Horror & Dark Fantasy



Editorial: December 2021

Welcome to Nightmare’s 111th issue—and if you’re in the northern hemisphere, welcome to winter. Winter, that long dark season of hardship and despair.

The poet Christina Rossetti perfectly captured the season when she wrote: “In the bleak midwinter, frosty wind made moan, / Earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone.” It is a season that strips life from the world around us and leaves our bodies enervated and fragile. Even in our modern era, we can’t help but feel exposed in these harsh months.

There’s a reason humanity turns to history and ritual in this time—we desperately need the reminder that we have faced the cold before, and that we must pass along those survival skills to the next generation. So this month’s issue is suffused with history, from Steve Toase’s archaeologically-inspired story “To Rectify in Silver” through to Ali Trotta’s shroud-filled poem “When the Wraith Smiles.” You’ll find thoughts about the way we’ve historically treated our dead (in both Trotta’s poem and Manish Melwani’s poignant new story, “The Plague Puller”) and the way we’ve talked about miscarriages (in Laur A. Freymiller’s unsettling flash piece, “The Mothers”). Whether these pieces are historical fiction or modern tales, they reflect upon history and leave the reader with a touch of winter’s chill.

I admit our nonfiction features are a bit more festive. In the H Word, Simon Strantzas discusses the role of ambiguity in horror, and Adam-Troy Castro recommends some new novels in his book review column. We also have author spotlight interviews with our authors, and for our ebook readers, an excerpt from Blake Johnson’s new novella, Prodigal: An American Fable.

In many cultures, December is a time not just for chills, but for celebrating kindness and gift-giving. For us at Nightmare, the best gift is getting to share our work with you, our fantastic readers. Well—that, and the hope that we’re giving you bad dreams!

Wishing you and yours a very festive and terrifying month of darkness.

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Wendy N. Wagner

Wendy N. Wagner is the author of the horror novel The Deer Kings and the gothic novella The Secret Skin. Previous work includes the SF thriller An Oath of Dogs and two novels for the Pathfinder Tales series, and her short stories, poetry, and essays have appeared in more than fifty venues. She also serves as the managing/senior editor of Lightspeed Magazine, and previously served as the guest editor of our Queers Destroy Horror! special issue. She lives in Oregon with her very understanding family, two large cats, and a Muppet disguised as a dog.