Remember Why You Fear Me, by Stephen Jones is in most respects a book of this author's impressive horror stories. But if you grab this one do not expect your standard horror market fair. Jones' stories are bizarre to put it mildly. Yes, they are horrific because you would not want anything like he describes to happen to you or anyone you know, but they are not horror tales in a traditional sense. I might be tempted to call them mind melting. Below is a quick summary of the tales that lurk among these pages.
The book starts with, Mortal Coil, in which the entire world getting an apology letter of sorts. The results of this letter is that all of the people on Earth get a personal letter that says when you will be dying. This of course changes humanity quickly, except for poor Harry who never received his letter.
Second up is George Clooney's Mustache. In some respects this could have been the most 'normal' horror story of the lot, if Jones did not provide some unusual twists. A woman finds herself prisoner but before to long it is hard to determine who is getting more out of the situation.
Third in the line up is Damned is You Don't. Okay, this story is just mouth droppingly weird. It takes courage to even write a story about a man that goes to hell and falls in love with Hilter's dog. But hats off to Jones for pushing the envelope and reminding authors that as writers the only limits are those we place on ourselves.
Roadkill is another story that leaves you saying what... ? and this happens before you are even done. Yep that thing you just hit in the road is a flying bunny. The only thing worse could be ending up in a bed a breakfast were the nasty old couple waits for you to have sex and then outlasts you. Motel 6 never looked better.
Next up is Clown Envy. Again, did someone call the bizarre alert? Everyone in town wants to join the circus, no matter what job they have. Why is this, because the circus is the most admired of all jobs. It gets weirder from there.
This could almost be a drama tale. In Good Grief two husbands that have lost their wives try to help each other out. And this is something Jones does. He takes real and oft times difficult situation and then changes them slightly to make the character not only deal with the real issue, but the oddness from left field as well.
The above only covers about half of the stories offered, but should be enough to let you know if this is the type of book you would like to check out or not. Jones is a very talented and extremely inventive writer. I was impressed by the places he took the reader.
The reason he did not receive a higher score from me, and I could see someone giving him a 4 or 4.5 easily, is because these were not the type of horror stories that get me in the gut. I like the idea of being stalked, and the like, where these were more of an: imagine reality is tossed out the window and you had to deal with this. Also the properness of the English mind made me lose a little steam. The protagonists were all so reserved in the face of danger and chaos, where I might have grabbed an axe and screamed, "what the hell!"
If you like you horror bizarre and inventive this could be a perfect book for you. It is a bit esoteric and requires some thinking. It also hits on a few taboo subjects so beware. I would recommend it to all horror fans that like thinking their ways through the nightmares.
Michael D. Griffiths