Hot Best Seller

Twists of the Tale: An Anthology of Cat Horror

Availability: Ready to download

In this extraordinary collection, 24 master storytellers look into the inscrutable eyes of the cat and see a reflection of the frightening, the fantastic, and the bizarre. In "The Cat From Hell", Stephen King unravels a most unusual killing for hire. Joyce Carol Oates delves into a mother's worst nightmare in "Nobody Knows My Name", while Gahan Wilson's "Best Friends" tell In this extraordinary collection, 24 master storytellers look into the inscrutable eyes of the cat and see a reflection of the frightening, the fantastic, and the bizarre. In "The Cat From Hell", Stephen King unravels a most unusual killing for hire. Joyce Carol Oates delves into a mother's worst nightmare in "Nobody Knows My Name", while Gahan Wilson's "Best Friends" tells of pampered cats, gentle mistresses, and bloodshed.


Compare

In this extraordinary collection, 24 master storytellers look into the inscrutable eyes of the cat and see a reflection of the frightening, the fantastic, and the bizarre. In "The Cat From Hell", Stephen King unravels a most unusual killing for hire. Joyce Carol Oates delves into a mother's worst nightmare in "Nobody Knows My Name", while Gahan Wilson's "Best Friends" tell In this extraordinary collection, 24 master storytellers look into the inscrutable eyes of the cat and see a reflection of the frightening, the fantastic, and the bizarre. In "The Cat From Hell", Stephen King unravels a most unusual killing for hire. Joyce Carol Oates delves into a mother's worst nightmare in "Nobody Knows My Name", while Gahan Wilson's "Best Friends" tells of pampered cats, gentle mistresses, and bloodshed.

