REVIEW: What the #@&% Is That? The Saga Anthology of the Monstrous and the Macabre (Book)
Edited by John Joseph Adams and Douglas Cohen
Published by Saga Press
What the #@&% Is That? The Saga Anthology of the Monstrous and the Macabre, edited by John Joseph Adams and Douglas Cohen, is a collection of short stories, all of which contain the line “What the fuck is that?” As gimmicky as that may sound, this renowned editing duo was able to round up some of the best names in sci-fi, fantasy, and horror to contribute to the book. Names like New York Times best-selling authors Scott Sigler and Jonathan Maberry, to name a couple.
The idea of this book grew from a meme about the mythical creature Cthulhu. Originally the idea was for every story to be about Cthulhu, but as time progressed and the editing team changed, so too did the idea. This, I’m sure, was for the better, as it allowed the contributing authors to really spread their wings and take flight with the idea.
This collection of stories is a fantastic one. They range from fairly goofy to hardcore dark and disturbing, but all are exceptional in their content and ability to deliver a punch. It was hard for me to put down the book. Even now, after having read it some time ago, I find images created by the authors floating around in my head.
One of my favorites was “Those Gaddam Cookies” by Scott Sigler. This sci-fi piece with a horrific edge flew off the page, and I nearly burned up the book flipping pages as fast as possible to see what would happen next. This story is one of the few cases where I guessed the ending very early on, but the read was so well crafted that I still enjoyed myself right until the last word.
Another favorite of mine was “#connollyhouse #weshouldntbehere” by award-winning Seanan Mcguire. The experimental nature of this story had me worried at first – it’s written completely in Tweets – but it quickly won me over. The format didn’t detract from the creepy feel or the scenes she was able to paint. Watch out for the twist ending with this one! I didn’t see it coming.
Another pat on the back the editors deserve is the inclusion of so many female writers. Often in the horror and sci-fi genres, women authors are under-represented. Here seven out of the twenty stories are written by women. This is fantastic to see and, as a female horror/sci-fi writer myself, a trend that I find encouraging. The diverse voices in this anthology are just one of the hallmarks of a well-crafted book.
If you’re looking for a read (or lots of reads, as the case may be) that’s equally fun, scary, and thoughtprovoking, then What the #@&% Is That? will be up your alley. With editors as experienced as John Joseph Adams and Douglas Cohen, I’d be surprised if most horror/sci-fi fans don’t enjoy it. The only rating I could possibly give the book is five stars.
I wrote and published this review originally for Dread Central. See the original post here.