Chiral Mad 3: The third act in the critically-acclaimed series by Written Backwards, is a symmetrically-structured anthology of psychological horror by Bram Stoker Award nominated editor Michael Bailey, whose previous anthologies include The Library of the Dead, Qualia Nous and Pellucid Lunacy. The anthology contains 45 illustrations by Glenn Chadbourne, over 20 stories by the likes of Stephen King, Jack Ketchum, Ramsey Campbell, Gary A. Braunbeck, Mort Castle, Josh Malerman, Scott Edelman, Richard Thomas, Richard Chizmar and Gene O’Neill, and with 20 intertwined poems by the likes of Elizabeth Massie, Marge Simon, Bruce Boston, Erik T. Johnson, Stephanie M. Wytovich, and also includes an introduction by the extraordinary Chuck Palahniuk.
Chiral Mad 3 Review
Chiral Mad 3 was an interesting book. I’d never read an anthology which put poems side by side with stories, and peppered the pages with illustrations too. Visually, it was a nice change, and I’d say it looks much better on paper than it did as an e-book. It’s fairly easy to get through, and didn’t give me the ‘tedious read’ experience that I’m generally afraid of when it comes to anthologies. The illustrations were great. Probably one of my favorite parts of the book, and some of the stories were just awesome.
I expected to be creeped out or greatly unsettled. That, unfortunately, rarely happened. So, I had to sit back from the book for a bit, and readjust how I looked at it. I took the overall tone from the first several stories and poems and adjusted my expectation. That worked, because the stories contained within are great – they just weren’t what I was expecting. My enjoyment of Chiral Mad 3 stepped up immensely after that, though I definitely still prefer paranormal and physical horror.
My favorite story from the anthology was Red Runner versus the Surgeon Issue 18 by Jessica May Lin. It screwed with my head a little bit, but it was so interesting and not something you see normally, so I truly enjoyed it. The runners-up were A Rift in Reflection by Hal Bodner, A Flash of Red by Erinn L. Kempler, The Bigger Bedroom by Josh Malerman, and The Dead Collection by Mercedes Yardley. I do have to give a disturbing imagery/dead child trigger warning on The Dead Collection, though. Josh Malerman’s piece is one that I’m going to end up going back and reading a few times. I’m still not sure I understood exactly what was going on there. It was definitely creepy, though.
As for poems, I have to admit in general they were not a hit with me. However, Put Me to Dream and Arbitration were both enjoyable.
Overall, I think almost everyone could find at least one story or poem in here that they liked. It’s worth checking out. However, fans of the darker horror probably are going to have a little bit of a harder time. Chiral Mad 3 excels in making you think and screwing with your head, which is fitting considering its a psychological horror collection, but doesn’t really hit the levels of deeply disturbing you might be expecting.
Chiral Mad 3 is available through Amazon and other retailers.