30 review for Twists of the Tale: An Anthology of Cat Horror

  1. 4 out of 5

    Bonnie Morse

    How much did I love this book? So much. So. So. Much. I love cats and I don't love animal harm, and yet--this book. It took almost two weeks to get enough distance to try to review it. I woke up in the morning excited to get out of bed and start reading, and yet it took a week to finish because I needed to savor (nearly) every story as much as possible. That said, some stories were more savory than others. Normally I don't dig into short story collections. Generally I find that it's either a good How much did I love this book? So much. So. So. Much. I love cats and I don't love animal harm, and yet--this book. It took almost two weeks to get enough distance to try to review it. I woke up in the morning excited to get out of bed and start reading, and yet it took a week to finish because I needed to savor (nearly) every story as much as possible. That said, some stories were more savory than others. Normally I don't dig into short story collections. Generally I find that it's either a good collection and recommend the book as a whole, or the quality is lacking overall. It depends on the author, or, as in this case, the editor. I've read a few Ellen Datlow collections and imo this is the most solid, probably because the uniting theme is so strong. Horror authors like to play around the edges of things sometimes, but in this case the title promised us cats and Ellen Datlow (mostly) delivered cats. I'll start at my beginning, where I bought the book to read Stephen King's unfortunately titled and entirely predictable The Cat From Hell. I just learned of its existence, having stopped reading King's new books in the early '00s, well before it was included in one of his collections, and was ridiculously excited to read a "new" story from the '70s. He wrote what I still consider to be some really good short fiction back then, and only one other story that I know of with a cat (L.T.'s Theory of Pets, from 2005's Everything's Eventual), so I optimistically paid for a used paperback and read it first. It was--not good. The plot is overly explained for how basic it is--paranoid old man thinks cat will kill him, hires expensive hitman to kill cat, requires hitman to do it far away, not right now while literally holding sleeping cat. Hitman drives away with cat, imagines how it would have killed someone in a car, lets cat kill him in exact same way, followed by unnecessary gross-out on unsuspecting passer-by. I won't go into the gross except to say that it's basically the same as 1922 but with a cat. It's such a pared down basic bitch example of early King, it's almost a parody. Lesson learned: if it wasn't collected back when he was just another writer who had to fight to get published like everyone else, there's probably a good reason for that. ANIMAL HARM TALLY: FIST FIGHT WITH A CAT--HUMAN LOSES However. That crap story did do its job of selling the book so I could discover excellent stories, like No Heaven Will Not Ever Be by AR Morlan, a gorgeous testimony to the beauty of cats and the power of art. It's not a long story but I took two days to read it, just to stretch it out and live in it longer. Reader, I could have wallowed in this story forever. I wish I was in it still. ANIMAL HARM TALLY: Negative 4 Nancy Kress's Marigold Outlet is a powerful story in its own way, but it's not happy. Our unreliable POV is an a deeply troubled child who lives increasingly in his own world with a cat that, in our world, is an optical effect, like a handheld magic lantern. It's engrossing, distressing, and fits perfectly in this collection. ANIMAL HARM TALLY: ONE It was when I got to the third story, White Rook, Black Pawn by Susan Wade, that I really settled in to enjoy myself. This is the tale of a fire fighter (another of my favorite subjects) who discovers an intricate game of chess going on around him. On his street, in his fire district, in his city, and around the nation. Are the teams of black and white cats controlling events with their live action, kill or be killed street chess, or are they merely representing what will occur? Our protagonist doesn't know, either, but that doesn't stop him from making decisions that will ripple across Texas and maybe the world to get what he thinks he needs. Definitely one of my favorites, partly because the end is so shocking and unexpected. ANIMAL HARM TALLY: CAT CHESS TAKES NO PRISONERS Best Friends by Gahan Wilson is about cats without actually featuring any. A meeting between two witches tells us more than mere mortals are meant to know about how familiars are obtained, and how much they really bring to the relationship. ANIMAL HARM TALLY: FEAR THE CATS--THE CATS NEED NOT FEAR YOU Nicholas Royal's Skin Deep spins off in another direction entirely with two men hunting a cat that may not even exist for taxidermic purposes, and stumbling into an episode of Tales from the Crypt. Cat adjacent at best, it's really a suspense/romance that kind of fails at both. Probably one I'll skip on the reread. ANIMAL HARM TALLY: GROSS DESCRIPTIONS OF TAXIDERMYING Homage to Custom by Kathe Koja and Barry N Malzberg is the first one I didn't finish. It opens with the words "The whore's cat", and goes on to say it has diabetes. You know from the outset that it's not going to go well for any of these characters, and it doesn't. They don't even have names for the first few pages, just the whore and the whore's cat. I found both extremely off-putting, and it just kept getting worse. I tried skimming and finally just read the last two pages. It was still too much. ANIMAL HARM TALLY: EVERYONE DIES IN THE END Douglas Glegg's The Five was more disturbing for being better written and more palatable, right up until I figured out what was going on. Then it was tragic on about four different levels, with the titular baby kittens, two lying parents, a shouty, molesty, dad, and a little girl slowly losing her mind from it all. Normally I have trouble understanding these kinds of stories where the narrator is unreliable and the characters all disagree about events. But events in The Five are only too clear. I got it so completely that I never have to worry about reading it again, and that's the best thing I can say for what is otherwise an objectively "good" story. ANIMAL HARM TALLY: ALL FIVE Michael Cadnum's The Man Who Did Cats Harm is a short comedy for those who have a high tolerance for humorous, fictional, animal-related accidents. The ending is pretty funny, in cleverly karmic fashion, and I'll