The New Gothic anthology leads with its best story, “Dive In Me” by Jesse Bullington and S. J. Chambers. In it, 3 delinquent teens visit the fabled Suicide Sinks for a swim after one of them confirms the place’s existence. It wrings a surprising sense of doom from a sunny Florida locale using a great local legend and setting, common fears (of drowning, enclosed spaces, being far from help), and character. Though the end raised a few too many questions, this story made me glad I bought the book. Other highlights included “The Debt Collector” by Fi Mitchell, in which the titular character tries to collect from a vampire, and “Reading The Signs” by Ramsey Campbell, in which a lost motorist feels growing unease with the man and boy he gave a lift to after midnight. Some stories didn’t work for me, but most still had some merit.
Anything that makes you feel alive can’t be all that bad. This was the mantra that Gina used to justify all sorts of dubious adventures with Moira and Spring, the other two being decidedly less cautious than she when it came to, well, everything. … This plot, however, didn’t give her the same queasy-awesome thrill as smashing streetlights or boosting shitty jewelry from Claire’s, … This plan filled her with dread. For the first hour, she smoked cig after cig, trying to come up with a plan on how to either talk them out of it or get herself out of it. She was just waiting for an opening, but Moira’s enthusiasm kept common sense out of the conversation as they followed Spring until the cracked sidewalks gave way to the long grass that bordered the old highway leading out of town.
You can get The New Gothic at DriveThruFiction DRM-free in multiple formats (and 25% off through Halloween!), directly from the publisher’s badly-arranged website, or locked-down at the usual online giants. Samples are linked from the comments on the publisher’s page for the book.