The title of Everything Here is a Nightmare, an anthology by Nelson W Pyles, is a paradox. It’s both true and untrue.
It’s true because every story included is truly a nightmare. Some are straight up horror with zombies and werewolves and chopped up people used as ornaments on a Christmas tree; while others are much more subtle in their execution: unseen but vocal tormentors, love lost, love found. Don’t you fret about the love lost, love found bits: they’re chock full of Pyles’ touch. Instead of slamming your face into the horror, it’s just a gentler nudge, like when a child is told by a well-meaning adult, “Just try a bite! Just try it, you’ll like it!”
The untrue component of the paradox is that nothing here is a nightmare to read. The stories pass by quickly without much taxation on your brain. And honestly, that’s the most delicate, cunning stroke of all.
See, Pyles’ stories are smooth. Almost too easy. You start to read them and they’re good. If you’re into horror, they’re fun. They seem like conventional tales. But here’s the thing. Here’s the bloody bit that crept up on me and made me think a bit harder, a bit longer on some of them:
They’re insidious little beasts.
Those conventional tales? You’re reading them, chugging along, and can see where they’re going, and—correction, you think you see where they’re going. More often than not there’s this little barb, this little hook in them that get you. Like a fish going about your business, thinking you know all there is to know, and suddenly, bam! You’re caught and dragged out of your element and, if you’re really unlucky, flayed open.
That’s Pyles’ style. That’s Pyles’ craft.
Are some of the stories stronger than others? Yes. Included in this book are stories that are (roughly) half collected in other anthologies and half previously unpublished. That doesn’t mean the ones never-before-been-published are the lesser of the two. Far from it! Some of my favorites hadn’t ever been published before.
The introduction mentions that Pyles’ wants to try different things: Westerns, crime, scripts, weird fiction, etc. And in this collection he does, all with that horror slant. Even with a novel under his belt, he’s trying new things, honing his work, continually making it better. A well-rounded author, one with his fingers on the keyboard and a willingness to put in the time and effort for the end product is a good thing, not a nightmare at all.
About Nelson W Pyles
Nelson W Pyles is an author currently living in Pittsburgh, PA. His first novel Demons, Dolls and Milkshakes was released to critical acclaim in 2013. He is currently working on two novels. He created the popular podcast The Wicked Library (www.thewickedlibrary.com) and remains the executive producer. He runs the Society 13 Podcast Network (www.society-13.com) with David Fairhead. For more information please visit www.nelsonwpyles.com, www.facebook.com/nelson.pyles and @nelsonwpyles on Twitter.