probably read it again. ANIMAL HARM TALLY: ALL OF IT Michael Marshal Smith’s Not Waving is another one of those stories that’s objectively good in every way that matters, yet left me shattered and reeling, wondering how a man even thought of such a thing and why we weren’t warned. It starts as a fairly ordinary romance. A man who loves cats marries a woman who doesn’t, than falls for another woman who does. No one actually owns a cat, they just know how to find them. In a city absolutely littered with strays, a friendly furry cheek is never far away for a man who knows where to look. Until his wife finds out and fixes his little red wagon for good. Similar to a Tales From the Crypt plot, twist-wise, but less stupid punning and more the protagonist is going to commit suicide before his kid finishes high school because how can live with this? And when he does, his wife is going to have a hard time explaining the note. ANIMAL HARM TALLY: ONE Ruskie by William S Burroughs is three pages of nonsense about a cat that’s alive for half that length and then—I don’t know what. I read it several times and if it means what I think it does, it wasn’t worth it. Burroughs’ name was the draw but it didn’t work for me. Too cutsie and silly and then too awful and weird. Still want to read some of his other stuff, though. ANIMAL HARM TALLY: RUSKIE Flattened Fauna Poem #37 Cats by Jane Yolen Come at me. Didn’t read. ANIMAL HARM TALLY: FIXING TO CUT A BITCH On the other hand, Storm Constantine’s Of a Cat, But Her Skin is a masterpiece of storytelling. It’s similar in many ways to Not Waving, but seen through a woman’s eyes and without the adultery. It’s also a much happier story, of a woman finding her power and a cat choosing her home. ANIMAL HARM TALLY: ONE DOUCHENOZZLE Lucy Taylor’s Walled can be summed up in two words: Ghost Cat. If you want a third: Tearjerker. Worth it? YMMV. I’d give it 3 stars, yet could have done without it. ANIMAL HARM TALLY: 207 YEAR OLD GHOST CAT Catch by Ray Vukcevich is the one story I for sure will never read again. In a dystopian future of indeterminate year, a married couple makes a living at the inexplicable job of tossing cats back and forth between them. And sometimes other people. Apparently a lot of people do this? Maybe it’s a government job? I don’t know. It’s not explained. All we really know is that it isn’t good for the people and it’s very bad for the cats. There is a point to the story, which I found fascinating despite myself. I only wish the author had found some other way of phrasing it. ANIMAL HARM TALLY: CAN’T MATH THAT HIGH Steven Spruill’s Humane Society is a bit of a break after the fearful intensity of Catch. It’s a mediocre male-gazey story about a woman manipulating a serial killer via possession of his cat, the only living thing he values. All very ordinary and predictable, but no one gets raped on screen and the cat survives. ANIMAL HARM TALLY: NONE Joel Lane’s Scratch picks up where Humane Society left off, taking it to the next level of raped and murdered children, dead pets, dead families, dead dreams in cities of the dead. What’s the point of any of it? Does anybody even care? ANIMAL HARM TALLY: WHAT DOES IT EVEN MATTER NO ONE LOVES US WE’RE ALL GOING TO DIE So Joyce Carol Oates writes horror? About cats? Imagine my surprise when I encountered her here in the form of Nobody Knows My Name, the tale of a jealous little girl, our unreliable narrator, who can’t stand sharing her parents and her life with her new baby sister. There is a cat. (Or is there?) Who does a terrible thing. (Or does he? That depends on if he’s real.) I think there is a cat, but that’s what unreliable narrators are all about. It’s possible the cat also talks. He’s on the side of the jealous child, though, whom only he seems to understand. I don’t know if I love it, but I will be reading more JCO. ANIMAL HARM TALLY: CAT 1, BABY 0 Harvey Jacobs’ Thank You For That is a fun if slightly dark tribute to the mighty feline huntress and all her many gifts. Thank you for that, thank you for that. You are a gentle and generous cat Jubal’s owner sings in gratitude, as Jubal brings home mice and birds, and eventually bits of human bodies. But what does one do with such offerings? Other than keep singing, that is? ANIMAL HARM TALLY: EVERYONE BUT CAT AND MASTER Martha Soukup’s To Destroy Rats takes the opposite tack with a cat that’s completely useless at hunting, leaving the man who possesses it to take over the battle himself. He succeeds, apparently, but only by becoming Cat himself. ANIMAL HARM TALLY: ONE ABANDONED CAT AND SO JUST SO MANY MANY RATS In I Gatti de Roma by Sara Clemens a woman meets her stepmother and stepbrother in Rome to scatter the ashes of her suicide father, only to be followed everywhere by roughly all of the cats in Italy. Protective cats who know more about her stepbrother than she does, and she knows he’s an abusive twat who sexually molests her in front of family at every opportunity. But these cats who are fully prepared to do something about it when his violence escalates and spreads outside the family. ANIMAL HARM TALLY: SOME NICE ROMAN GIRLS AND A RAPIST, NO CATS Nina Kiriki Hoffman follows two Incidental Cats as they try to puzzle out a murder with serious implications. What’s wrong with the tree-legs? Where is Tree-legs-who-stole-the-cat’s-place-on-the-bed? And most importantly, who’s going to serve dinner? ANIMAL HARM TALLY: 1 TREE-LEGS VS CATS FIGHT, VICTORY FELINE The collection ends with Tannith Lee’s Flowers for Faces, Thorns for Feet, which might be the single best one sentence description of cats in general that I’ve ever heard. I wish I liked the story as well, but it’s just really solidly NOT MY THING. It’s actually several stories in one, beginning with a witch hunt that caught a few real witches, and moving further into fairy land from there. It’s well written, she has all the talent, technique, and editing that my picky heart demands, I just don’t like these kinds of stories. I find fairies and witches and talking cats tedious and galling under any but the most extreme circumstances (e.g. Neil Gaiman’s Sandman, but literally nothing else by Neil Gaiman ever don’t try me.) I wasn’t able to finish it so I don’t know if the stories tied together or if there’s an AHT. The cats were doing fine when I noped out, though, and overall it felt very positive. And that’s my summary of the book in general. Occasionally had to nope out, but overall it was an extremely positive and enjoyable read.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Christine

