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Welcome to Litro #138, our Horror issue. Within these pages we have some unique visions of what makes our skin crawl: hauntings and mythological deities, mad scientists and weirdly creepy trips to the cinema. What brings them together is the authors’ desire to make us scream. (If you want an example of how horror bleeds into the crime genre too, then be sure to check out our latest Book Club read – the dark and grisly Barcelona Shadows, by Marc Pastor.)
We’re thrilled to have a new piece from Toby Litt as this issue’s opener, a troubling short story called There was this boy I met at a party, years back. With its unexpected ending and distinctive voice it gives a truly modern flavour to the traditional haunting. Then acclaimed American author Richard Thomas takes us on a trip worthy of The Twilight Zone in Little Red Wagon, a touching (but disturbing) tale, with a twist in the end that reframes the entire story. Pete Segall’s Who Will Survive and What Will Be Left of Them? is similarly surreal but unsettling, as a trip to the cinema takes a sinister turn. Warning: you may never be able to eat peanut M&Ms again.
Krishan Coupland tackles slightly more traditional horror fare, although his unique vision gives 2001 an allegorical depth that you won’t often find in the genre. His simple revenge tale gets deeply weird and disturbing when Skylark and the Bug take to the skies. That’s followed by Sheila Armstrong’s Badhbh, a collision between ancient evil and modern civilisation with an intriguing folkloric angle. Then we close with a story by one of the emerging stars of the horror genre, Adam Nevill, whose dark imagination conjures up The Ancestors. Of all the stories in this issue, this is the one you’ll want to read with all the lights on.
Finally, we talk to Jeff VanderMeer, New York Times bestselling author of the eerily thrilling Southern Reach Trilogy. Anyone who’s read VanderMeer’s books will tell you that he has a truly unique take on the familiar horror tropes, and his recent trilogy contains some of the most unsettling scenes in modern literature. We’re also excited to have illustrations from two talented artists – Dan Henk and Jethro Lentle – so watch out for their artwork as you read.
We hope you enjoy Litro’s walk on the dark side. We dare you to read this issue alone, with the lights down low, as a storm rages outside and a branch tap-tap-taps at the window. Turning the page has never been so fraught with peril.