The Monster’s Corner was another anthology I became aware of this past October. Like the Creatures anthology I reviewed before, TMC is an anthology of stories about monsters. Written mostly by authors unknown to me (except for Kelley Armstrong, Kevin J. Anderson, and Simon Green), these stories all focus on tales told from the creature’s perspective, from ghouls to lake monsters; sentient, man-eating plants to Satan; the monsters in the stories present a pretty wide assortment of creatures to look at.
To be brief, I liked this anthology in general, mostly, but it didn’t blow me away like Creatures did. Being perfectly honest, none of these stories really got to me, none of them got under my skin; none of them scared me, pushed boundaries, made me consider or even raised anything particularly new and, considering these are stories about monsters and thus nominally horror, I think that’s a sin.
To me the stories in this anthology, when compared to Creatures, just felt tame. “Succumb” is a sex scene described via one-way dialogue of a succubus sexing a preacher to death that gives us fundamentally nothing new about succubi or fallen preachers. “Torn Stitches, Shattered Glass” is a mash-up of the Golem of Prague and Frankenstein set just before WWII in an utterly predictable fashion. “The Cruel Thief of Rosy Infants” tells the tale about the fae responsible for bringing changelings into our world by stealing children…but he’s actually a good and sympathetic character instead of someone to be feared.
In general, I’m not sure I understand the point of this anthology. The editor says in his foreword “Come, then, and look at things from a new perspective. See the world through inhuman eyes.” We do certainly get some views of the world from their perspective but I’m not certain it offers us anything new. Like I said above, “Succumb” doesn’t challenge our views on succubi or the world, the Frankenstein Monster hasn’t really changed from the protagonist (yes, he’s the protagonist) of the original novel. I think the closest to really giving us a shake-up on monsters is “And Still You Wonder Why Our First Impulse Is to Kill You: An Alphabetized Faux-Manifesto transcribed, edited, and annotated (under duress and protest)”, which lays out the idea that humanity was made by monsters so we, in our own ways, could appreciate them.
There were a few stories that do stand out from the others in my opinion, namely “Breeding Demons”, “The Lake”, and “The Screaming Room”. Each one offers some evocative imagery and do offer some nice perspective from the monsters’ point-of-view. “Breeding Demons” and “The Lake” both involve the idea of becoming the monster, where in the first one the main character struggles to avoid his fate while the main character in the latter embraces it wholeheartedly. “The Screaming Room” had some very nice subtly to it, a low-level of horror that rested just beneath the surface once you understood what was really going on (although who the monster is should be painfully obvious from the start, especially if you have any interest in Greek mythology).
In conclusion, if you want a mild book about monsters then The Monster’s Corner is for you, but if you’re looking for something to push your boundaries and/or scare you, I’d probably skip it for something else.