Wednesday, June 11, 2014

For the Night is Dark edited by Ross Warren

(eBook; 2013: horror anthology)

Overall review:

Night has some notably good work in it (see the "Standout stories" below) and is a solid anthology.  I didn't like four of the stories (I'm not a fan of stories written entirely in the present tense, and I loathe "GOTCHA!" works*), but most of the twenty pieces included here hew closely to established (and effectively penned) Old School horror structures and themes.  Don't expect any groundbreaking storytelling here, just expect mostly solid writing.

[*A "GOTCHA!" story is one where its author(s) set up one scenario - often in a punny and I'm-so-clever manner - but later reveal "it's all a dream" or "it's all in one of the characters' heads," often at the end.  Another variation of a "GOTCHA!" story is the double-entendre approach where an author pretends to be writing about one thing, but - sans honest foreshadowing - Big Reveals that s/he's really talking about another (e.g., sex talk/action = talking about/making dinner).]

Standout stories:

1.)   "His Own Personal Golgotha" - G.N. Braun:  Sensory vivid, mood-effective dread piece about a man's hellish reckoning or redemption. 

2.)  "21 Brooklands: next to Old Western, opposite the burnt out Red Lion" - Carol Johnstone:  Poverty, variable forms of familial and sexual abuse and a terrifying blackout are highlighted in this grimy, effective tale.

3.)   "Til Death" - Joe Mynhardt:  A man (Derek) tries to protect himself and his daughter (Meghan) from a psychotropic and supernatural home invasion.  Interesting (in a good way), eerie piece.

4.)   "Father Figure" - Tracie McBride:  Excellent, memorable work about a man (Andy) whose marriage to the notably younger Mia harbors a secret that will likely destroy them and their children.  One of my favorite stories in this collection.

5.)   "Room to Thrive" - Stephen Bacon: A group of post-party friends go on a late night spookhouse expedition, hoping to score 'shrooms.  Of course, they get something far more horrible than they bargain for.  While the characters and the story are familiar, the worthwhile writing and the story's brevity keep it notably entertaining.

6.)   "Hungry is the Dark" - Benedict J. Jones:  Excellent, blunt story that mixes pulp crime action, gore and shadowy horror.  In Soho, a recently released ex-con (Harry Sands) tries to rescue his fourteen year-old granddaughter (Rhian) from a familiar, child-pimping enemy (Howard Kinski).  This is one of my favorite entries in this anthology

7.)   "Lost and Found" - Tonia Brown:  A hospital employee (Renee), while filing some old films in the basement, encounters someone who may or may not be an employee legend, a ghost named Gertrude.  This is an especially interesting, well-written work, with a welcome touch of quirkiness.

8.)   "How the Dark Bleeds" - Jasper Bark:  Another hospital story, this one about an Anglo-Saxon blood creature (a Heolfor), a  traumatized nurse (Stephanie) and her terrible future.  Interesting pagan history stuff makes this one stand out.

9.)  "Don't let the dark stop you shining" -  William Meikle:  A woman, also haunted by a song, tries to join her dead family.  The story is familiar, but the writing is tightly-plotted and worthwhile.

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