    This is an okay collection. It is not a stand-out collection, but it is not a bad collection. Some of the stories in it are very good, others not so much. The best two stories are "No Heaven Will Not Ever Heaven Be" by A.R. Marlan and "White Rook, Black Pawn" by Susan Wade. "No Heave" is about an artist and his love for cats, while "White Rook" combines a failing family, fires, and chess. Another good one is the short story "Best Friends" where the writer trusts the reader. This is an okay collection. It is not a stand-out collection, but it is not a bad collection. Some of the stories in it are very good, others not so much. The best two stories are "No Heaven Will Not Ever Heaven Be" by A.R. Marlan and "White Rook, Black Pawn" by Susan Wade. "No Heave" is about an artist and his love for cats, while "White Rook" combines a failing family, fires, and chess. Another good one is the short story "Best Friends" where the writer trusts the reader.

  3. 4 out of 5

    JLJ

    "Cats, on the other hand, conjure darker images - willfulness, self-interest, and mystery." I found this anthology to be a very enjoyable read. Cats occupy a special place in my heart and I've always found their relationship with humans through the ages to be fascinating. The 24 talented authors who contributed to this anthology all spin tales of bizarre and weird fiction around our mysterious companions, and the result is captivating. Be forewarned that although the cat lover in me was incessantl "Cats, on the other hand, conjure darker images - willfulness, self-interest, and mystery." I found this anthology to be a very enjoyable read. Cats occupy a special place in my heart and I've always found their relationship with humans through the ages to be fascinating. The 24 talented authors who contributed to this anthology all spin tales of bizarre and weird fiction around our mysterious companions, and the result is captivating. Be forewarned that although the cat lover in me was incessantly thrilled, the horror lover was left hungry for more. Stand-outs of the anthology are, in my opinion, "Not Waving" by Michael Marshall Smith, "Of a Cat, But Her Skin" by Storm Constantine, "The Cat From Hell" by Stephen King, "Humane Society" by Steven Spruill, "Thank You for That" by Harvey Jacobs and "Flowers for Faces, Thorns for Feet" by Tanith Lee. (I realized when trying to pick my favorites out of the table of contents that not a single story was boring to me however! There is a lot of talent in this book.)

