Queer Fear: Gay Horror Fiction


254 pages
ISBN 1-55152-084-2
DDC C813'.0873808920664





Edited by Michael Rowe
Reviewed by Ian C. Nelson

Ian C. Nelson is librarian emeritus and former Assistant Director of
Libraries (Collection Management & Budget) University of Saskatchewan
Library and Dramaturge for the Festival de la Dramaturgie des Prairies.


Author of Looking for Brothers and Writing Below the Belt, Michael Rowe
is co-editor of two acclaimed vampire anthologies of gay sensibility,
Sons of Darkness and Brothers of the Night. Queer Fear appears to be the
first anthology of the more general horror genre with gay protagonists
(only one lesbian story is included). And what a collection of
prodigiously productive authors Rowe has gathered: 18 contributors with
who knows how many Bram Stoker, International Horror Guild, Arthur
Ellis, and Lambda Literary awards to their credit. Readers of the genre
will recognize many of the authors and will be familiar with many of the
basic situations and plots, having encountered them in other horrific
guises. “The Sound of Weeping” by Thomas S. Roche is classic horror.
Other stories use the context of terror to launch into psychological
intrigue. The fascination with vampires looms large, but “No Silent
Scream,” for instance, deals with a man in the throes of environmental
rage. A fair number of pieces want to delve into philosophy or myth and
still others might be classified as mood pieces.

The general premise that “horror writers are simply trying to make
sense out of the chaos” probably does not give enough credit to the
gut reactions evoked in the reader by juicy gothic details and macabre
twists of plot. In this anthology, it is not surprising to find a common
context of gay characters doing battle against the darkness in a hostile
world made edgy because of their sexuality. What is surprising in some
pieces is the thinly disguised internal homophobia and ageism. “The
Bird Feeders” by David Nickle is a perfect example of this in an
otherwise compellingly disturbing piece. Likewise “Hey Fairy” by Edo
Van Belkom describes a sickening reversal of a fag bashing.

The quality of the pieces in this anthology is varied (one inclusion is
an overly self-conscious juvenile sketch), and styles range from those
mentioned above to the splendid “Nestle’s Revenge,” which very
successfully marries horror to camp. The book, beautifully designed and
printed, contains a distracting number of typographical errors and
skipped words.


“Queer Fear: Gay Horror Fiction,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 25, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/7593.