Chiral Mad 4: An Anthology of Collaborations

Chiral Mad 4_Michael Bailey and Lucy A Snyder.jpg
Chiral Mad 4: An Anthology of Collaborations
By F. Paul Wilson, Elizabeth Bear, Bracken MacLeod, Seanan McGuire, Elizabeth Massie, Jack Ketchum, Brian Keene, Gwendolyn Kiste

Publisher: Written Backwards | Release Date: Oct. 23, 2018 | Pages: 386

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Although I haven’t read the previous three volumes, after reading Chiral Mad 4 I’m convinced I must go back and remedy this! Made up of four short stories, four novelettes, four novellas, and four graphic adaptations there is, quite literally, something for everyone. My interest was piqued after seeing the impressive contributor list of fine authors and artists. All of the different stories are a collaboration of two or more creatives and is edited by Michael Bailey and Lucy A. Snyder (also a collaboration!)

Right out of the gate is the story, “How We Broke” written by Bracken MacLeod and Paul Michael Anderson, two of my favorite authors. This story is about grown siblings revisiting some painful memories from their past through a project that the sister is conducting through a series of Polaroid pictures taken during a childhood vacation destination. The suspense was delicious — I hung on every word. A very compelling collaborative effort.

“Fade To Null” is Brian Keene's scalpel-edged sharp telling of the horrors of dementia both from the mind of the afflicted and from the experience of family members. Illustrated by Daniele Serra, a favorite artist of mine. What a treat! Very poignant, haunting and beautiful — the artwork is stunning.

“Asperitas” by Kristopher Triana and Chad Stroup was cosmic horror that builds a tremendous amount of tension and drama in a short amount of time. I was impressed with the way these two authors worked together to manipulate my emotions.

Another stand out was “Golden Sun,” a novella told through four different character's perspectives and written by four of my most beloved authors, Kristi DeMeester, Michael Wehunt, Damien Angelica Walters and Richard Thomas. The story was so engaging, and thinking back on it now the atmosphere and the feelings come rushing back instantly as if I had just finished it. I discussed the work with Kristi and Michael because I was so excited about this theory that I had about each one of them writing different parts and they both agreed that's how they wrote it but I 100% guessed all of it wrong — so I'd be curious, if you know of these writers and their unique voices, to see if you could guess which ones wrote which part. Message me somewhere if you think you have it (because now I know).

All the stories told in a graphic novella format were delightful, especially the last one with Jack Ketchum and Glenn Chadbourne. “Firedance” had this old timey snake-oil, whiskey voice, western vibe to it that felt authentic and genuine — Ketchum’s calling card.

I definitely recommend this anthology to horror fans who like to try something new and experimental and who also appreciate or “fan out” over seeing their favorite people do collaborative work together. It’s something that makes me excitable so I’m sure others out there love it too.