I recently acquired the massive, daunting Call of Cthulhu tabletop RPG campaign, Horror on the Orient Express. It’s definitely a nerd life goal to run that beast one of these days. In the meantime, I sat down to the anthology Chaosium produced to go along with it. I say it every time I review an anthology, but anthologies are a mixed bag. That said, this one is shockingly, uniformly good.
The stories cover a range of eras, and geographic locations. They focus on different styles of Mythos horror. Some a visceral horror shows, some dreamy nightmares. Some deal with nasty beasts hiding in the dark, while others focus on concepts beyond simple monsters.
It’s fascinating to see what aspects of the train and its history each author picks up on. One story takes place at its height, while another is in its waning days. From opulence to sad disrepair. The variety of voices, playing with the single theme, made for a nice spread of weird concepts. There was even a first person, present tense story, something that has sadly become seemingly obligatory in contemporary anthologies. But in a strange twist, it wasn’t awful, and even had a plot/concept based reason for being in that, normally unacceptable, yet all too common, tense. Don’t think I’ve ever seen it work before.
Check out Madness of the Orient Express. It’s definitely one of the best anthologies, in terms of consistent quality of content, that I’ve seen in a while. Editor James Lowder deserves some kudos for this one.