Taaqtumi: Edited By Neil Christopher, Kelly Ward, Grace Shaw and Kathleen Keenan
Reviewed By Steve Stred
Why has this release not received more press? I was a bit shocked when I stumbled upon this release on Netgalley. The horror community has been working hard to be more inclusive – from Ladies of Horror Month, to showcasing and highlighting works of minorities, PoC and LGBTQ+.
Yet, I’ve not seen this anthology highlighted or discussed, and that saddens me.
“Taaqtumi” is an Inuktitut word that means “in the dark.”
I can’t think of a more accurate description of the stories that appear in here. Made up of authors of Indigenous background, this runs a frosty gamut of terror. Most of the stories connected with me and the only one that didn’t work at all was still a fun story.
It opens with ‘Iqsinaqtutalik Piqtuq – The Haunted Blizzard’ by Aviaq Johnston. What a great, creepy story. A cold storm hits the small community, so school gets let out early. As the kids either wait at the high school for their siblings or decide to walk home on their own, one of the students spots something in the blowing snow. Is it an animal? A human? They don’t know, but whatever it is has followed them home. A great opener.
Next up is ‘The Door’ by Ann R. Loverock. How I’d love to see this in novel form. During a hunt, a mysterious door is spotted in the wilderness. It draws the person in, wanting to open it and see what is behind it. Loverock gives us bits and pieces of background here, but what a story.
‘Revenge’ by Thomas Angunti Johnston is a fun story about a lone man hunting seal. Along the way he unleashes the fantastic creature known as nanurluk, which quickly tracks him back to the village. Gruesome and spectacular. Loved it.
‘Utiqtuq’ by Gayle Kabloona did something that hasn’t happened to me in some time – a zombie type story I enjoyed. Aliisa is a young woman, trying to survive a ravaged world where the dead come back to life. The Canadian Government arrive, telling her a cure has been found and begging her to come with them. Not only did this give me the creeps with the tundra zombie action, but it walked a very thinly veiled line in the historical realm of white government officials insisting young Indigenous come with them for a better life.
The anthology finishes with a high. ‘Strays’ by Repo Kempt tells us the tale of two vets, stuck in a snowstorm in an isolated community. While they work on the various animals that come through, more and more of what the one vet is running from back home comes to light. Really enjoyed how this one ended.
Throughout the anthology, each story is separated by stunning pieces of art that really elevated this project.
Like I said before, I’m not sure why this isn’t being championed more – the stories are great, the artwork is outstanding and it really highlights a group of writers who are far too frequently overlooked.
I would have given this a full five stars if it wasn’t for one story that was a big-time miss for me, but otherwise, this anthology was outstanding and I hope it becomes a series of releases.
Taaqtumi: An Anthology Of Arctic Horror Stories
“Taaqtumi” is an Inuktitut word that means “in the dark”―and these spine-tingling horror stories by Northern writers show just how dangerous darkness can be.
A family clinging to survival out on the tundra after a vicious zombie virus.
A door that beckons, waiting to unleash the terror behind it.
A post-apocalyptic community in the far North where things aren’t quite what they seem.
With chilling tales from award-winning authors Richard Van Camp, Rachel and Sean Qitsualik-Tinsley, Aviaq Johnston, and others, this collection will thrill and entertain even the most seasoned horror fan.
Steve Stred is the author of a number of novels, novellas and collections. He has appeared in anthologies with some of Horror’s heaviest hitters.
He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada with his wife, son and their dog OJ.
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