Birds are usually loved for their beauty and their song. They symbolize freedom, eternal life, the soul. But there’s a dark side to the avian. Birds of prey sometimes kill other birds (the shrike), destroy other birds’ eggs (blue jays), and even have been known to kill small animals (the kea sometimes eats live lambs). And who isn’t disgusted by birds that eat the dead—vultures awaiting their next meal as the life blood flows from the dying. Is it any wonder that with so many interpretations of the avian, that the contributors herein are eager to be transformed or influenced by them? Included in Black Feathers are those obsessed by birds of one type or another: A grieving widow takes comfort in her majestic winged neighbors, who enable her to cope with a predatory relative. An isolated society of women relies on a bird to tell their fortunes. A chatty parrot makes illegal deals with the dying. A troubled man lives in isolation with only one friend for company—a jackdaw.In each of these fictions, you will encounter the dark resonance between the human and avian. You will see in yourself the savagery of a predator, the shrewd stalking of a hunter, and will wade into this feathered nightmare, braving the horror of death for that which we all seek—the promise of flight.
Ellen Datlow is one of horror’s most acclaimed editors. Datlow was the fiction editor of OMNI for nearly twenty years and also edited the magazines Event Horizon and Sci Fiction. Her many bestselling anthologies include The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror series; Snow White, Blood Red; Lovecraft's Monsters; Naked City; and Darkness. She has won multiple Hugo, Locus, and Shirley Jackson awards and has received several lifetime achievement awards, including the Bram Stoker. Datlow lives in New York City.