Ah, the innocence of childhood, those rose-tinted days of warm security and grass-scented summers. Idyllic and wonderful right up to the point where a group of horror writers take the magic and run with it.
The horror genre has a long history of twisting childhood tropes into something darker with It and Chucky perhaps being the best known examples of the type.
So when my contributor copy of Sha’Daa Toys arrived (I have a story in this one entitled “Between Boy and Man”), I was pretty sure I knew what to expect. I’d been in a couple of Sha’Daa anthologiess before, after all.
Nevertheless, I was still surprised by the sheer breadth of the stories within. An impressive lineup of writers takes on the question: if the apocalypse is upon us and there are enchanted toys out there–both on the side of good and the side of evil–what would it look like?
The answers are as varied as the writers.
From teddy bears to toy blocks to GI Joe dolls, everything anyone ever wanted to play with is in here. I personally believe that Etch-A-Sketches were always the work of hell, so not surprised to see one of those there either. It’s strange that no one included the most evil toy ever, the Rubik’s cube.
And the stories are just as varied as the toys themselves. Hyper-dark, heartwarming, adventure-driven and even humorous, they keep this hefty (nearly 400 pages) volume from becoming monotonous.
The Sha’Daa series is one of the longest-running shared-world anthos out there, and this book is a good example of why. It stands alone and each writer’s voice comes through clearly… and yet, it is of a piece with the rest of the series. This is a series that should continue for a long, long time.
Favorite story? I’ll go with “Samuel Meant Well and the Little Black Cloud of the Apocalypse” by Shebat Legion and Joe Bonadonna, mainly because the little black cloud of the title is a memorable character in itself.
Pick one of these up. It doesn’t matter which: they are all a treat for horror lovers looking for something a little different.
Gustavo Bondoni is an Argentine author whose collection Off the Beaten Path was launched in August. There are some dark works in that one, too. You can check it out here.