Geek Girls Rule! #247 – Review: Supernatural Noir


Fantastic book with a beautiful cover illustration by Greg Ruth. Seriously, I'm kind of tempted to get this as a tattoo.
Fantastic book with a beautiful cover illustration by Greg Ruth. Seriously, I’m kind of tempted to get this as a tattoo.

Supernatural Noir is a short story collection, edited by Ellen Datlow (one of the best SF/F collection editors ever in my opinion) and published by Dark Horse Comics.  The stories all concern supernatural elements, in a very noir style.  Many of them emulate the literature of the Noir period (1930s) embodied in the works of writers like Dashiell Hammet and Raymond Chandler in setting as well as tone, while some take place in more modern times.

There is not a clunker in this whole collection.  While I enjoyed some of the stories more than others, I liked them all a great deal.  Though I have no trouble picking my favorite, “The Maltese Unicorn” by Caitlin R. Kiernan.  I do, however, have trouble picking a second or third runner up.  Other authors who contributed to this collection include Melanie Tem, Nick Mamatas, Elizabeth Bear, Tom Piccirilli, as well as a host of others.

Ok, if hard pressed I think I’d choose Elizabeth Bear’s “The Romance” as my second, but that is all the ranking I could possibly do here.  Every story in this book is spectacular.  There’s one or two that don’t really scream “Noir” to me, but as in all things artistic, there’s a lot subjective about that description.

If you like supernatural horror and/or mystery stories, you’ll love this collection.  I cannot stress how much I adored Kiernan’s “The Maltese Unicorn.”  I thought it was a masterful homage to Hammett and a fantastic read.

Ellen Datlow has done it again with a simply wonderful collection of stories.  I always pick up collections she’s edited, particularly those she’s edited in the past with Terri Windling, because I know I will enjoy every single story in them.  And blessings on Dark Horse for printing this collection.  I was pleased, entertained, and gripped by every story in this book.

If I seem overly excited about this, it’s because it combines three of my all-time favorite genre loves, horror, mystery and fantasy, and does it well!  I kind of feared that it couldn’t do what I wanted it to do, but it did.  Brilliantly.

I would unreservedly recommend this to anyone into any of the three genres, or anyone specifically into urban fantasy.

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