Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Dark Visions, Vol. 1--Memorably Good (and Short) Horror Stories

Photo: book's cover, from

If you like horror, and you like short stories, go get a copy of Dark Visions 1: A Collection of Modern Horror, an anthology of original short stories, edited by Anthony Rivera and Sharon Lawson.  It's available on Amazon, here.  A few notes about a couple of the stories to show you why it's so good:

--Mister Pockets, by NYT bestselling author and multiple Stoker Award-winner Jonathan Maberry.

Very effective short story about a "twelve-year old fat kid" who is barely beginning to understand his place in the world, and where others think his place is.  His place at present is in a town that's just recovering from The Trouble.  Nobody talks about it, but it happened, and it may be happening again.  What's The Trouble?  Well, suffice it to say that the kid goes one-on-one with a very pretty and very alluring vampire-like thing, and he would've been done for had he not earlier given a candy bar to a strange-smiling homeless man, nicknamed [see title].  (Great title, by the way.)

Maberry may be one of the more successful horror writers I've not heard of before.  The short author bio before the story lists an unbelievable amount of writing this man has been paid for since 1978.  If that sounds a little like envy on my part, it's because it is.

The Weight of Paradise by Jeff Hemenway

Creepy story about scientist-wannabes who find a cure for cancer.  By doing so, the cured become immortal.  But, as it turns out, forever comes for a price, and it's painful.  If you're familiar with the genre, you've seen this sort of morality tale before, but not as well-done as this.  It's a horror tale with the wistful sadness of some of Jack Ketchum's short stories.  That's a good thing.

Incidentally, it's always cool to see that a professional  author has been published in the same magazines as you.  In this case, Hemenway's been in Big Pulp, the same good folks who recently purchased the rights to my story, "The Zombie's Lament."  Another author, later in the collection, will soon be published in Space and Time, as I was.  Cool deal, man.  Good for the old ego.

The Troll by Jonathan Balog

A 20-page story that reads like 10, which is one of the things I look for in a slightly-longer short story.  (I like my short stories short--10 pages or fewer--and I tend to write very short ones, too.)  Anyway, the troll of the story looks more like a metrosexual pimp, but what he tells the 12-year old narrator to do is a bit more.  Though he does pimp the kid out, if I may be so bold.  The troll is quite a bit like Pennywise the Clown, except when the story's done, the reader may wonder who the real troll was--the troll, or the narrator?  A good study of adolescent evil.  Very well-written, and very quickly read.

Delicate Spaces by Brian Fatah Steele

Perhaps my favorite so far in this collection.  A group of paranormal researchers answer a dare for free rooming at a hotel that wants to drum up business, hoping they'll stay longer.  Very realistic dialogue and action make the reader feel like he's observing the middle of something, just being dropped right in there.  What they see before they're about to leave will catch the reader breathless.  Very professionally written and described; you'll feel this frightening incident could actually happen.

There are 13 stories in all, and there's a lot to like here.  So, suffice it to say, if you like your horror in small pieces, you'll like this book as much as I did.  Again, it's available here at Amazon.  The Kindle is only $3.99, and a new paperback starts at $11.94.  It's worth it.

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