It’s no secret that I love a good monster anthology and so when I saw Impossible Monsters cross my feeds I slapped it on my Amazon wishlist for later and received it this past Christmas from my in-laws.
The idea behind Impossible Monsters is an anthology of short stories that revolve around original monsters of one kind or another and, for the most part, we get that. Featuring a list of well-known authors such as Neil Gaiman, Cody Goodfellow, Charlane Harris, and Joe R. Lansdale, some of those stories hit that mark better than others. “Click-Clack the Rattlebag”, Gaiman’s contribution, offers up a misleading story of what the monster is that builds until that moment when the reveal happens and the victim realizes it’s too late. “Cavity Creeps” by Goodfellow is a story where the main character’s situation in life is shown to be more horrific than the monsters he encounters. “Bloaters” by Neal Barrett, Jr is a new twist on the idea of the vampire in a uniquely (and very disgusting) way. Others such as “Orange Lake”, “Doll’s Eyes” (a creepy and very poisonous plant), and “Blood Moccasins” also feature new monsters and are decent enough.
However, some of the others, while not your standard monster, didn’t offer something new. “Blue Amber” is a story about aliens (grays specifically) infiltrating the planet and while it’s horrific, it’s an idea we’ve seen before. “The Glitter of the Crowns” features a werewolf that’s not the monster in a fairly expected fashion if you’re able to read between the lines. Two other stories try some misdirection and don’t really pull it off too well in “Detritus” and “Nathan”. The final story by the editor’s father, “The Case of the Angry Traveler”, while very good, enjoyable, and well-written, is a story that I’ve seen before in multiple places in multiple ways.
As a horror anthology, I kind of feel about Impossible Monsters like I did about The Monster’s Corner: entertaining but, in the end, it didn’t really wow me. For instance, it’s been a year since I read “Not From Around Here” by David J. Schow from the Creatures anthology, who also wrote “Blue Amber” for Impossible Monsters, and I still shudder when I think about it and so it’s a little bit of a let down when I compare those two stories by the same author and don’t feel the same way. Now, I do want to say that it could simply be that this anthology’s stories didn’t really hit any of my particular buttons. Looking back at the stories that really impacted me in Creatures were ones that had some personal relevance, especially stories where innocent children end up being victims, and that could be part of the issue.
In the end, if you want an anthology about (mostly) original monsters that are entertaining and written well that isn’t too scary/horrific, Impossible Monsters would be a good choice.