Ellen Datlow, ed.: “The Devil and the Deep – Horror stories of the Sea”(c) 2018.

Ellen Datlow is an excellent editor who has published numerous anthologies of SF, Fantasy, and horror stories.

The stories in “The Devil and the Deep” are original fiction, written for the anthology by 15 writers:

Simon Bestwick, Lee Thomas, Christopher Golden, Terry Dowling, Ray Cluley, Bradley Denton, Alyssa Wong, Stephen Graham Jones, Steve Rasnic Tem, A. C. Wise, Seanan McGuire, John Langan, Brian Hodge, Michael Marshall Smith, and Siobhan Carroll.

The stories turned out to be very imaginative, each with its own unique atmosphere of horror, of intense or unexplainable fear and dread faced by the characters.

Some of the stories are about terrifying sea creatures, others are about unknown and powerful sea forces, of sorcery and magic; of ghosts and ghostly ships; at least one werewolf story; and a story of a hi-tech conference thrown into savage madness and murder, by a lethal foggy miasma from the sea.

One story, “A Ship of the South Wind” by Bradley Denton, is set inland, on the American prairies, once an inland sea.

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Some of the featured writers whose stories I found to be particularly compelling, haunting with that deep sense of terror, with complex characters, and the dark mysteries of the Sea:

Seanan McGuire:
“Sister, Dearest Sister, Let Me Show to You the Sea”

The story is set along the Washington coast. Tracy survives her sister Maya’s attempt to drown her in volcanic tide pools. While Tracy is submerged in the water, four eels slither deep into her, ready to strike out in revenge …

Alyssa Wong:
“What My Mother Left Me”

A young woman’s nightmarish and almost deadly struggle to return to the sea after her discovery that her mother was a selkie. Her mom, who had died and been cremated …

Brian Hodge:
“He Sings of Salt and Wormwood”

On vacation along the Pacific, a surfer is undecided about his future. His wife loves to be near the sea, transforming driftwood into artistic pieces. But she will not venture on to the sea. On one dive the surfer finds the wreck of a sailing yacht, built with lots of wood …

Bradley Denton:
“A Ship of the South Wind”

This story is set inland on the American prairies, once an inland sea. The story is set in the 19th century, after the American Civil War. And with its “wind wagon” it has elements of a steampunk story. A story of unjust and wrongful acts, and of their dreadful consequences.

Terry Dowling:
“The Tryal Attract”

A whispering skull has been in an Australian family’s possession for five generations. The skull speaks in hissing sounds, of the sea and of an Australian shipwreck , “The Tryal”…

Ray Cluley:
“The Whalers Song”

A modern-day Norwegian whalers’ ship is wrecked in the Arctic. The whalers find themselves on a barren island, with giant whale skulls on the beach, and lances, from an ancient time in history…

A. C. Wise:
“A Moment Before Breaking”

A modern-day tale, of sorcery and magic. A young girl survives a shipwreck. And finds  her life is entangled with a kingdom of the sea …

Siobhan Carroll:
“Haunt”

Set in 1799 in the Indian Ocean, a maritime story of a ship plagued by  sickness, and death, and haunted by a ghostly ship and the dead. Siobhan Carroll draws on real stories of slave traders and their atrocities for this story.

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