  4. 4 out of 5

    Ronald Wise

    A collection of 22 stories and a poem – all with a touch of horror and involving cats in some manner. With the exception of two reprints (Stephen King’s “The Cat from Hell” and William S. Burroughs’ “Ruski”), all were original pieces. Many were mediocre, though enjoyable. The ones that really struck a chord were: “Marigold Outlet” by Nancy Kress, “Homage to Custom” by Kathe Koja and Barry N. Malzberg; “Flowers for Faces, Thorns for Feet” by Tanith Lee; and the poem “Flattened Fauna Poem #37: Cat A collection of 22 stories and a poem – all with a touch of horror and involving cats in some manner. With the exception of two reprints (Stephen King’s “The Cat from Hell” and William S. Burroughs’ “Ruski”), all were original pieces. Many were mediocre, though enjoyable. The ones that really struck a chord were: “Marigold Outlet” by Nancy Kress, “Homage to Custom” by Kathe Koja and Barry N. Malzberg; “Flowers for Faces, Thorns for Feet” by Tanith Lee; and the poem “Flattened Fauna Poem #37: Cats” by Jane Yolen.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Thomas

    The highlights from this anthology are about what you would expect; they're by Gahan Wilson, Michael Marshall Smith, Jane Yolen, Joyce Carol Oates, and Tanith Lee. They're all legends, and most everything they write is worth reading. There are some other stories worth noting, too -- by Joel Lane, Lucy Taylor, Douglas Clegg, Nicholas Royle, and A.R. Morlan -- by authors who are less known, but are no less deft at writing a good, eerie story. There's a lot of quality in this anthology. The highlights from this anthology are about what you would expect; they're by Gahan Wilson, Michael Marshall Smith, Jane Yolen, Joyce Carol Oates, and Tanith Lee. They're all legends, and most everything they write is worth reading. There are some other stories worth noting, too -- by Joel Lane, Lucy Taylor, Douglas Clegg, Nicholas Royle, and A.R. Morlan -- by authors who are less known, but are no less deft at writing a good, eerie story. There's a lot of quality in this anthology.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Kristen (belles_bookshelves)

    "What’s a day without a cat?" After reading Snow White, Blood Red, I was really excited to read this anthology since it's all tales based around cats. But I feel like it was lacking wen compared to the previous Datlow anthology I read. There were some good stories in here, but I found more of them boring than I thought I would. "What’s a day without a cat?" After reading Snow White, Blood Red, I was really excited to read this anthology since it's all tales based around cats. But I feel like it was lacking wen compared to the previous Datlow anthology I read. There were some good stories in here, but I found more of them boring than I thought I would.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Jakurt Guthorst

    In zu vielen der insgesamt eher mäßig guten Geschichten spielen Katzen nur eine sehr kleine Rolle.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Mari Doroud

    This book was given to me as a gift years ago and I finally sat down and read it. Some of the stories were very enjoyable although I’d only call a few “horror”.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Cep Subhan KM

    My favorite one is Stephen King's "The Cat from Hell," a long short story which is unique in theme, simple in its narration, but provides a great ending. My favorite one is Stephen King's "The Cat from Hell," a long short story which is unique in theme, simple in its narration, but provides a great ending.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Natalie

    It's horror stories! With a cat theme! Why did I think this would be a good idea to purchase at the book store?! There were one or two decent enough stories, but I ended up trading this in for used-bookstore credit, which is something I rarely do. It's horror stories! With a cat theme! Why did I think this would be a good idea to purchase at the book store?! There were one or two decent enough stories, but I ended up trading this in for used-bookstore credit, which is something I rarely do.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Reba

    Like any anthology, some stories were great. Some, not so good.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Jeannie Sloan

  13. 5 out of 5

    Dnewz

  14. 4 out of 5

    igor kalinov

  15. 5 out of 5

    Kenneth Darland

  16. 5 out of 5

    Alison C

  17. 4 out of 5

    Vlad

  18. 5 out of 5

    Ema Rotvel

  19. 5 out of 5

    Jonathan

  20. 4 out of 5

    Trisha

  21. 5 out of 5

    Kadi

  22. 5 out of 5

    ValeAiko85

  23. 4 out of 5

    Milantropio

  24. 5 out of 5

    JayDeeReading

  25. 5 out of 5

    Sheila

  26. 4 out of 5

    Tara Wurts

  27. 5 out of 5

    Ju

  28. 5 out of 5

    Julie Durovchic

  29. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer Cullen

  30. 5 out of 5

    Arsemagicka

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.