ironically, in the second half of the book there are much more outstanding short stories than in the first one. The best of them «In the Colosseum» Stephen Volk. Volk, like no one else succeeded in the short story to show how people go crazy and what this person feels. To get a good order, Marcus agrees to take part in the party, which his future boss organizes. Marcus and others from the party go down to the underground and locked themselves in the room, where the monitors are installed by security cameras. And what is displayed on these monitors, it is not something that every one of us would like to see. «In the Colosseum» is a story- mirror in which the author invites us to look and see what lies within us and those who are close to us. Michael Marshall Smith’s «Missed Connection» reveals the characteristic feature of the human: we are looking to the last of a logical explanation, even if everything does not fit in the usual course of things. Hero of the story comes out in a subway station, hoping to quickly get to the store to buy a family Christmas gifts. But not a soul around him, escalators don't work, so that the protagonist seems that the station is just shut down for repairs. «Siding 13» by James Lovegrove is rather a nice joke, but still creepy. «Crazy Train» by Natasha Rhodes exploits bored theme «death and rock 'n' roll», but it does so not without grace. The narrator of the story is committed suicide bassist of rock group, which have been woken up near the bar by a woman, suggesting the dead go to a concert. Musician is stunned, but agrees to travel on a crazy train. He does not know who this girl is and what this trip will lead to. Joel Lane in «All Dead Years» tells the story of two women - therapist Val and her patient Helen. Helen suffers from mental disorder: as soon as she descends into the subway, she becomes ill, she gasps, and she sees corpse remains in the walls. Desire to help the patient leads Val to strange consequences. Lane's prose is imbued with compassion and suffering. In this story, he showed how people can stay alone with the emptiness.

«The End of the Line» is very high-quality anthology of short stories in which a third of the outstanding, and the rest just good.

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